Service-Oriented Architecture – Definition and Characteristics

The rise of service-oriented architecture (SOA) in recent years is placing it as one of the most important applications for communicating between different systems, or in this context, services.

To get an understanding of SOA architecture, we have to define what a “service” is. Like objects and components, services represent building blocks that allow users to organize information in ways that are familiar to them. These building blocks combine information about users and their behavior in a seamless fashion to present a relatively simple interface.

To simplify that further, a SOA service is the mechanism that satisfies a customer’s want or need through a negotiated contract. Therefore, SOA is a collection of different services.

SOA applications provide a platform for different services to communicate

Communication of services can involve something as simple as passing data or it can involve a coordination of an activity between two or more different SOA services.

One way we can illustrate this is by taking a look at a large online retailer like In order for a customer to have a seamless transaction, different programs must work together. Steps in the buying process involve various programs developed at different times, each using their own unique platforms and technologies.

One program that tracks inventory is different than the interface (i.e. the Internet) the customer uses to shop. There’s likely an entirely different program for their shopping cart and another for processing payment. SOA services tie these different programs together so a shopper on Overstock can know if their desired product is in stock and have it shipped to their residence with just a few clicks of a mouse.

To understand what service oriented architecture is, we can look to industry expert David Sprott, who says “SOA is not just an architecture of services seen from a technology perspective, but the policies, practices and frameworks by which we ensure the right services are provided and consumed.”

Have any questions or would like to explore how implementing SOA can benefit you and your company? Contact SOA consulting experts at Innovative Architects today and bookmark our SOA implementation knowledge center to learn more about this valuable technology.

Business process integration consultants at Innovative Architects can help you knock down these information “silos” and implement an interconnected IT system that will help your company operate more effectively.