I recently attended a seminar on service-oriented architecture (SOA) mainly to discover why, given it's already been around for a few years (an eternity in IT management time), people are still holding seminars on it.
My younger colleague remarked that oriented was an unusual word and suggested it was probably coined by a consultant. It turns out he was spot on. SOA was lobbed onto the acronym court in a 1996 research paper by a Gartner boffin, although the term didn't become widely used until around 2002.
SOA associates new terminology with concepts that have been around for some time such as CORBA, DCOM and DCE. SOA's new concept is the concept that it is new, while in reality it's just re-using ideas that were the Next Big Thing a decade ago. But the IT industry has never let history get in its way, so with a shiny new acronym SOA is now this decade's Next Big Thing.
Earlier this year, a joint research project by Computerworld and Hydrasight on local adoption rates of SOA revealed 44 percent of companies surveyed had already started or piloted SOA projects. A different measure of its success is the survey by Network Computing that found SOA was the most despised buzzword last year.
Not only is SOA a buzzword itself, descriptions of SOA are jam-packed with buzzwords. Orchestrate, granularity, composability, componentization, centre of excellence, proven international governance standards, control objectives and (my personal favourite) SOA reference architecture. Wow, two architectures in the one buzz phrase. The best buzz comes from OASIS (Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards), which defines SOA as "a paradigm for organizing and utilizing distributed capabilities that may be under the control of different ownership domains". Which, aside from the admirable use of the former buzz champion paradigm, doesn't actually say anything.
Although everyone tells me that SOA is a definition and not just a set of products, I might find it a wee more credible if the people telling me were not all software vendors pushing their set of SOA products.
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