Why is SOA such a hot buzzword these days and what’s the buzz about? Several of the articles in this issue reference various definitions for SOA and concur that the term is getting a lot of attention yet not very well understood by most customers. How can a term that is so commonly misunderstood get so much attention? The most common reason is that enterprises are interested in the promised benefits that are associated with SOA (e.g., simplified enterprise integrations, agile business process adaptation, long term cost savings, etc). However, unlike many other technical buzzwords, SOA is not a technology that can simply be purchased and deployed.
In fact, SOA is not really a technology at all. SOA is an architectural design paradigm which makes use of other technologies that enable the goals of a SOA. In practice, it turns out to be much more complicated than it sounds due to a variety of issues that are encountered at every stage of the software development lifecycle. The promised benefits of SOA are valid, but achieving success has been difficult for many organizations. So it is no surprise that all of the most popular vendors in the enterprise software arena are trying to commercialize the concept of SOA.
The idea of commercializing SOA is for vendors to offer an integrated product suite that helps an enterprise achieve the goals of a SOA “out of the box”. However, the notion of commercializing an architectural design paradigm raises some questions. Why are many of these vendors publishing competing SOA methodologies? Are these commercialized SOA suites really adding any value or just rebranding existing products and using the SOA moniker to capitalize on a trend? Does this result in any form of vendor lock-in and invalidate some of the benefits of SOA?