|By Ed Ort, April 2005|
Service-oriented architecture (SOA) is a hot topic in enterprise computing because many IT professionals see the potential of an SOA -- especially a web services-based SOA -- in dramatically speeding up the application development process. They also see it as a way to build applications and systems that are more adaptable, and in doing so, they see IT becoming more agile in responding to changing business needs. Not only is SOA a hot topic, but it's clearly the wave of the future. Gartner reports that "By 2008, SOA will be a prevailing software engineering practice, ending the 40-year domination of monolithic software architecture" and that "Through 2008, SOA and web services will be implemented together in more than 75 percent of new SOA or web services projects." But despite this strong trend, some in the IT community don't feel that the web services underpinning for an SOA is mature enough for their enterprise to consider migration to a service-oriented architecture. For others, the terms service-oriented architecture and web services draw a blank stare.
An earlier article, presented a brief overview of SOA and the role of web services in realizing it. This article supplements that earlier article. If you're not familiar with SOA and web services, this article aims to familiarize you with them. It defines some of the key terms and concepts related to SOA and web services. A critical mass of widely-adopted technologies is available now to implement and use a web services-based SOA, and more technologies, as well as tools, are on the way. Figure 1 identifies some of these technologies and tools. Each layer of the figure shows technologies or tools that leverage technologies in the surrounding layers. This article describes what these technologies and tools are.