A service-oriented architecture is essentially a collection of services. These services communicate with each other. The communication can involve either simple data passing or it could involve two or more services coordinating some activity. Some means of connecting services to each other is needed.

Service-oriented architectures are not a new thing. The first service-oriented architecture for many people in the past was with the use DCOM or Object Request Brokers (ORBs) based on the CORBA specification. For more on DCOM and CORBA, see Prior service-oriented architectures (new window).


If a service-oriented architecture is to be effective, we need a clear understanding of the term service. A service is a function that is well-defined, self-contained, and does not depend on the context or state of other services. See Service (new window).


The technology of Web services (new window) is the most likely connection technology of service-oriented architectures. Web services essentially use XML (new window) to create a robust connection.

The following figure illustrates a basic service-oriented architecture. It shows a service consumer at the right sending a service request message to a service provider at the left. The service provider returns a response message to the service consumer. The request and subsequent response connections are defined in some way that is understandable to both the service consumer and service provider. How those connections are defined is explained in Web Services explained (new window). A service provider can also be a service consumer.

Service-oriented architecture

Source: http://www.service-architecture.com/web-services/articles/service-oriented_architecture_soa_definition.html