Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA)

Service-oriented architecture, or SOA, is an aspect of information technology and systems design. Put in simplest terms, SOA enables software programs on one computer to communicate with programs on other computers. Bringing SOA into the IT planning and acquisition process is particularly important to MITRE's sponsors in the federal government because of the growing need to expand IT functionality across organizational boundaries.

You'll usually find SOA on large-scale IT projects—such as government systems or commercial enterprises—where the benefits outweigh the initial development cost. When SOA is the right choice, engineers and IT developers spend less time creating custom-made technology and more time building foundational systems that agencies can reuse, upgrade, and integrate with still other systems. It can save time and money while speeding application development.

However, SOA and its underlying implementation standards present new IT planning management challenges. We are well versed in the systems aspects of SOA and use a systems engineering approach to look at the big picture of what government organizations must accomplish through information processing—whether for systems in the field or back-office operations.

Ultimately, MITRE's role is to guide sponsors towards gaining the most value from their SOA investments. One way we've done this is by hosting several conferences on e-government, with a focus on applying SOA to federal systems. Because many agencies face similar challenges when it comes to adopting SOA, these events have promoted knowledge sharing and collaboration among a broad group of IT decision makers.

In addition to advising specific government programs, we've made our guidance available in a downloadable series of white papers. Papers may be downloaded in .zip format.