Service-Oriented Computing

soa-dummiesLet’s face it: executives and IT departments don’t always go together like peanut butter and jelly.  Typically what the executives want and when they want it by isn’t something IT can always accommodate easily.  Then, a few years ago, a new way of doing things emerged.  Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) created a way in which IT and business can work together in harmony.

Major computer companies like IBM and Microsoft, as well as big government agencies like the Department of Defense have adopted SOA because of its ability to focus on growing a business and less on developing the technology to support that business.  The fundamental reason SOA works so well is because it builds off already created systems and codes.  There is no reason to create a new system from scratch any longer when the skeleton for a new system has already been created.

To go back to food references, think of it as leftover turkey from Thanksgiving.  You had it once, but it’s still good for other things. Like turkey sandwiches, southwestern soup, salad, turkey pot pie, etc.  Still confused?  Hao He offers a better explanation:

Let’s look at an example of SOA which is likely to be found in your living room. Take a CD for instance. If you want to play it, you put your CD into a CD player and the player plays it for you. The CD player offers a CD playing service. Which is nice because you can replace one CD player with another. You can play the same CD on a portable player or on your expensive stereo. They both offer the same CD playing service, but the quality of service is different.

The idea of SOA departs significantly from that of object oriented programming, which strongly suggests that you should bind data and its processing together. So, in object oriented programming style, every CD would come with its own player and they are not supposed to be separated. This sounds odd, but it’s the way we have built many software systems.


Service Oriented Architecture is one of several elements of Service Oriented Computing (SOC).  SOC is essentially an umbrella that “encompasses many things, including its own design paradigm and design principles, design pattern catalogs, pattern languages, a distinct architectural model, and related concepts, technologies, and frameworks”  (Thomas Erl).

The new Service Oriented Computing graduate certificate program at The Graduate School of the College of Charleston offers software engineers 12 credit hours exploring how business and IT concerns can be aligned.  Offered jointly with The Citadel Graduate College, and offered exclusively at the Lowcountry Graduate Center, the SOC certificate program is accepting applications for enrollment as early as August.

The certificate consists of four courses:

  • Distributed Computer Systems Architecture
  • Semantic Web, Principles and Practice
  • Information Technology Policy, Strategy and Governance
  • Service-Oriented Computing

To learn more about this program, feel free to contact our Program Director, Dr. Paul Buhler.  Or to apply, visit us online.

One thought on “Service-Oriented Computing

  1. Thanks for the explanation of SOA and SOC. Please take a look at to see how students and higher ed faculty and staff might be able to benefit NOW using this paradigm.

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