[b]S[/b]ervice. Refers to how we use a service interface as a contract to decouple or loosely-couple a service provider from their prospective service consumers. Providers publish services, prefereably and increasingly in registries or service repositories (where they can be better governed). Consumers are looking for capabilities / functionality along with a set of non-functional requirements or service level agreements (SLA) that they want to be able to declaratively specify.
Services allow a business to expose its main operations to a well defined set of partners, clients and world at large, without giving direct access to its underlying IT systems, butthrough the surrogate of a web service.
The structure of an SOA, introduces services at an architectural level (a layer dedicated to services in the architecture).In object-oriented programming we tried to separate interfaces from implementation. IN SOA, we have carried that programming practice up to the architectural level and now have a layer dedicated to enforce that programming best-practice at a design level.
[b]O[/b]riented. The orientation is not object-orientation or component-orientation, but rather, service-orientation. This orientation is a tendency towards using services above the other options; not to exclude those options. Thus, when we apply the service litmus tests to the portfolio of candidate services we will end up with a smaller set of services and a number of other capabilities that still need to be implemented using some technology: legacy, package or custom, even if it is not a web services implementation.
[b]A[/b]rchitecture. SOA is a style of architecture and relies on the sound principles of software architecture, including the fact that it is merely one style, to be combined with other styles to form hybrid solutions to handle complex projects and real-world situations. Booch talks about bringing the 'A' back into SOA. I would say that as we overcome the hype of the acronym, we turn our attention to each letter and take action on what it signifies; including the A part for Architecture.