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Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA) refers to an IT architectural style that supports Service Orientation and flexibly enables re-use.

SOA seeks to align IT Services with Business Processes to implement autonomous Services which are composable for re-use in other Business contexts. SOA addresses the characteristics of loose-coupling, modularity and separation of concerns and typically uses open standards for interactions between a Service Consumer and a Service Provider. SOA interactions use a common semantic understanding and are governed by a service agreement.

SOA is linked to Enterprise Application Integration (EAI) and can be thought of as "EAI on steroids" or "EAI with Open Standards" and encompasses all the complexity of integrating consumers, providers and data models on disparate systems and technologies as though they were designed with the required interaction in mind from the outset.

SOA is a large and complex undertaking whose payback is not immediate but usually quite a way down the track by providing the Business with the flexibility, agility and stability it requires to manage and change according to its diverse and complex business requirments.