Service orientation addresses the requirement for modular IT architectures and flexible business processes. As such it marks a break with previous concepts which were based on proprietary interfaces, monolithic application architectures and rigid business processes. The core of the service idea is based upon components which can be combined as required with loosely connected applications or business processes with clearly defined interfaces. Regulatory requirements such as Basel II and Sarbanses Oxley, risk management or performance management all demand new processes, and increasing rationalisation pressure and more stringent competitive conditions demand more flexible, automated processes and cost efficiency.
The core criterion here is interoperability. While propriety data formats, protocols and incompatible process environments used to make it difficult to work with different IT systems, it is now possible to communicate across all platforms such as mainframe, Unix/Linux and Windows thanks to the widely available XML and Web Service Standards. Today, the Microsoft platform supports all conventional open standards and yet still provides considerable business and organisational advantages as a homogeneous architecture. So the platform can support companies through the transition to a service-oriented process world - from corporate strategy definition and modelling right up to implementing end-to-end business processes.