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What Is Service-Orientation?

Article Details
  • Written By: M. McGee
  • Edited By: Lauren Fritsky
  • Last Modified Date: 25 October 2017
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2017
    Conjecture Corporation
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Service-orientation is a software construction methodology that focuses on software-as-a-service rather than traditional distribution methods. The overall goal of a service-based software model from the programing standpoint is making money thorough smaller subscription plans and a wider customer base. Service-orientation, from a purchaser view, allows a company to purchase only the portion of a software package it needs and to use it only when it needs it. This results in a situation that is monetarily advantageous for both parties.

When software is created, it is built based on a set of design principles. These principles govern the way the software will interact with the user and system it runs on. For a very long time, software was built using one of two basic formats, mass-market and proprietary development.

These two design principles became the cornerstone of the software industry. Mass-market packages were designed for sale to the general public via conventional channels such as computer or department stores. Proprietary packages were specifically designed for a single client or client group. In both cases, the software was sold as a package with basic support. Once a new version of the software came out, the purchasers of earlier versions were often required to upgrade at their own cost.

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The two basic design methodologies remained unchanged for many years, but in the later part of the 1990s, that changed. The spread of the Internet allowed a new design and distribution method, downloadable software packages. Downloading software was common at the time, but the programs were basic and generally quite small. The real change happened when large, high-profile programs became available as a download only.

It was these three different ideas that combined into the modern service-orientation methodology. These software systems contain large and complex software packages, delivered via the Internet, that are available to a wide audience, but can be customized to a single purpose. It is the hybrid model that gives these software systems their unique edge.

In most cases, any software using a service-orientation has two common identifiers. The program is modular with multiple self-contained parts. The parts generally have a single dependency, a core program, but the rest of the parts are not interconnected. This allows different groups to share a core, but use radically different functions on top of it. This also keeps time spent in each component easier to track, which leads into the second part.

Software with a service-orientation is only used when it needs to be. If a company doesn’t need access to a certain group of functions on the system, they don’t pay for access to those functions. As the needs of the business change over time, it may require changes in the software. Adding and subtracting functions is generally very quick and rarely requires additional upgrades by the business.

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