The buzz around SOA blog-town is about a free e-book Microsoft is offering called "SOA in the Real World." You can download a zipped PDF or XPS version from its site.
The book is 196 pages and six chapters long and includes several brief -- very brief -- SOA case studies, as well as fun facts about topics like the Winchester Mansion, which, frankly, completely distracted me from the task at hand. After about 20 minutes of reading up on the Mansion, I returned to the e-book.
It's a good read -- very clearly written, without marketing hype or 25-cent words that look impressive but mean little.
Another thing that's smart about this book: It draws a line in the sand and says, "Here's the definition of SOA." And that definition is simply: "A loosely-coupled architecture designed to meet the business needs of the organization."
It also takes a fairly dim view of confusing architecture with implementation, and spends a good deal of text explaining why that's just not right.
Still, it's important to note that while the e-book goes to great pains to argue SOA is not a technology or the domain of any one vendor, this is published and written by Microsoft. So, the case studies focus on how companies used Microsoft products in the SOA solutions.
I plan to read through it more thoroughly tonight.
If you'd like to take a look at the table of contents without actually downloading the book, the Real World Software Architecture site published it.
Should you download it, you'll eventually noticed that there are a few unreadable tables in chapter 2. You can download readable versions of the tables at Loosely Coupled Thinking. Blogger John Evdemon worked on chapter three of the e-book, according to the acknowledgment section. He's an Architect with Microsoft's Architecture Strategy Team.