Just as rival BEA Systems set up its SOA stall in San Francisco a few weeks ago, Oracle is pitching its SOA wares over the next few days at Oracle World.

Given the potential disruption to critical business processes and effect on the bottom-line, the vested SOA interests of the IT industry and its associates need to be treated with extreme caution.

For its part, Oracle is positioning SOA as a major theme at the OpenWorld conference and SOA based on Oracle's Fusion Middleware platform was the focus of a keynote presentation by Thomas Kurian, Oracle senior vice president of server technologies development.

"There's a new architecture that's emerged, which today in the industry is called services-oriented architecture," Kurian said.

Well, there isn’t a CIO on the planet who hasn’t heard a variation on that evangelical theme but analyst Melinda Ballou, programme director for Application Life-Cycle Management Software at IDC, lauded Oracle's SOA strategy.

"I think Oracle's in a really strong position given the ownership that they have of the application stack," Ballou said. But she questioned whether Oracle has gaps to fill related to application lifecycle management for services.

"The questions I have as an application lifecycle management analyst are around specific approaches in developing services for test and quality management, change management and governance," Ballou said.

CIOs looking at serious SOA investment must be experiencing an overwhelming sense of déjà vu. Over the years most senior IT managers and CIOs have seen (and usually paid for) vendor bandwagons to park on their lawns. SOA is one of their few longterm parking opportunities since Y2K and the triumvirate of vendors, consultancies and systems integrators love it to bits.

In reality, Kurian's presentation amounted to a lot of talk but was short on deliverables. As is often the way with IT architectures.