Volume 10 of the Microsoft Architect Journal has been released to the web. This issue deals with the concept of Composite Applications which are basically the payoff that a service oriented architecture provides. Composition deals with creating an end capability or application by consuming various services and data to solve a particular problem. Increasingly this concept is being pushed closer and closer to the end user.
Some of the goals of composite applications can be realized today. An example is Microsoft Office SharePoint 2007. In SharePoint, functionality is exposed as web parts which you snap in to SharePoint portals and sites. On one of the projects I am working on, required functionality is being created as a custom web part. The web part is very flexible and can be used in many different ways, more ways than the design team is able to document. It is being provided as web part so that end users and their various workgroups can create their own composite applications by combining out of box functionality in SharePoint like workflow, content management, etc. with the custom web part. The key benefit of composition is that architects and design teams do not need to anticipate all user needs. Instead, architects and design teams focus on providing infrastructure targeted toward achieving strategic goals while creating it with maximum flexibility so that it can be composed into applications by groups closer to the actual users.