After almost 14 months of intense work, over 6000 messages posted to hundreds of threads, 6 face to face meetings and 34 conference calls by over 225 members and observers from approximately 89 different companies, the first true public standard to describe SOA now exists. The OASIS SOA RM TC closed a final ballot with a successful majority vote to unanimously approve the current draft as an official OASIS Reference Model for SOA Committee Specification.
The Reference Model is not itself Architecture, it is more like a template to guide archtiects. Unlike most definitions of SOA which rely on specific examples, the SOA RM is also entirely abstract and not tied to any one technology family or specifications. Those architecting SOA or BPM as the governance layer over top of SOA will probably find it the most useful as it points out the entities and patterns required to allows SOA to work and support the governance layer.
Some general notes on the RM:
Web Services: Although it is not tied directly to any standards, it is highly optimized for use with WS-*, the web services set of standards, protocols and technologies.
Business Process Management: In order to facilitate BPM as a layer over SOA, there are certain minimal things yoour SOA should have. The RM describes these in an abstract manner - architects can decide on the best way to implement the patterns.
Architectural Patterns: The RM for SOA is essentailly a large set of reusable patterns. By itself, the RM illustrates what makes SOA different from other architectural paradigms and provides the patterns to help illustrate the concepts.
Architecture: Although the RM is itself not architecture, there is a sub TC now working on building a Reference Architecture.
This standard should help clear up some of the perceived FUD in the Tech sector regarding SOA.