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Over the past several years, with the advent of the open grid services architecture (OGSA) and the Web services resource framework (WSRF), service-oriented architectures (SOA) and Web service technologies have been embraced in the field of scientific and grid computing. These new principles promise to help make scientific infrastructures simpler to use, more cost effective to implement, and easier to maintain. However, understanding how to leverage these developments to actually design and build a system remains more of an art than a science. In this paper, we present some positions learned through experience that provide guidance in leveraging SOA technologies to build scientific infrastructures. In addition, we present the technical challenges that need to be addressed in building an SOA, and as a case study, we present the SOA that we have designed for the national biomedical computation resource (NBCR) community. We discuss how we have addressed these technical challenges, and present the overall architecture, the individual software toolkits developed, the client interfaces, and the usage scenarios. We hope that our experiences prove to be useful in building similar infrastructures for other scientific applications.