This paper examines the application of service oriented architecture (SOA) in finite element analysis. SOA is a technology for designing and developing interoperable services. These services can reside on the same computer or, more commonly, on distributed computers. The paper demonstrates how SOA can be used within the context of scientific computing. The implementation and application of SOA to equation solvers and finite element analysis is described. There are advantages in terms of software engineering, as it facilitates the separation of areas of complexity. SOA can be used on standalone computers, intranets and on the internet. The data transfer costs are examined. It is shown that SOA principles can be used to design applets that make use of finite element analysis and a simple example of this is described.