In a new research note, Ovum's Saurabh Sharma makes the case for making sure there is service orientation behind the cloud.
As he explains it: "It is true that cloud computing can be pursued without SOA, but it is also true that these attempts often fail to deliver the real business value of cloud computing." Service oriented architecture is a way of designing, sharable technology-based services, regardless of language, platform or underlying hardware, in a well-governed, orchestrated manner that is meaningful to the business.
Sharma spells out two good reasons for laying an SOA foundation underneath cloud services:
SOA addresses complex integration issues created by cloud computing: Let's face it, right now, cloud is only creating more information and application silos, not less. SOA, on the other hand, is intended to reduce or better integrate silos, and is sorely needed "meet complex integration requirements, including on-premise-to-cloud integrations and B2B integrations that involve multi-enterprise process automations," says Sharma. "SOA helps in integration of disparate applications and services, and provides the necessary security and governance paradigm for the efficient, repeatable, and secure usage of cloud services."
SOA governance provides the foundation for cloud governance: Governance is the only way to ensure the business gets what it needs from IT. With so many people in the business signing on to their own cloud services, things are getting duplicated and a bit chaotic. SOA governance will help contain the mess, providing a "policy framework for the optimal usage of cloud services, and ensure proper security in interactions between on-premise and cloud-based IT resources, including disparate applications, platforms, and infrastructure."
Sharma hits upon two key elements sorely lacking in today's cloud world, integration and governance. Companies, consultants and vendors have been working on these two issues for almost a decade now, and SOA has matured to the point where it provides a "shovel-ready" implementation blueprint for cloud computing projects.
Whether cloud services are being called from outside the company, or from systems within, they need to be well orchestrated and capable of being adapted and assembled against whatever business process flows are required. There's no need to fight the same battles all over again. Many of the questions and uncertainties around integration and governance have already been hammered out within the SOA community.