Can SOA liberate the cloud?

Service oriented architecture was designed to free applications from vendor lock-in and underlying technology. That vision needs to apply to cloud as well.

Tom Nolle, president of CIMI Corporation, says it's high time for a new vision in the evolution of cloud computing. That is, to bring in the experience and sensibilities of service oriented architecture, essentially building a cloud architecture on what he calls "Distributed SOA."

What does Nolle mean by Distributed SOA? It builds on a concept first detailed by Eric Newcomer back in the heydey of SOA, warning that too many centralized approaches to SOA were being pushed by vendors, who had vested interests in keeping things centralized and mostly proprietary. This goes against the very grain and philosophy of SOA, which is to enable the building and deployment of services entirely independent of vendors and underlying technologies.

Cloud's value proposition also is to establish an inventory of business services that are not bound to a technology or vendor. Services should be sharable and swappable between processes and systems, available on demand as business users need them. That's the SOA vision, and it's time that vision is exported to the cloud, Nolle explains in a recent TechTarget article:

"With distributed-SOA clouds, enterprises could host components of applications in the cloud, use the cloud to add instances of software components to improve performance in periods of critical load, and even fail over to the cloud if internal IT elements fail. Distributed-SOA clouds could also host service features, creating a modern vision of intelligent networking that enables network and cloud operators to be players in this era of smartphones and tablets."

Also essential to this emerging architecture is software-defined networking, which frees networks from underlying hardware, but needs to espand beyind the data center to enable integration between any and all application programming interfaces. Also sorely needed is federation, another vital piece of many SOA efforts that involve multiple systems across enterprises.