'Cloud apps' work better with SOA

Applications built specifically for cloud computing can be more easily integrated into service-oriented architecture, says Software AG executive.
Written by Victoria Ho, Contributor

MIAMI--Companies keen to deploy cloud computing should select applications built specifically for the cloud, says senior executive from Software AG, who adds that "cloud" services can be more easily integrated into a service oriented architecture (SOA).

Peter Kurpick, chief product officer at the German software vendor, told ZDNet Asia in an interview that "cloud" applications such as those offered by Salesforce.com, are made available to the SOA by exposing services through APIs (application programming interfaces). This is no different from traditional, large software deployments from vendors such as Oracle and SAP, Kurpick said.

"In fact, services coming from the cloud are more easily integrated into the SOA layer [because] they were designed from Day 1 to be delivered as services," he said.

SOA is a methodology that uses open standards such as Web services, to enable companies to build IT infrastructures "as a collection of services", so they can be more flexible and responsive to changing business needs. In cloud computing, applications and services including data storage, are hosted and delivered via the Web.

Kurpick said users interested in jumping on the cloud should pick applications that were "made for the cloud". Traditional applications that are merely "hosted" and not built to be "truly on the cloud", should not be used, he said.

Deploying a hosted application simply involves moving its resident location out of the company's premises, he explained, noting that the user is still restricted to the same challenges regarding scalability.

"If you want to add users suddenly to your hosted app, you would have to do this the same way as if the application was in your backend--you have to get another server," Kurpick said."It is not instant."

"True cloud applications", in comparison, provide instant and seamless elasticity, allowing companies to be more adaptable to unexpected spikes in users' needs, he said. Companies also do not need to manage the architecture to support these applications, he added.

Nonetheless, Kurpick does not see cloud computing as a significant source of disruption for Software AG's business, which focuses strongly on SOA. He said current offerings on the cloud remain "niche" and are "singular" applications such as Salesforce.com's CRM (customer relationship management) product, so they will not change the SOA industry as yet.

Cloud of revenues
While some companies look to the "cloud" for scalable applications, the same platform can pave the way for others to enter the market--albeit a challenging one--as providers of cloud-based applications.

Miko Matsumura, Software AG's vice president and deputy CTO, said companies may be able to gain new revenue from the "cloud", in addition to saving cost.

SOA, which Matsumura described as a way for companies to construct a "patchwork" of a heterogeneous architecture, is also a way for providers to expose their services into the cloud.

The provider can then identify services, within its "patchwork" offering, that need scalability and offer these on the cloud so they are delivered more robustly for end-users, he said.

However, he noted that companies should not hop on the cloud bandwagon simply because it is now on the upward curve of its hype cycle.

Companies that take a pragmatic approach to what the cloud can offer will benefit from its uses, said Matsumura.

Victoria Ho of ZDNet Asia reported from Software AG's Innovation World 2008 in Miami, Florida.

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