"Cloud computing is already beginning to unleash the potential of SOA and much more is on the way."
Cloud is the target platform SOA has been lacking until now
That's the view of Gray Hall, a veteran of the IT hosting industry, in a recent post on the growing role of SOA in cloud formations. Gray states that SOA is an architectural pattern and cloud is a target platform for that pattern. The significance of cloud, he adds, is that SOA has languished since its inception, and the reason is because it has lacked a "target platform." As he puts it:
"[It] is correct to call SOA an architectural pattern. [It] is correct to call cloud computing a 'target platform.' But the real news in this story is that a target platform is exactly what SOA has been lacking all these years. All applications must run somewhere; applications need infrastructure. SOA is an application architecture; cloud computing is an infrastructure architecture. It's that simple. This marriage is long overdue."
Gray says that cloud processing (dynamic allocation of CPU resources) and cloud storage (Web services API access to storage resources) infrastructure "is the most natural target platform for SOA apps because cloud infrastructure is designed to scale in the way implied by the SOA approach to application architecture."
Cloud infrastructure services such as Amazon Web Services and Rackspace have made SOA real to many companies, he says. "Until recently, where could a SOA app find a venue to stretch its legs?"
Gray has hit upon something here. SOA's value is not seen within services built for a single silo, or even those shared between two or more silos. SOA begins to pay off as the result of a network effect -- services built and consumed across a growing Web of providers and consumers. Cloud-based services are broadening organizations' vistas as to when and where they can access services.
(Thanks to reader csarkar for the pointer to Gray's post.)