How to keep the rush to cloud from clouding enterprise judgement

Enterprises are becoming increasingly entangled in cloud services, and there has never been a greater need for architecture to clear things up.

"Even if cloud providers want us to believe otherwise, not every aspect of IT can be outsourced to cloud solutions!"

Building Metropolitan Museum of Art-NY photo by Joe McKendrick
Photo: Joe McKendrick

That's the word from a team of IT thought leaders, who analyzed the deficiencies of today's cloud-based services and call for service-oriented architecture to make it all work for enterprises. (Jürgen Kress, Berthold Maier, Hajo Normann, Danilo Schmiedel, Guido Schmutz, Bernd Trops, Clemens Utschig-Utschig, Torsten Winterberg.)

Writing in Service Technology, Kress and his co-authors caution that in the rush to cloud, "security, architecture, availability, and standards are often not evaluated." There are issues with vendor lock-in as well, reducing choices and options.

Along with all this, integration between on-premises and cloud-based systems is still an untested area. "Without integration spanning between clouds and on-premise systems, processes can only be executed in isolation, leading to cloud-specific silos of isolated solutions. Important information for users is not available across processes and systems," say Kress and his co-authors.

In many ways, cloud represents a step backwards from a decade of work to bring applications and systems together within a common, standardized framework. The authors point out that architecture -- service-oriented architecture -- is taking on an even greater urgency as enterprises latch onto "legacy clouds."

While not mentioned specifically in the article, many cloud services are now criss-crossing enterprises in spaghetti-like fashion, used and paid for by lines of business outside of IT. There is no doubt plenty of money being spent on services that are either duplicated or going virtually unused.

SOA governance can act as a precursor to cloud governance, Kress and his co-authors point out. "The formalization of services and contracts in the SOA architecture serves as a template for formalizing cloud services. Structures and workflows between the business users and the IT department that were established as part of the SOA implementation serve as the basis. For the management of the processes, the attention is on system-wide solutions."

SOA forms the foundation of enterprise cloud. "As service contracts are formalized, the foundation is laid for SOA and cloud governance," Kress as his co-authors state. SOA enables the development and deployment of well-governed, standardized services across domains and between enterprises -- the essence of cloud.