SOA, cloud: it's the architecture that matters

For success in deploying cloud services, look no further than what we have already done with service oriented architecture.
Written by Joe McKendrick, Contributing Writer

Note:  This is an update on a timeless and timely message originally posted here in July 2009.

No SOA, no cloud. For success in deploying cloud services, look no further than SOA. That's the messsage we're hearing from Dave Linthicum, author of Cloud Computing and SOA Convergence in Your Enterprise: A Step-by-Step Guide and currently CTO of Blue Mountain Labs.

A while back, I had the chance to join Dave to deliver a Webcast on managing cloud-based services and transactions. Dave's message is that the lessons we’ve learned these past several years from SOA can be readily applied to emerging cloud formations.

Many have been debating whether cloud computing will replace or supplant service oriented architecture. Dave says this is not the case, as SOA and cloud are part of the same package. The key to success, he says, is to stay focused on enterprise architecture.

Cloud formations require the same enterprise architecture and governance — encompassing technology, people, and processes — that companies are now putting into place to manage SOA. “To make sure you’re  leveraging cloud computing properly in the context of your architecture you need to have a governance strategy,” Dave relates. “You need to manage those services within a context of a larger enterprise. This is probably one of the most important aspects of service oriented architecture and one of the most important aspects of cloud computing as well. Because if you do not have a strong governance approach and governance strategy, then you’re not going to be successful.”

Cloud computing is ultimately made possible by SOA, Dave says. “SOA and cloud computing are related one to the other,” he relates. “Service oriented architecture is all about sharing services and sharing information, processes, and agility integration and governance. And cloud computing is all about providing architectural options, such as software as a service, database on service, and platform on demand.”

In both cases, the name of the game is agility, he explains. “The value proposition of service oriented architecture versus traditional architectural approaches is the ability to take advantage of agility. Since we address everything as services, we’re able to configure and reconfigure those services, either in composite applications, such as mashups,  or binding them into processes, or abstracting them into applications.” The “loosely coupled” aspect of SOA is an important ingredient for cloud implementations as well. The best scenarios for moving services to the cloud is “typically when applications and processes and data are more loosely coupled and less dependent on each other,” he states. Cloud computing provides new architectural options in the way services are deployed, Dave relates. “So instead of just looking at complete on-premise solutions, where we were binding and placing systems and services just within our data centers, we have architectural options such as Amazon and 3tera.”
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