Friday, 17 June 2011

The Service Oriented Cloud

Cloud Computing is intrinsically service-based. But this is not just in the highly generalized sense of the term ‘service’, but also in the more specific Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) use of the term, where capabilities are provided via published service interfaces. When Amazon CTO Werner Vogels describes the Cloud as "a collection of services", in AWS terms the capabilities provided are SOA-style software services, complete with published Web Service interfaces.

As well as the PaaS and IaaS capabilities provided by AWS or Microsoft's Azure for example, there are also SaaS capabilities provided by the likes of that can be consumed as software services.

Hence the concept of the Service Oriented Cloud (SOC)  illustrated below.

The Service Oriented Cloud

Add in the software services provided by business partners, the government, and others, and it is possible to rapidy assemble agile solutions to support new business requirements from a collection of services from multiple federated providers.

Though many of those business partner and government services might not be deployed using Cloud Computing today, it is important that their providers rapidly consider this option. As more and more businesses become service-based (that is, as a business, not just from an IT, software perspective), then Cloud Computing becomes increasingly relevant to the business, not just IT.

The service-based business needs to be elastic, able to scale capabilities such as manufacturing in line with demand. The Service-based business therefore outsources non-core capabilities to specialist business service providers. It participates in global supply chains leveraging the business services provided by its business partners. It constantly seeks additional or alternative sources of capability to improve quality, reduce cost, or to support new requirements.

To operate in near real-time, and reduce operational expenditure, the service-based business must be highly automated. Hence the IT solutions that enable the service-based business are assembled from the software services offered by multiple providers. In turn, the service-based business must also offer software services to its own partners and customers.

Consequently, the service providers need to ensure that their services are similarly elastic, and hence deployed using Cloud Computing.

Service-Based Thinking

The inherent nature of SOA in cloud architecture means service-based thinking permeates across the architecture views.
  • Service-based Business. Business products, process and capabilities as a collection of Business Services. Enabling transformation to the virtual business and its processes, assembled from a collection of business services from multiple federated providers.
  • Service-based Applications. Applications as a collection of Software Services. Where the business is supported by application solutions orchestrating a collection of software services from multiple federated providers.
  • Service-based Infrastructure. Infrastructure capabilities as a collection of Infrastructure Services. Where applications are deployed by orchestrating a collection of platform and infrastructure services from multiple federated providers.

It might be easy to conclude that SOA was yesterday’s issue. In fact according to some pundits SOA is dead and business transformation, application and IT modernization, and Cloud Computing are more fashionable terms today. But SOA hasn’t gone away! Achieving business improvement, modernized applications and leveraging cloud computing requires a solid foundation based on SOA. Most larger organizations have already adopted SOA to some extent, but few have achieved the critical mass that delivers on the original SOA vision. Moreover, organizations need to understand that all roads still lead to SOA. This is the key architectural style that is intrinsic to all strategic initiatives that will deliver radical improvements in cost and agility.

You can read more on these concepts and the importance of SOA in a research note I have authored.

Read In the Service Oriented Cloud, All Roads Lead to SOA

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