Perfect fit: The cloud and SOA -- but don't call it that

While a service-oriented architectural approach could save you millions, the term's baggage almost guarantees a no

The phone rings. "We're looking for a path to cloud computing for our enterprise that will reduce risks and cost, but also raise our ability to be flexible and agile," the voice on the phone pleads.

"How about using SOA as an architectural pattern to drive the movement to cloud computing?" I respond.

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"Isn't SOA outdated?" the person immediately asks. "I thought somebody declared it dead."

There's a long pause. Then I respond: "OK, how about the ability to break up your existing enterprise assets as sets of logical services that can be formed and/or reformed into business solutions? That will provide us with a foundation to evaluate each service as something that may benefit from new cloud-based platforms and determine the best path for migration. This approach will also provide better access to your core information and critical business services, no matter where they reside."

"Wow, that sounds like exactly what we should be doing."

I make a note to myself: Remove "SOA" from any statement of work, but make sure we use a service-oriented architecture.

The fact of the matter is that the best and most effective way to move to the cloud for an enterprise whose technology platforms reflect decades of enterprise IT neglect is to use SOA as an approach and process. Just don't call it "SOA."

The problem is that SOA is a daunting and complex topic. There are only about 5,000 people on this planet (as best I can figure) who understand SOA at a functional level. That compares to about 500,000 to 1 million people (again, as best I can figure) who are charged with migrating core enterprise systems to cloud computing.

The benefits of usng service-oriented patterns are well known -- but not well understood. The ability to deal with systems as sets of services better prepares you for migration to both public and private cloud computing platforms. Indeed, it saves you millions of dollars in terms of avoiding costly mistakes that occur when you jump feet first into cloud computing technology without understanding the true requirements, and the correct path to change, for efficiency and agility.

In other words, it requires SOA. Just don't call it that.

This article, "Perfect fit: The cloud and SOA -- but don't call it that," originally appeared at InfoWorld.com. Read more of David Linthicum's Cloud Computing blog and track the latest developments in cloud computing at InfoWorld.com. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.

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