Ignorance of SOA leads to cloud failure

When a VMware exec gets the importance of SOA wrong, you know a lot of folks are dangerously ignorant of the SOA-cloud connection

In these days of YouTube, I'm always extra careful about what I say when I speak at conference. I know that statements can be taken out of context, and saying something silly, stupid, or factually incorrect can haunt you for months. Evidently, at least some of the folks at EMC VMware are not worried about that.

Rod Johnson of VMware, in his keynote presentation (see the video below) and as reported by TheServerSide.com, states that SOA was a fad, whereas cloud computing is real: "If you look at the industry over the past few years, the way in which cloud computing is spoken of today is the way in which SOA was spoken of four or five years ago. I think with respect to SOA, it really was a fad."

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In Johnson's defense, I think that declaration was not as uneducated as it sounds, so I urge you to listen to the entire presentation. But there was enough wrong with it that Johnson and anyone who tooks his comments at face value deserve additional education.

To those who use SOA to get to the cloud, Johnson's statement is akin to saying that sound engineering principles are a fad. Or that the new generation of cars is here to stay, er, until next year's models come out. You won't get to the new generation of cars without solid engineering principles, and those engineering principles are durable across many generations of cars.

The differences and value of both SOA and cloud computing concepts are lost on most in the emerging world of cloud computing -- Johnson included, it appears. Allow me to clear things up.

SOA and cloud computing are two very difference concepts. SOA is something you do. It's an architectural pattern and approach where you address core IT resources as sets of services, then configure and reconfigure those services as solutions. SOA provides a great deal of value to the world of cloud computing, considering that you're dealing with clouds through APIs or services, so the use of SOA as a way to both build and leverage cloud computing is a natural fit.

By contrast, cloud computing is a computing model or a way of leveraging computing resources where those resources can be provisioned and released as required from a set of resources pooled locally in a private cloud or remotely in a public cloud. Both concepts are overly simplified here, but I wrote a book on this if you desire more detail.

I'm not sure why SOA is so misunderstood. I suspect that new arrivals to cloud computing are not bothering to understand what SOA is and end up dismissing it as old technology. It's not technology, and it never was. Those who understand the links between SOA and the cloud will succeed by making cloud computing work well for the business.

This article, "The ignorance about SOA endangers successful cloud adoption," 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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