SOA vendors see cloud computing writing on datacenter walls

It's time for SOA vendors to figure out what cloud computing will bring and take away from them

Joe McKendrick provides some great analysis around the fact that many SOA vendors are "being pushed into cloud, kicking and screaming."

... the Wall Street Journal's Ben Worthen and Justin Scheck have a different take on all this happy cloud talk. The way they see it, the recent economic slump and tighter IT budgets have pushed many vendors into the cloud world, kicking and screaming. Oracle, HP, IBM, Microsoft, and SAP all run the risk of seeing business move into a lower-margin space, with a longer timeframe to see revenues...

I'm seeing this as well. As I'm speaking with SOA vendors these days, it's all cloud computing, all the time. The reason is easy to understand: They want to be relevant and, thus, expand sales. However, the movement to the cloud means they are lowering their margins and also moving to a new model they don't really understand and are ill prepared to sell within.

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Core to this is a built-in conflict of interest. I mean, if you're looking to push people out into the clouds, you're by default asking them not to purchase hardware and software. Thus, you're moving from a high-margin business to a low-margin business -- or even a no-margin business -- if you don't happen to have a cloud computing offering.

Many SOA vendors, including IBM, understand the conundrum here and have focused more on private clouds, which hold the promise of new hardware and software opportunities. But private clouds also deflect the value of leveraging public cloud offerings, which mean smaller datacenters at the end of the day. What's a multi-billion-dollar SOA vendor to do?

I think the writing is on the wall. As we move forward, there may be some spike in hardware and software sales as enterprises retool and rebuild for cloud computing, specially building SOAs that work and play well with cloud computing. But sooner or later (I'm thinking sooner), the clouds will subsume many enterprise systems, and datacenters will be more a great places to play office hockey (rolling desk chairs, brooms, and a tennis ball) than a place where all that are enterprise systems reside.

SOA will be just fine; it will just learn to live inside and outside of the enterprise. That's fine by me.