Cloud API and service designers, stop thinking small

To deliver rich business value, we must devote more discipline and attention to how we interface with core cloud services

Back in June, I walked you through the steps to define and design a cloud computing API or service. My goal was to get those who build private, public, and hybrid clouds to think a bit more around how these APIs are designed, developed, deployed, and managed.

The core problem is that APIs are services, which are typically used in the context of a service-oriented architecture, but SOA is not as cool as it was 10 years ago. To properly design services, you have to consider how resources should be used in service-oriented ways, including how well they work and play within infrastructure and application architecture.

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The focus must shift away from fine-grained APIs that provide some type of primitive service, such as pushing data to a block of storage or perhaps making a request to a cloud-rooted database. To go beyond primitives, you must understand how these services should be used in a much larger architectural context. In other words, you need to understand how businesses will employ these services to form real workplace solutions -- inside and outside the enterprise.

What are cloud providers and IT staff building private clouds to do? Once you've (re)considered how these services will be designed in the context of the larger use cases where cloud computing can provide measurable value to the business, it's a matter of decomposing the desired functions into core services, or cloud APIs. The more use cases considered, the more likely that the lower-level services will nail most of the business requirements. In other words, this is a top-down problem.

In my real-world encounters as a consultant, I find service design to be a more haphazard process. However, that need not be the case if you understand the use cases and how all these elements should exist in architecture. But few organizations have reached that level of thinking. As we all smarten up, count on major redesign work for your services.

This article, "Cloud API and service designers, stop thinking small," originally appeared at Read more of David Linthicum's Cloud Computing blog and track the latest developments in cloud computing at For the latest business technology news, follow on Twitter.

Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.

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