The secret to cloud success: Get a grasp on SOA

Before you move to the cloud, take some time to consider your IT architecture

Those IT organizations that move to cloud computing are moving to SOA (service-oriented architecture), whether they understand it or not. Hear me out: Private and public clouds often rely on APIs for their functionality, which are typically Web services that can be combined and recombined into solutions. The result: SOA, at its essence.

The problem is that many of those who define and implement cloud computing don't have a good grasp of SOA. Although they are building a SOA by default, they have no handle on the proper steps and the interworkings of all the pieces. They end up with a Franken-SOA, where some aspects of the cloud solution are better thought out than others.

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What's a Franken-SOA? It's a bunch of cloud services that become parts of core applications or processes, mostly on-premise. These services provide core functionality, including storage and compute features, that are used in a composite application or perhaps a composite process. However, they're used without a good architectural structure and become both difficult to change and difficult to manage.

In Franken-SOAs, there is no governance, no identity management, no service management, and no service discovery. It's like driving an Indy car without a steering wheel. It's very powerful, but you will hit the wall -- quickly.

The tragedy of the situation is that cloud-driven Franken-SOAs can be avoided with some planning and architectural forethought. But most of those who define the use of clouds these days are more about speed to deployment than thinking through the architecture. Indeed, many consider cloud computing to be a replacement for SOA. They don't grasp the value of SOA -- or any architecture and planning discipline, for that matter.

I suspect that Franken-SOAs will continue to walk the earth. Hopefully, the angry villagers with torches and pitchforks will drive them out at some point.

This article, "The secret to cloud success: Get a grasp on SOA," 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 © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

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