Take a look at cloud computing services these days and you’ll often find them coupled with the term “service oriented architecture.” While this is a trendy IT buzzword, experts caution that they are not to be confused, even though the two terms can be combined to support service deployments. Through cloud computing, enterprises are able to gain access to services hosted on third-party servers on the internet. With service oriented architecture, enterprises take advantage of integrated application services in a more lightweight fashion than traditional application platforms.
What is SOA?
Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) is understood as a flexible set of design principles used during the phases of systems development and integration. A deployed SOA-based architecture provides a loosely-integrated suite of services that can be used within multiple business domains. While it’s closely related with many cloud-based services, SOA is mainly for enterprise use.
Although certain industry experts say that SOA is dead, or at least overtaken by cloud computing, BPM, mashups and SaaS, others believe that SOA and the cloud should go hand in hand. Anne Thomas Manes, vice president and research director at Burton Group took the former opinion, stating in plain terms that SOA “turned into a great failed experiment – at least for most organizations.”
According to Manes, SOA failed to deliver its promised benefits and after the investment of millions of dollars, IT systems are not better than before. In some cases, they are even worse off, with higher costs and longer project completion times. However not everyone shares Manes’ opinion.
“The cloud serves as a good way to deploy services in an SOA environment,” according to Sanjiva Weerawarana, CEO of the open source SOA software vendor WSO2. While he points out that SOA and the cloud support each other, but are not based on the same ideas, “Cloud computing is a deployment architecture, not an architectural approach for how [to] architect your enterprise IT ([as SOA is].”
SOA Meets Cloud Computing
It seems clear that SOA and the cloud are connected intrinsically. They share some of the major reusable components and common technologies required to run large-scale components over open networks. Most organizations that implement SOA in a modular way are generally ready to move their modules to the cloud.
According to Steven Martin, senior director for developer platform technology at Microsoft:
“… the SOA conversation is starting to shift to the cloud. The cloud is a logical hosting environment for services. Service orientation is a way to build applications, whereas ‘cloud’ refers to the infrastructure as well as the delivery model for that application.”
“SOA is an architectural style for building applications, loosely coupled, allowing composition. Can we build a datacenter infrastructure on SOA principles? Yes, and that’s the cloud, so it’s a service-oriented infrastructure. It’s taking that architectural principle of SOA and applying it to an infrastructure.”
SOA offers the backbone to enable both user front-end applications and enterprise back-end servers to easily access cloud services. With SOA already in place, the migration to the cloud will be more convenient, faster and more secure.
“The immediate benefit of combining SOA and cloud computing is time,” says Brenda M. Michelson, a business technology consultant. “Reaching out to the cloud for business or technology capabilities allows SOA initiatives to compress time to value. In the longer term, the benefits include improved collaboration, customer satisfaction and business growth. By offering SOA-based business capabilities to the cloud, businesses can improve interactions with business partners and existing customers, and/or generate new revenue streams.”
What can SOA offer you?
SOA offers an easy transition into the cloud computing environment. Cloud computing is largely a consumption and delivery model shaped by consumer internet services. The capabilities of the cloud are defined as ‘services’. This is why cloud-based services require the service orientation provided by SOA.
Some industry experts have commented that the cloud is a type of, or even replacement of, SOA. However, this does not reflect the complementary nature of the relationship between SOA and the cloud. Each supplies specific capability and functionality, and the two reinforce one another in order to provide an enterprise agility solution.
SOA presents an architectural approach that creates services that can be both shared and reused. It changes current vertical applications into a number of components (services) that are reused across multiple applications, providing savings and improving agility, thus making changes faster and more cost-effective.
By contrast, cloud computing provides ease of access to and usage of services. Cloud computing delivers a number of “x-as-a-service” capabilities, for instance software-as-a-service, or platform-as-a-service.
Cloud computing involves repeatable, standardized, easy access to shared hardware and software at low cost. Combined, SOA and cloud offer a complete service-based solution.
This article takes a look at service oriented architecture (SOA), which is a flexible set of design principles used during the phases of systems development and integration. SOA and cloud computing share some of the major reusable components and common technologies required to run large-scale components over open networks. The article takes a look at how SOA and cloud computing complement each other and can be used in tandem to offer a complete service-based solution.
CCSK Exam Preparation
In preparation for the Certificate of Cloud Security Knowledge (CCSK), a security professional should be comfortable with topics related to this post, including:
- Cloud service models (Domain 1)