Welcome!

Microservices Expo Authors: Carmen Gonzalez, Yeshim Deniz, Jyoti Bansal, XebiaLabs Blog, Elizabeth White

Related Topics: Microservices Expo, Java IoT, Microsoft Cloud, Containers Expo Blog, Agile Computing, @CloudExpo, Government Cloud

Microservices Expo: Article

SOA and the Cloud: Why Your Cloud Applications Need SOA

Use a services-oriented architecture as the fabric upon which to build your cloud-based applications

Some consider cloud computing to be a cure-all for virtually any type of IT infrastructure. And while the cloud certainly delivers on many of its promises, it will never truly provide all that it's capable of unless it's optimized for integration with other applications and evolution for new requirements. What is the best way to provide this? Use a services-oriented architecture (SOA) as the fabric upon which to build your cloud-based applications. In this article, we'll outline the reasons why an SOA is so important for the cloud, some principles to consider when creating your cloud platform on an SOA.

A marriage made in IT heaven: Cloud and SOA
Cloud promises just about everything a CIO could possibly hope and dream for:  lower IT costs, eradication of daily management tasks, and massively reduced overhead. At this point in its evolution, however, cloud has been so touted and lionized; it's difficult to know how to separate the truth from the hype.

But for those who have had to implement and manage packaged enterprise applications, there are at least some aspects of cloud that are indeed very real, and those involved are eager to take advantage of. Cloud truly can provide a huge positive change in how you run your business, and we know by now that some of the early promises of cloud are indeed being delivered upon. And even though there will always be limitations to what was initially promised, those bulleted lists of what cloud can do for us are, thankfully, mostly true.

What's not as evident though, is the fact that a cloud offering is really just a way of delivering functionality through a service. It's not worth a whole lot if there's not a unified roadmap for how to construct, orchestrate and run all the services your organization relies upon. Without the processes that bring a service to the user, then all you have is some code that's easily accessible. Can the cloud concept still save you time, money and resources? Of course it can, but cloud services and functionality need to be brought together with a unified plan.

Can you guess what that unified plan is? Well, there are a lot of different ways to do it, but the easiest way, and the one that provides the greatest flexibility and most applicable built-in governance is a service-oriented architecture (SOA). There's confusion about the role an SOA plays in a cloud environment, but make no mistake, cloud is not a replacement, nor an incremental improvement of cloud. Rather, SOA acts as a cohesive, flexible infrastructure that enables services to function and integrate. That's partially because, just by its very nature, an SOA is a services-based platform. An application in the cloud can't do much unless it's sitting on top of something that's optimized to recognize and pull together, in an agile way, the various types of components that exist within a service (and even more so when you're combining a variety of services).

Figure 1: A service-oriented architecture at its essence

While the cloud needs SOA, it's important to implement it with adequate services security, governance, adherence to standards, and commitment to flexibility. There are entire operational, developmental, planning, and policy attributes that are crucial to using an SOA for your cloud, and that's what we've built our SOA platform on. Our Integrated SOA Governance solutions provide integration capabilities that enable your enterprise applications to be integrated and communicate with one another.

Okay, so we're a vendor, and we're inclined to think that best results will come in the form of our solution. But we created our SOA governance model mostly because, through years of collective experience and an inordinate amount of research, we recognized that a true SOA environment is the most effective way to unify, govern and manage enterprise apps and to enable your organization to grow in a scalable way without having to re-architect your IT framework. When it comes to cloud, well, there are a lot of different ways to skin this cat, but we think that architecting your enterprise application and services environment with an SOA will ensure that you're truly taking advantage of the cloud.

Putting cloud and SOA together
With the presumption that SOA and the cloud support and extend one another, there's still a great deal of confusion over where an SOA starts and the cloud begins.

Perhaps it's best to think about it in terms of a foundation and the things that sit on top of it. SOA provides a stable foundation, but it's not static. It's inherently flexible; in fact, one of an SOA's greatest attributes is its ability to adapt and integrate to both legacy systems and whatever may change and evolve in your IT landscape. That adaptability allows for any applications and systems to integrate with the basic structure of the platform, and optimizes how applications are accessed and data is transacted. And what platform can produce the best results in this environment? You guessed it - the cloud.

In our view, there really is no point at which an SOA ends and something else "takes over". Rather, we see that an SOA and cloud architecture are complementary, and that to be successful at having an effective architecture, you really need to think about what will optimize your services-based infrastructure. And if you're going to deliver or transact with cloud-based services, it probably makes sense to keep SOA as the foundation for everything, and putting a cloud-based system on top of that. The benefits will be mostly from the interoperability among all the different services that are transacting through the cloud, but are optimized because the SOA allows them to communicate and work with one another seamlessly (this, of course, is subject to your implementation).

Each component in a cloud-based application should be considered a separate Enterprise Service, even if they are not hosted by your IT organization.  To get a cloud-based application working right, and assuring that it will perform as expected over time, one needs a single point of governance over these highly virtualized Enterprise Services throughout the entire service lifecycle.

Starting at the planning stage, creators of a cloud-based application need to develop and track the inventory of cloud services that are available or under construction.  Business analysts, architects and developers need to be able to compare their enterprise SOA roadmap and desired slate of cloud applications with the Enterprise Service inventory, which consists of both cloud-based and traditional Enterprise Services.  Planning governance gives these stakeholders the ability to assign development priority to the cloud services that are most urgently needed, as well as determine the applicability of cloud technology to the problem. For instance, is the application subject to "speed-of-light" concerns?

Figure 2: Stages and elements of a cloud/SOA solution

A development governance solution will provide seamless management of "the cloud" as a development target. Operational governance for cloud services should ensure two important governance factors:  First, that the services themselves implement and enforce relevant policies for data protection, security, and service levels.  Secondly, it should ensure the federation of externally provided cloud services into the enterprise network. This is similar to the way externally provided SaaS services need to be federated for policy and message exchange pattern mediation.

Cloud services are subject to the same governance process as any other enterprise service, and as such need the same levels of policy governance.  For cloud services this includes the ability to define cross-cutting policies during the planning process and validate and enforce these policies through development and operations.

SOA Software product suite allows for easy management of SOA Governance throughout the plan-build-run service lifecycle, anchoring the process with strong policy governance. In planning, SOA Software Portfolio Manager allows planning stakeholders to develop an SOA roadmap, compare it to existing and planned services, and assign priority to selected services.  In development, SOA Software's Repository Manager makes sure that enterprise services confirm to appropriate standards and guidelines, providing powerful change management capabilities.  It also governs the consumption process, facilitating controlled and measurable asset reuse. When services are deployed, SOA Software Service Manager implements and enforces defined policies for security, performance, and reliability to ensure that enterprise services function as intended.  SOA Software Policy Manager works in concert with these products to keep policy definitions, and associated metadata, consistent as the service matures from planning through development and then into operation.

Arriving at Cloud Nirvana
Keep in mind that it's not that SOA provides the glue, or that it fills in any gaps, but rather in the model of a well-constructed enterprise architecture, SOA is both the support net and the building blocks that allow you to truly benefit from the cloud. But if you're trying to boil it down to its essence, it comes down to these points where SOA delivers value and cohesion for your cloud:

  • Governance: what's not often stated about the cloud is the need for thorough and comprehensive governance. Nothing provides that better than a services-based framework that actually requires standards to keep all the disparate applications communicating and transacting with one another.
  • Integration: your apps from yesterday, the ones you have now, and the ones you're going to buy/develop in the coming years will all need to integrate and interact irrespective of complexity. SOA is entirely built on the precept that THAT is its main function - to take processes, no matter where they come from, and make them worth with other processes. If you doubt that, we'll invite you to chat with any of our customers and they can describe how much easier things got once they focused on SOA.
  • Common purpose: applications are meant to be used and users don't care where the app lives, or what it took to bring the functionality to them. They just want it up when they are, and ready to transact business 24/7. The cloud is supposed to provide the house in which that's all done, but it just won't get done unless there's a flexible backbone that enables all of that. Again, that's the job of SOA.

We know that there are dozens of other considerations, some at the business rules level, and some having to do with hardcore code compliance. But ultimately when we need to take a solution back to our company and help them be successful, we'll think about these things and realize that if we can agree on a common purpose for our apps, integrate them, and provide the necessary governance, then we're ready to establish our presence in the cloud and prepared to grow and adapt.

When you get there, when you get to that point where you're running your applications in the cloud and benefiting from substantial cost savings and watching integrated apps play nicely with one another, and the CEO pats you on the back and tells you what a great job you're doing, then you will know that you are, in fact, in cloud nirvana.

More Stories By Roberto Medrano

Roberto Medrano, Executive Vice President at SOA Software, is a recognized executive in the information technology fields of SOA, internet security, governance, and compliance. He has extensive experience with both start-ups and large companies, having been involved at the beginning of four IT industries: EDA, Open Systems, Computer Security and now SOA.

Prior to joining SOA Software, he was CEO of PoliVec, a leader in security policy. Before joining PoliVec, he was one of the top 100 Sr. Executives at Hewlett Packard. At Hewlett-Packard (HP) served as the General Manager of the E-Services and Internet Security Divisions. Medrano has held executive positions at Finjan, Avnet Inc, and Sun Microsystems. Medrano participated in President Clinton’s White House Security Summit and has been an active member on National Cyber Security Summits, and the White House National Strategy to Secure Cyberspace.

Medrano has been selected as one of “The 100 most influential Hispanics in US”, “The 100 most influential Latinos in Silicon Valley” “Top 100 most influential Hispanics in Information Technology” and is co-founder and CEO for Hispanic-Net, a non-profit organization. Medrano holds an MBA from UCLA, a MSEE from MIT, BSEE from USC.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


@MicroservicesExpo Stories
NHK, Japan Broadcasting, will feature the upcoming @ThingsExpo Silicon Valley in a special 'Internet of Things' and smart technology documentary that will be filmed on the expo floor between November 3 to 5, 2015, in Santa Clara. NHK is the sole public TV network in Japan equivalent to the BBC in the UK and the largest in Asia with many award-winning science and technology programs. Japanese TV is producing a documentary about IoT and Smart technology and will be covering @ThingsExpo Silicon Val...
Cloud Expo, Inc. has announced today that Aruna Ravichandran, vice president of DevOps Product and Solutions Marketing at CA Technologies, has been named co-conference chair of DevOps at Cloud Expo 2017. The @DevOpsSummit at Cloud Expo New York will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, New York, and @DevOpsSummit at Cloud Expo Silicon Valley will take place Oct. 31-Nov. 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Is your application too difficult to manage? Do changes take dozens of developers hundreds of hours to execute, and frequently result in downtime across all your site’s functions? It sounds like you have a monolith! A monolith is one of the three main software architectures that define most applications. Whether you’ve intentionally set out to create a monolith or not, it’s worth at least weighing the pros and cons of the different architectural approaches and deciding which one makes the most s...
Back in February of 2017, Andrew Clay Schafer of Pivotal tweeted the following: “seriously tho, the whole software industry is stuck on deployment when we desperately need architecture and telemetry.” Intrigue in a 140 characters. For me, I hear Andrew saying, “we’re jumping to step 5 before we’ve successfully completed steps 1-4.”
Cloud promises the agility required by today’s digital businesses. As organizations adopt cloud based infrastructures and services, their IT resources become increasingly dynamic and hybrid in nature. Managing these require modern IT operations and tools. In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Raj Sundaram, Senior Principal Product Manager at CA Technologies, will discuss how to modernize your IT operations in order to proactively manage your hybrid cloud and IT environments. He will be sharing be...
Developers want to create better apps faster. Static clouds are giving way to scalable systems, with dynamic resource allocation and application monitoring. You won't hear that chant from users on any picket line, but helping developers to create better apps faster is the mission of Lee Atchison, principal cloud architect and advocate at New Relic Inc., based in San Francisco. His singular job is to understand and drive the industry in the areas of cloud architecture, microservices, scalability ...
This recent research on cloud computing from the Register delves a little deeper than many of the "We're all adopting cloud!" surveys we've seen. They found that meaningful cloud adoption and the idea of the cloud-first enterprise are still not reality for many businesses. The Register's stats also show a more gradual cloud deployment trend over the past five years, not any sort of explosion. One important takeaway is that coherence across internal and external clouds is essential for IT right n...
Enterprise architects are increasingly adopting multi-cloud strategies as they seek to utilize existing data center assets, leverage the advantages of cloud computing and avoid cloud vendor lock-in. This requires a globally aware traffic management strategy that can monitor infrastructure health across data centers and end-user experience globally, while responding to control changes and system specification at the speed of today’s DevOps teams. In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Josh Gray, Chie...
To more closely examine the variety of ways in which IT departments around the world are integrating cloud services, and the effect hybrid IT has had on their organizations and IT job roles, SolarWinds recently released the SolarWinds IT Trends Report 2017: Portrait of a Hybrid Organization. This annual study consists of survey-based research that explores significant trends, developments, and movements related to and directly affecting IT and IT professionals.
Today we can collect lots and lots of performance data. We build beautiful dashboards and even have fancy query languages to access and transform the data. Still performance data is a secret language only a couple of people understand. The more business becomes digital the more stakeholders are interested in this data including how it relates to business. Some of these people have never used a monitoring tool before. They have a question on their mind like “How is my application doing” but no id...
In large enterprises, environment provisioning and server provisioning account for a significant portion of the operations team's time. This often leaves users frustrated while they wait for these services. For instance, server provisioning can take several days and sometimes even weeks. At the same time, digital transformation means the need for server and environment provisioning is constantly growing. Organizations are adopting agile methodologies and software teams are increasing the speed ...
In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Scott Davis, CTO of Embotics, will discuss how automation can provide the dynamic management required to cost-effectively deliver microservices and container solutions at scale. He will discuss how flexible automation is the key to effectively bridging and seamlessly coordinating both IT and developer needs for component orchestration across disparate clouds – an increasingly important requirement at today’s multi-cloud enterprise.
Keeping pace with advancements in software delivery processes and tooling is taxing even for the most proficient organizations. Point tools, platforms, open source and the increasing adoption of private and public cloud services requires strong engineering rigor – all in the face of developer demands to use the tools of choice. As Agile has settled in as a mainstream practice, now DevOps has emerged as the next wave to improve software delivery speed and output. To make DevOps work, organization...
In his general session at 19th Cloud Expo, Manish Dixit, VP of Product and Engineering at Dice, discussed how Dice leverages data insights and tools to help both tech professionals and recruiters better understand how skills relate to each other and which skills are in high demand using interactive visualizations and salary indicator tools to maximize earning potential. Manish Dixit is VP of Product and Engineering at Dice. As the leader of the Product, Engineering and Data Sciences team at D...
Software as a service (SaaS), one of the earliest and most successful cloud services, has reached mainstream status. According to Cisco, by 2019 more than four-fifths (83 percent) of all data center traffic will be based in the cloud, up from 65 percent today. The majority of this traffic will be applications. Businesses of all sizes are adopting a variety of SaaS-based services – everything from collaboration tools to mission-critical commerce-oriented applications. The rise in SaaS usage has m...
The proper isolation of resources is essential for multi-tenant environments. The traditional approach to isolate resources is, however, rather heavyweight. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Igor Drobiazko, co-founder of elastic.io, drew upon his own experience with operating a Docker container-based infrastructure on a large scale and present a lightweight solution for resource isolation using microservices. He also discussed the implementation of microservices in data and application integrat...
We'd all like to fulfill that "find a job you love and you'll never work a day in your life" cliché. But in reality, every job (even if it's our dream job) comes with its downsides. For you, the constant fight against shadow IT might get on your last nerves. For your developer coworkers, infrastructure management is the roadblock that stands in the way of focusing on coding. As you watch more and more applications and processes move to the cloud, technology is coming to developers' rescue-most r...
2016 has been an amazing year for Docker and the container industry. We had 3 major releases of Docker engine this year , and tremendous increase in usage. The community has been following along and contributing amazing Docker resources to help you learn and get hands-on experience. Here’s some of the top read and viewed content for the year. Of course releases are always really popular, particularly when they fit requests we had from the community.
Even for the most seasoned IT pros, the cloud is complicated. It can be difficult just to wrap your head around the many terms and acronyms that make up the cloud dictionary-not to mention actually mastering the technology. Unfortunately, complicated cloud terms are often combined to the point that their meanings are lost in a sea of conflicting opinions. Two terms that are used interchangeably (but shouldn't be) are hybrid cloud and multicloud. If you want to be the cloud expert your company ne...
SYS-CON Events announced today that CollabNet, a global leader in enterprise software development, release automation and DevOps solutions, will be a Bronze Sponsor of SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, taking place from June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. CollabNet offers a broad range of solutions with the mission of helping modern organizations deliver quality software at speed. The company’s latest innovation, the DevOps Lifecycle Manager (DLM), supports Value S...