Welcome!

SOA & WOA Authors: Elizabeth White, Liz McMillan, Vincent Brasseur, Ignacio M. Llorente, Natalie Lerner

Related Topics: SOA & WOA, Java, .NET, Virtualization, Web 2.0, Cloud Expo, GovIT

SOA & WOA: 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.


@ThingsExpo Stories
How do APIs and IoT relate? The answer is not as simple as merely adding an API on top of a dumb device, but rather about understanding the architectural patterns for implementing an IoT fabric. There are typically two or three trends: Exposing the device to a management framework Exposing that management framework to a business centric logic Exposing that business layer and data to end users. This last trend is the IoT stack, which involves a new shift in the separation of what stuff happens, where data lives and where the interface lies. For instance, it's a mix of architectural styles ...
Connected devices and the Internet of Things are getting significant momentum in 2014. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Jim Hunter, Chief Scientist & Technology Evangelist at Greenwave Systems, examined three key elements that together will drive mass adoption of the IoT before the end of 2015. The first element is the recent advent of robust open source protocols (like AllJoyn and WebRTC) that facilitate M2M communication. The second is broad availability of flexible, cost-effective storage designed to handle the massive surge in back-end data in a world where timely analytics is e...
The Internet of Things will put IT to its ultimate test by creating infinite new opportunities to digitize products and services, generate and analyze new data to improve customer satisfaction, and discover new ways to gain a competitive advantage across nearly every industry. In order to help corporate business units to capitalize on the rapidly evolving IoT opportunities, IT must stand up to a new set of challenges. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jeff Kaplan, Managing Director of THINKstrategies, will examine why IT must finally fulfill its role in support of its SBUs or face a new round of...
We are reaching the end of the beginning with WebRTC, and real systems using this technology have begun to appear. One challenge that faces every WebRTC deployment (in some form or another) is identity management. For example, if you have an existing service – possibly built on a variety of different PaaS/SaaS offerings – and you want to add real-time communications you are faced with a challenge relating to user management, authentication, authorization, and validation. Service providers will want to use their existing identities, but these will have credentials already that are (hopefully) i...
Cultural, regulatory, environmental, political and economic (CREPE) conditions over the past decade are creating cross-industry solution spaces that require processes and technologies from both the Internet of Things (IoT), and Data Management and Analytics (DMA). These solution spaces are evolving into Sensor Analytics Ecosystems (SAE) that represent significant new opportunities for organizations of all types. Public Utilities throughout the world, providing electricity, natural gas and water, are pursuing SmartGrid initiatives that represent one of the more mature examples of SAE. We have s...
"Matrix is an ambitious open standard and implementation that's set up to break down the fragmentation problems that exist in IP messaging and VoIP communication," explained John Woolf, Technical Evangelist at Matrix, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
The Internet of Things will greatly expand the opportunities for data collection and new business models driven off of that data. In her session at @ThingsExpo, Esmeralda Swartz, CMO of MetraTech, discussed how for this to be effective you not only need to have infrastructure and operational models capable of utilizing this new phenomenon, but increasingly service providers will need to convince a skeptical public to participate. Get ready to show them the money!
One of the biggest challenges when developing connected devices is identifying user value and delivering it through successful user experiences. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Mike Kuniavsky, Principal Scientist, Innovation Services at PARC, described an IoT-specific approach to user experience design that combines approaches from interaction design, industrial design and service design to create experiences that go beyond simple connected gadgets to create lasting, multi-device experiences grounded in people's real needs and desires.
P2P RTC will impact the landscape of communications, shifting from traditional telephony style communications models to OTT (Over-The-Top) cloud assisted & PaaS (Platform as a Service) communication services. The P2P shift will impact many areas of our lives, from mobile communication, human interactive web services, RTC and telephony infrastructure, user federation, security and privacy implications, business costs, and scalability. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Robin Raymond, Chief Architect at Hookflash, will walk through the shifting landscape of traditional telephone and voice services ...
Scott Jenson leads a project called The Physical Web within the Chrome team at Google. Project members are working to take the scalability and openness of the web and use it to talk to the exponentially exploding range of smart devices. Nearly every company today working on the IoT comes up with the same basic solution: use my server and you'll be fine. But if we really believe there will be trillions of these devices, that just can't scale. We need a system that is open a scalable and by using the URL as a basic building block, we open this up and get the same resilience that the web enjoys.
The Internet of Things is tied together with a thin strand that is known as time. Coincidentally, at the core of nearly all data analytics is a timestamp. When working with time series data there are a few core principles that everyone should consider, especially across datasets where time is the common boundary. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Jim Scott, Director of Enterprise Strategy & Architecture at MapR Technologies, discussed single-value, geo-spatial, and log time series data. By focusing on enterprise applications and the data center, he will use OpenTSDB as an example t...
The Domain Name Service (DNS) is one of the most important components in networking infrastructure, enabling users and services to access applications by translating URLs (names) into IP addresses (numbers). Because every icon and URL and all embedded content on a website requires a DNS lookup loading complex sites necessitates hundreds of DNS queries. In addition, as more internet-enabled ‘Things' get connected, people will rely on DNS to name and find their fridges, toasters and toilets. According to a recent IDG Research Services Survey this rate of traffic will only grow. What's driving t...
Enthusiasm for the Internet of Things has reached an all-time high. In 2013 alone, venture capitalists spent more than $1 billion dollars investing in the IoT space. With "smart" appliances and devices, IoT covers wearable smart devices, cloud services to hardware companies. Nest, a Google company, detects temperatures inside homes and automatically adjusts it by tracking its user's habit. These technologies are quickly developing and with it come challenges such as bridging infrastructure gaps, abiding by privacy concerns and making the concept a reality. These challenges can't be addressed w...
Explosive growth in connected devices. Enormous amounts of data for collection and analysis. Critical use of data for split-second decision making and actionable information. All three are factors in making the Internet of Things a reality. Yet, any one factor would have an IT organization pondering its infrastructure strategy. How should your organization enhance its IT framework to enable an Internet of Things implementation? In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, James Kirkland, Chief Architect for the Internet of Things and Intelligent Systems at Red Hat, described how to revolutioniz...
Bit6 today issued a challenge to the technology community implementing Web Real Time Communication (WebRTC). To leap beyond WebRTC’s significant limitations and fully leverage its underlying value to accelerate innovation, application developers need to consider the entire communications ecosystem.
The definition of IoT is not new, in fact it’s been around for over a decade. What has changed is the public's awareness that the technology we use on a daily basis has caught up on the vision of an always on, always connected world. If you look into the details of what comprises the IoT, you’ll see that it includes everything from cloud computing, Big Data analytics, “Things,” Web communication, applications, network, storage, etc. It is essentially including everything connected online from hardware to software, or as we like to say, it’s an Internet of many different things. The difference ...
Cloud Expo 2014 TV commercials will feature @ThingsExpo, which was launched in June, 2014 at New York City's Javits Center as the largest 'Internet of Things' event in the world.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Windstream, a leading provider of advanced network and cloud communications, has been named “Silver Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9–11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. Windstream (Nasdaq: WIN), a FORTUNE 500 and S&P 500 company, is a leading provider of advanced network communications, including cloud computing and managed services, to businesses nationwide. The company also offers broadband, phone and digital TV services to consumers primarily in rural areas.
"There is a natural synchronization between the business models, the IoT is there to support ,” explained Brendan O'Brien, Co-founder and Chief Architect of Aria Systems, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at the 15th International Cloud Expo®, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
The major cloud platforms defy a simple, side-by-side analysis. Each of the major IaaS public-cloud platforms offers their own unique strengths and functionality. Options for on-site private cloud are diverse as well, and must be designed and deployed while taking existing legacy architecture and infrastructure into account. Then the reality is that most enterprises are embarking on a hybrid cloud strategy and programs. In this Power Panel at 15th Cloud Expo (http://www.CloudComputingExpo.com), moderated by Ashar Baig, Research Director, Cloud, at Gigaom Research, Nate Gordon, Director of T...