The hype is around cloud computing, but to go anywhere, extending the reach of your SOA is paramount.

by Ronald Nunan on January 6, 2011

Cloud computing is a topic that is hard to ignore. You see it in the trade news, you hear about it from industry pundits, and you watch, often with some discomfort, companies attach themselves to its newly found cachet–in any way they can. A few years ago this was SOA.

Today, SOA’s stock is not high, though in reality, many companies are working on creating reliable and manageable cross-application use of information. While no longer sitting on top of the hype pyramid, the real work of building an SOA—producing manageable cross-enterprise services—is happening. This is a good thing. The reality is an SOA (a mature and broad offering of manageable services) needs to be in-place for our expectations of cloud-computing to move forward. Cloud-computing is not just off-premise CRM and out-sourced computing, it is the promise and ability to use what we want and need, when we want and need it, from wherever we want to be.

In a recent analyst presentation that addressed enterprise IT trends, the following points were made:

  • Web use will continue to climb and will become more common in both work and non-work related activities
  • Over the next 5 years, more than half of web traffic will move to devices or ‘web’ style applications
  • These applications will more heavily depend on cloud applications and services to function

This fits the concept of cloud computing as the pervasive approach for our use of technology—for work and leisure. The information also shows that to be successful, a mature services approach to our application inventory needs to be in-place:

  • SaaS has a heavy dependence on programmatic access
  • Large consumers of cloud services are applications themselves

There were many other data points presented, but the idea is clear, the ‘Cloud Infrastructure’ itself is dependent on easy and predictable access to information. Cloud applications will not be stand-alone monolithic siloes that we connect to get what we want; they will be compositions of services and information—or at a minimum dependent on them.

Even today we see this happening. Incorporating cloud applications drives the need to service enable other systems. For example, using an off-premise CRM is popular and easy—think salesforce.com. Though to get the best value out of it, tying in your broader enterprise information like your financial accounting or ERP systems into it is needed—think of integrating salesforce.com with your existing systems.

While completely logical, most enterprise class financial and ERP systems are typically more closed than open. To overcome this hurdle, we see companies embark on application-driven services enablement projects. When successful, the off-premise cloud-based CRM application operates seamlessly as an as in-house application. But the other result is the service enablement of key applications within the enterprise.

To successfully pursue the hype and promise of the cloud, we will inevitably need to service enable the inventory of applications we have today. SOA is, and needs to happen, now—even if it is not on the top of the hype pyramid anymore.

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