Cloud Computing Unleashes the Potential of Service Oriented Architecture

The concept of Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) has been around for a long time, and some people believe it has not fulfilled its promise. To the contrary, SOA is well on its way to fulfilling its promise and the rise of cloud computing infrastructure is an important step in this process. In fact, cloud computing is already beginning to unleash the potential of SOA and much more is on the way.

David Linthicum, Editor-in-Chief of Sys-Con’s Virtualization Journal, has it mostly right. He says:

Let’s get this straight: SOA is an architectural pattern, simply put the ability to create an architecture around the notion of many services that are bound together to create and re-create business solutions. Cloud computing is a set of enabling technologies as a potential target platform or technological approach for that architecture…One is the way of doing something, while the other is a potential outcome. SOA doesn’t go away. It’s not replaced. It’s architecture. Cloud computing is a potential outcome of that architecture, thus cloud computing needs architecture, and vice versa.

David’s rant was an argument against complaints by certain industry pundits that cloud computing is just an over-hyped reincarnation of SOA.

I agree with David as far as he goes, but he can take his point further. He is correct to call SOA an architectural pattern. He is correct to call cloud computing a “target platform.” But the real news in this story is that a target platform is exactly what SOA has been lacking all these years. All applications must run somewhere; applications need infrastructure.

SOA is an application architecture; cloud computing is an infrastructure architecture. It’s that simple. This marriage is long overdue.

SOA applications inherently call upon Web services to request resources, so to run properly SOA applications need infrastructure architecture that lends itself SOA. Cloud processing (dynamic allocation of CPU resources) and cloud storage (Web services API access to storage resources) infrastructure is the most natural target platform for SOA apps because cloud infrastructure is designed to scale in the way implied by the SOA approach to application architecture.

Until recently, where could a SOA app find a venue to stretch its legs? There weren’t many options until the earliest cloud computing service providers deployed large-scale cloud infrastructure. The SOA world owes Amazon and Rackspace a big thanks for making the infrastructure investment required to launch S3, EC2, CloudSites, CloudFiles, and CloudServers. As the rest of the Hosting market–and broader IT service provider industry–follows suit, SOA applications will flourish.

So David, you’re right. Not only do cloud computing and SOA “need each other,” but together they will ultimately justify all the hype.

Leave a Comment