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FAQ: The basics of the cloud and SOA

Some people may think SOA is irrelevant because of the cloud, while others assert the cloud and SOA go hand in hand.

Some people don't think SOA is relevant in the cloud age, but that isn't what industry insiders say. Coupling the cloud and SOA can translate into major cost-saving benefits for enterprises due to improved agility and flexibility.

Read on to learn about the cloud, SOA and how they can be a powerful resource when combined.

What is the cloud and cloud integration?

In an IT sense, a cloud is a network component that transmits information between two points. A public cloud makes it possible for an organization to share resources, such as applications, over the Internet. A private or internal cloud is sometimes preferred by organizations because it is protected by a firewall and allows for greater data control. A hybrid cloud is a combination of a public and private cloud where an organization maintains some aspects and a third party manages other areas.

Cloud integration is the practice of moving or replicating data between a pair of cloud applications. With cloud integration, users can access data from any device with an Internet connection. Another reason why organizations seek cloud integration is because it's scalable, allowing for flexibility as needs change.

How do the cloud and SOA fit together?

Marrying SOA and the cloud can translate to economic advantages for enterprises. With a solid SOA implementation in place, Forrester Research's Randy Heffner said it's possible to replace applications without having to alter the service interface. This is important when connecting various cloud environments. "This is the relationship between SOA and cloud," he said. "Cloud is where things are running; SOA is how you get there."

Expert David Linthicum also believes the cloud and SOA go hand-in-hand. Many organizations don't have sufficient agility and extensibility, he said, which is exactly what SOA brings to the table. The problem many organizations face, Linthicum said, is they turn to technology over techniques to solve problems. The cloud can exasperate issues, such as silos, in an enterprise. Using SOA can help ameliorate such issues by shifting the focus to understanding existing IT resources from the bottom up.

Do APIs fit in with the cloud and SOA?

Like the cloud, an application program interface (API) allows for different programs to communicate with one another. Organizations of all sizes are dealing with an influx of information and looking for ways to expedite development, said Shawn Rogers, VP of Enterprise Management Associates. APIs work well with SOA in that they both aim to add flexibility. "It's sort of the yin and the yang; if you want to use APIs, you want to have an architecture that is open to doing that," Rogers said. 

Where do the cloud and SOA fall short?

While coupling SOA and the cloud can result in slashing costs for enterprises and faster time to market, that doesn't mean the powerful duo is the silver bullet to every technology snag. Issues like legacy application management, security and governance can still plague projects. George Lawton wrotein a recent article that some organizations are gravitating towards hybrid integration paradigms to meet their needs. By taking a hybrid approach, organizations can have the more challenging and time-consuming tasks managed by a third party without having to give up complete ownership.

Maxine Giza is the site editor for SearchSOA and can be reached at

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