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Why cloud computing providers don’t get SOA

Too busy selling infrastructure, most cloud computing providers out there have no clue as to the value of SOA to their core business.

You would think that cloud computing providers, including IaaS, PaaS and SaaS providers, would be all over the concept of SOA. It’s a natural fit. SOA has the ability to abstract cloud services into processes and composites, and turn those processes and composites into business solutions.

The reality is that most cloud providers out there have no clue as to the value of SOA to their core business. Rather than capture that value, they move along the path toward the cloud by selling infrastructure rather than solutions.

Making the links between SOA and the cloud is key to the success of the cloud, and further promotes the value of SOA. The problem is that SOA concepts are pretty complex and heady, and many of those charged with defining and building cloud technology prefer easier-to-understand solutions.

The answer to this problem is to provide some key guidance for the cloud providers out there. Here is what I recommend:

First, provide suggested patterns of use around key SOA concepts, including service discovery, service provisioning, service management, and service governance. The idea is to put the use of cloud services into an architectural context. That means, for instance, the ability to find a database service, provision that service, monitor and manage that service, and then put and pull data into and from that service. Perhaps it could also mean developing some use cases around how to leverage that service in specific applications and architectures, including SOA.

Second, link to service design and deployment tools, such as those for Oracle and IBM. The idea there is to make use of cloud-delivered services that can be part of the service directories, and become piece parts for building processes and composites. In other words, it’s the ability for clouds to provide the raw materials used to build solutions, mixing and matching the services with those created locally. The value is very apparent once you go through that process. Just ask anyone who has leveraged Google APIs such as Mapping and Commerce. They are handy.

Finally, there is the ability to teach providers’ user bases about the advantages of leveraging SOA as an approach to leveraging the cloud. The commitment here is to hire the right people to provide guidance, and thus turn tactical cloud computing deals that may account for a few thousand dollars monthly, into larger, more strategic deals that allow cloud computing to become a major force within a customer enterprise.

I suspect that both the concept of cloud computing and SOA will find each other as enterprises attempt to effectively leverage cloud computing. The best path to that destination is SOA.

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