Welcome!

Microsoft Cloud Authors: Stackify Blog, Liz McMillan, David H Deans, Automic Blog, Pat Romanski

Related Topics: Microservices Expo, Java IoT, Microsoft Cloud, Containers Expo Blog, Agile Computing, @CloudExpo, Government Cloud

Microservices Expo: 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
SYS-CON Events announced today that Hitachi, the leading provider the Internet of Things and Digital Transformation, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Hitachi Data Systems, a wholly owned subsidiary of Hitachi, Ltd., offers an integrated portfolio of services and solutions that enable digital transformation through enhanced data management, governance, mobility and analytics. We help globa...
Five years ago development was seen as a dead-end career, now it’s anything but – with an explosion in mobile and IoT initiatives increasing the demand for skilled engineers. But apart from having a ready supply of great coders, what constitutes true ‘DevOps Royalty’? It’ll be the ability to craft resilient architectures, supportability, security everywhere across the software lifecycle. In his keynote at @DevOpsSummit at 20th Cloud Expo, Jeffrey Scheaffer, GM and SVP, Continuous Delivery Busine...
NHK, Japan Broadcasting, will feature the upcoming @ThingsExpo Silicon Valley in a special 'Internet of Things' and smart technology documentary that will be filmed on the expo floor between November 3 to 5, 2015, in Santa Clara. NHK is the sole public TV network in Japan equivalent to the BBC in the UK and the largest in Asia with many award-winning science and technology programs. Japanese TV is producing a documentary about IoT and Smart technology and will be covering @ThingsExpo Silicon Val...
The age of Digital Disruption is evolving into the next era – Digital Cohesion, an age in which applications securely self-assemble and deliver predictive services that continuously adapt to user behavior. Information from devices, sensors and applications around us will drive services seamlessly across mobile and fixed devices/infrastructure. This evolution is happening now in software defined services and secure networking. Four key drivers – Performance, Economics, Interoperability and Trust ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Hitachi, the leading provider the Internet of Things and Digital Transformation, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Hitachi Data Systems, a wholly owned subsidiary of Hitachi, Ltd., offers an integrated portfolio of services and solutions that enable digital transformation through enhanced data management, governance, mobility and analytics. We help globa...
DevOps is often described as a combination of technology and culture. Without both, DevOps isn't complete. However, applying the culture to outdated technology is a recipe for disaster; as response times grow and connections between teams are delayed by technology, the culture will die. A Nutanix Enterprise Cloud has many benefits that provide the needed base for a true DevOps paradigm.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Hitachi Data Systems, a wholly owned subsidiary of Hitachi LTD., will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City. Hitachi Data Systems (HDS) will be featuring the Hitachi Content Platform (HCP) portfolio. This is the industry’s only offering that allows organizations to bring together object storage, file sync and share, cloud storage gateways, and sophisticated search an...
SYS-CON Events announced today that CollabNet, a global leader in enterprise software development, release automation and DevOps solutions, will be a Bronze Sponsor of SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, taking place from June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. CollabNet offers a broad range of solutions with the mission of helping modern organizations deliver quality software at speed. The company’s latest innovation, the DevOps Lifecycle Manager (DLM), supports Value S...
@GonzalezCarmen has been ranked the Number One Influencer and @ThingsExpo has been named the Number One Brand in the “M2M 2016: Top 100 Influencers and Brands” by Analytic. Onalytica analyzed tweets over the last 6 months mentioning the keywords M2M OR “Machine to Machine.” They then identified the top 100 most influential brands and individuals leading the discussion on Twitter.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Juniper Networks (NYSE: JNPR), an industry leader in automated, scalable and secure networks, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Juniper Networks challenges the status quo with products, solutions and services that transform the economics of networking. The company co-innovates with customers and partners to deliver automated, scalable and secure network...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Super Micro Computer, Inc., a global leader in compute, storage and networking technologies, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Supermicro (NASDAQ: SMCI), the leading innovator in high-performance, high-efficiency server technology, is a premier provider of advanced server Building Block Solutions® for Data Center, Cloud Computing, Enterprise IT, Hadoop/...
Amazon has gradually rolled out parts of its IoT offerings in the last year, but these are just the tip of the iceberg. In addition to optimizing their back-end AWS offerings, Amazon is laying the ground work to be a major force in IoT – especially in the connected home and office. Amazon is extending its reach by building on its dominant Cloud IoT platform, its Dash Button strategy, recently announced Replenishment Services, the Echo/Alexa voice recognition control platform, the 6-7 strategic...
The explosion of new web/cloud/IoT-based applications and the data they generate are transforming our world right before our eyes. In this rush to adopt these new technologies, organizations are often ignoring fundamental questions concerning who owns the data and failing to ask for permission to conduct invasive surveillance of their customers. Organizations that are not transparent about how their systems gather data telemetry without offering shared data ownership risk product rejection, regu...
Judith Hurwitz is president and CEO of Hurwitz & Associates, a Needham, Mass., research and consulting firm focused on emerging technology, including big data, cognitive computing and governance. She is co-author of the book Cognitive Computing and Big Data Analytics, published in 2015. Her Cloud Expo session, "What Is the Business Imperative for Cognitive Computing?" is scheduled for Wednesday, June 8, at 8:40 a.m. In it, she puts cognitive computing into perspective with its value to the busin...
SYS-CON Events announced today that T-Mobile will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. As America's Un-carrier, T-Mobile US, Inc., is redefining the way consumers and businesses buy wireless services through leading product and service innovation. The Company's advanced nationwide 4G LTE network delivers outstanding wireless experiences to 67.4 million customers who are unwilling to compromise on ...
In his general session at 19th Cloud Expo, Manish Dixit, VP of Product and Engineering at Dice, discussed how Dice leverages data insights and tools to help both tech professionals and recruiters better understand how skills relate to each other and which skills are in high demand using interactive visualizations and salary indicator tools to maximize earning potential. Manish Dixit is VP of Product and Engineering at Dice. As the leader of the Product, Engineering and Data Sciences team at D...
Bert Loomis was a visionary. This general session will highlight how Bert Loomis and people like him inspire us to build great things with small inventions. In their general session at 19th Cloud Expo, Harold Hannon, Architect at IBM Bluemix, and Michael O'Neill, Strategic Business Development at Nvidia, discussed the accelerating pace of AI development and how IBM Cloud and NVIDIA are partnering to bring AI capabilities to "every day," on-demand. They also reviewed two "free infrastructure" pr...
With billions of sensors deployed worldwide, the amount of machine-generated data will soon exceed what our networks can handle. But consumers and businesses will expect seamless experiences and real-time responsiveness. What does this mean for IoT devices and the infrastructure that supports them? More of the data will need to be handled at - or closer to - the devices themselves.
New competitors, disruptive technologies, and growing expectations are pushing every business to both adopt and deliver new digital services. This ‘Digital Transformation’ demands rapid delivery and continuous iteration of new competitive services via multiple channels, which in turn demands new service delivery techniques – including DevOps. In this power panel at @DevOpsSummit 20th Cloud Expo, moderated by DevOps Conference Co-Chair Andi Mann, panelists will examine how DevOps helps to meet th...
NHK, Japan Broadcasting, will feature the upcoming @ThingsExpo Silicon Valley in a special 'Internet of Things' and smart technology documentary that will be filmed on the expo floor between November 3 to 5, 2015, in Santa Clara. NHK is the sole public TV network in Japan equivalent to the BBC in the UK and the largest in Asia with many award-winning science and technology programs. Japanese TV is producing a documentary about IoT and Smart technology and will be covering @ThingsExpo Silicon Val...