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SOA World Focuses on Enterprise-Wide SOA and Cloud Computing Solutions
The convergence of SOA and cloud computing

If you've been following me on Twitter, or through my other blogs, you already know that I made it to the SOA World Conference & Expo in San Jose, CA, which was collocated with Cloud Computing Conference & Expo. I did the keynote on Wednesday and then stayed around for some of the sessions and some networking.

Overall, SOA World was well attended and the expo hall was full of SOA vendors. The most interesting aspect of this conference was the cloud computing portion and how there was so much crossover with SOA. Many of the SOA players out there are diving into the cloud computing area, and most who are already into cloud computing are traditional software vendors that have moved their stuff into the "as a service" space. I suspect this will continue, considering that Salesforce.com just renamed themselves a cloud computing company, and indeed they are.

So, what are the trends that I gathered from the conference?

First, as companies move from departmental problem domains to the entire enterprise there is much more of a focus on enterprise-wide SOA. Thus, the focus is on performance and scalability, sharing services, and information mediation between domains. While the project-level SOAs are becoming a reality, those who drive enterprise architecture are thinking long and hard about SOA as a holistic concept within their enterprise. Indeed, the farther SOA can reach, the more value SOA will have.

Second, SOA governance: What the heck is it? How do we create it? And what's the right technology? There is still a lot of confusion here. I really blame the vendors on this one; they are all running in different directions with different messages. SOA governance is indeed critical to SOA; however, you really need to focus on the people and processes, and then on the technology. Technology never solves anything without a strategy, especially complex technology such as SOA governance.

Finally, the focus is on short-term quick wins that save money now, and not so much on long-term strategic advantages. Can't blame them there; budgets are getting hacked all over the place. There is no reason why you can't tie a SOA project to a key tactical win for the business when it has a clearly positive effect on the bottom line. Those types of projects will go a long way to prove the value of SOA.

The other angle was the convergence of SOA and cloud computing. While the links are clear to me, most are still confused by this relationship. Very simply put, SOA provides a framework to approach architecture for the enterprise, while the use of cloud computing resources - in the context of SOA - provides additional value. Indeed, SOA brings agility to the IT infrastructure and also prepares the enterprise to leverage cloud computing by creating the necessary interfaces.

This symbiotic relationship between the concepts is further able to drive the enterprise to a state where services and processes may be run inside or outside of the firewall, as required by the business. In essence, this extends your SOA out to the platform of the Web, when and where needed, to reduce costs and take advantage of Internet-delivered resources that provide access to pre-built processes and services, as well as access to platforms delivered as-a-service.

Decouple SOA from cloud computing and you will find that the enterprise is ill-equipped to drive processing into the cloud. By coupling the two, we're attempting to create an architecture where information and processes can be placed inside or outside of the enterprise, as it makes sense, by leveraging computing resources using granular mechanisms such as services. If we pull that off, it will be a beautiful thing.

About David Linthicum
Dave Linthicum is Sr. VP at Cloud Technology Partners, and an internationally known cloud computing and SOA expert. He is a sought-after consultant, speaker, and blogger. In his career, Dave has formed or enhanced many of the ideas behind modern distributed computing including EAI, B2B Application Integration, and SOA, approaches and technologies in wide use today. In addition, he is the Editor-in-Chief of SYS-CON's Virtualization Journal.

For the last 10 years, he has focused on the technology and strategies around cloud computing, including working with several cloud computing startups. His industry experience includes tenure as CTO and CEO of several successful software and cloud computing companies, and upper-level management positions in Fortune 500 companies. In addition, he was an associate professor of computer science for eight years, and continues to lecture at major technical colleges and universities, including University of Virginia and Arizona State University. He keynotes at many leading technology conferences, and has several well-read columns and blogs. Linthicum has authored 10 books, including the ground-breaking "Enterprise Application Integration" and "B2B Application Integration." You can reach him at david@bluemountainlabs.com. Or follow him on Twitter. Or view his profile on LinkedIn.

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