Friday, January 9, 2009

Cloud Oriented Infrastructure

Lots of discussion this week from a post by Anne Thomas Manes, in her post she declared that Service Oriented Architectures (SOA) had failed, and more to the point, SOA was dead. Manes went on to say that "SOA met its demise on January 1, 2009, when it was wiped out by the catastrophic impact of the economic recession. SOA is survived by its offspring: mashups, BPM, SaaS, Cloud Computing, and all other architectural approaches that depend on services."

I think Anne is missing the point and quite possibly living in some kind of parallel universe. I wouldn't say SOA is dead, but rather has become ubiquitous. One can define a service-oriented architecture (SOA) as a group of services / applications that communicate with each other. The process of communication involves either simple data-passing or two or more services coordinating some activity. Intercommunication implies the need for some means of connecting services to each other. Most modern Internet enabled applications at this point have some sort of web services component. Even basic http / https at this point could be consider a web services. What SOA has done a great job of is bringing the core ideas found within Service-orientation to the broader technology industry. The goals of loose coupling of web enabled services with operating systems, programming languages and other technologies which underlie applications have become a mainstream concept. If by dead, she means not used, then she is way off base.

In the near term the bigger opportunity may be in the area of cloud infrastructure enablement. That is taking existing data center infrastructure, or what some are referring to as a hybrid data center and making them internet aware. The first steps toward this cloud infrastructure have already been set in motion with the work being done in so-called, Service Oriented Infrastructures (SOI), which may also be described as virtualised IT Infrastructure comprised of components that are managed in an industrialised / automated way. (Think the model-t assembly line applied to your data center and it applications)

The next generation of service oriented Infrastructures will soon start to look more like what I have started calling "Cloud Oriented Infrastructures". These are infrastructures that can adapt to capacity demands and constraints using the same web services building blocks that have made both SOA and SOI so popular with in modern enterprise IT environments. The bigger opportunity for Cloud Oriented Infrastructures will be in applying the flexibly of an ever changing and adaptive approach to computing capacity management. In the same way that cloud computing has given applications the ability to adapt, we now have the ability to allow our underlying infrastructures to autonomously adapt using a mixture of local and remote (cloud) infrastructure.

Looking ahead, I think you will start see cloud aware infrstructure deployments and related tools start to be much more commonly used. What is interesting is building a private compute cloud may soon start to more about augmenting your data center, rather then replacing what you already have in place. I for one will be looking at those who look to improve what I have rather then trying to convince me to reinvent it.

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