Delivering Strong Services: from SOA to the Cloud
Daryl Pereira 270002AW8D firstname.lastname@example.org | | Tags:  soa impact09 business rules cloud computing
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Daryl Plummer from Gartner delivered another formidable speech in a lively, fast-paced presentation on cloud computing at IBM Impact. Daryl does a great job of explaining these concepts to those (who like me) are new to this area.
He laid his position out clearly to get things going: He is a strong advocate of SOA and by extension, cloud computing.
Why is the time now right for cloud computing? Three things drive cloud computing to make it such a valuable proposition at this time:
Although one thing Daryl points out is that it doesn't make sense to talk about being/working 'in the cloud'. The cloud is a euphamism for an abstraction: only cloud services exist.
How much of their services should businesses move into the cloud? Not everything needs to be in the cloud; we'll probably have hybrid systems. IT departments will need to make choices about what stays in the current infrastructure and what goes in the cloud. For instance, because of regulations around holding personal data of customers, you may want to keep this within the local domain. However, when it comes to collaborative services (and even e-mail), it makes good sense to move into the cloud.
What cloud computing means
The cloud is tied up with the idea of a service; i.e. something that someone else does for you. Daryl uses the analogy of a wall socket delivering electricity, as it's a service we access when needed (we plug something in). In the cloud/service context, you tell the service what you need to plug in and how much it will cost.
Also, you only pay for what you use (it's scalable and elastic). A cloud resource is a shared resource, so what you are not using is free for others to adopt. The use is metered so you only pay for what you need. This is different to the concept that you have to go out and buy the number of servers needed to cope with maximum capacity, even though there may be periods where they lay dormant.
Daryl expounds on this note, saying that this changes the relationship we have with IT infrastructure, platforms and software. The move is away from a vendor/user relationship to a provider/consumer relationship. Many more contracts are made, as you buy services as services, not as technologies.
In order to implement all this, you need SOA, whether it be local SOA services or outsourced SOA services. Why? Because the characteristics of SOA dovetail so neatly with a cloud environment. For instance, SOA is modular, distributable, discoverable and scalable.
At the enterprise level you need to decide between using services from the private cloud (e.g. the offerings of major vendors like IBM) or the public cloud (Daryl uses the example of Gmail).
The major applications of cloud computing are:
One thing you need to bear in mind is whether you are going to be a consumer, a provider or a broker (ie. interface between a consumer and provider) of cloud services. Large corporations may find themselves having each of these roles.
In this whirlwind presentation, Daryl definitely put forward a strong case for cloud computing and the disruptive era it is ushering in.
For more from Daryl Plummer, See his presentation from the Dialog user conference.