What is SOA and how does it relate to cloud computing?
Is cloud computing a big part of your business? If so, perhaps you should consider also incorporating a service-oriented architecture.
Service-oriented architecture, or SOA, is all about creating an IT architecture centered around the services your organization provides. More clearly, SOA is an approach that helps delineate which features will be used to create an application geared toward services that need to communicate via messages.
Once you have SOA in place, it can greatly simplify the process for adding cloud computing to your business model.
If you manage a business that relies on cloud computing then you should seriously consider SOA as it can be quite important to your operations. So, listen up!
Examples of What SOA Does
In true IT geek fashion, I can talk for days about what SOA is and how it can help your organization, but what does service-oriented architecture look like in real life? How does it play out in the warships and battlefields of the corporate world? If you’re a manager or CEO, much of this techy jargon gets lost on you.
Here are several real-world examples that highlight the impact SOA can have:
Targeting new markets
When First Citizens Bank wanted to expand its services to other financial institutions rather than just their customers, they employed an SOA-enabled mainframe operation to get their new offerings up and running – check imaging, check processing, outsourced customer service, etc.
Thomson Reuters, a provider of business intelligence information for businesses and professionals, has its hands full making a stable of 4,000 services available to outside customers. With SOA, they’re able to accomplish this task.
Also, SOA improves speed time to the market, as the CIOs of Wal-Mart, Best Buy and McDonald’s would agree with.
Another bank – this one Whitney National Bank in New Orleans – gained several benefits when they built a successful SOA formula. Benefits included: cost savings, integration and better IT operations.
In the healthcare industry, SOA is critical for helping organization keep up-to-date with countless government mandates and regulation, thus improving healthcare delivery and daily operations.
Protect the planet
Lastly, the United States Air Force has employed service-oriented architecture in a situational awareness system in space. If SOA can help defense the universe, surely it can help improve your business, right?
How SOA Supports Cloud Computing
When a business decides to migrate into the cloud, there are numerous decisions that must be made. However, if that business has already employed SOA, many of these important issues are automatically solved. A benefit of incorporating SOA is that you can have a display of horizontal services that run through your entire organization. It is this horizontal display that comes to mind when businesses contemplate virtualizing their IT environment.
More specifically, once SOA comes into the picture, services that were already built can be recycled, repurposed and redistributed, making them rapidly available throughout the company’s network. How does this apply to cloud computing? SOA’s ability to reuse services means that cloud costs can be kept down as well as made more agile. This, in turn, allows companies the ability to increase their rate of change (scalability).
Additionally, incorporating SOA allows companies the option of deploying a software-as-a-service in their cloud platform. Meanwhile, the cloud pumps out processing power as demanded. This relationship allows for greater flexibility and robustness, providing ample time to meet your operational needs.
SOA lays down a framework that simplifies the management of information technology (IT) systems. SOA employs mechanisms that allows IT systems to work together cohesively within one enterprise cloud platform.
For the strongest cloud computing platform, a business needs interfaces and architectures that are capable of reaching cloud resources. This cannot be achieved by slapping links between cloud resources and core enterprise information systems. That’s where SOA comes in. SOA provides the ability to look at business systems as an entire set of services. When you combine this with the cloud, you also have the ability to extend this to cloud resources as well.
The information stored within the cloud needs structure for documentation and organization within the architecture. In the past, this has critical step has often been overlooked in favor of focusing on “ad-hoc hype-drive” components. However, this aspect of the cloud must be readdressed and one solution is incorporating SOA…
Other Benefits of SOA
While SOA’s main function is to provide structure to the cloud business model, its uses can go so much deeper – including becoming a way to integrate disparate systems. Additionally, SOA can be helpful for:
- Code Reuse. Due to high cohesion and low coupling, SOA services can be used in different systems without the need to put much effort into a rework or bringing in a large team.
- Simple Construction & Maintenance. Time can be saved through SOA by recycling services. Additionally, this means future maintenance and/or errors can be dealt with quickly and efficiently.
- Low Coupling. SOA programs exist as a series of well-defined parts allowing them to operate independently, which helps to keep the cohesion level high.
- Platform Integration. XML messages make it possible to integrate systems across platforms and ease data exchange.
For more information on SOA, read: Service-Oriented Architecture – Definition and Characteristics
As businesses turn to cloud computing, it’s important to have a grasp on the most efficient strategies to make the cloud work for your business (rather than the other way around). If you need assistance wading the waters of SOA or cloud computing, please do reach out.