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Business-Driven Architect

Brenda Michelson

Unintentional Cloud Watching -- Cloud Computing for Enterprise Architects

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Despite my best intentions, I find myself watching the (insert meteorological pun) cloud computing space.  Only time will tell if my cloud watching is attention well spent.  If the cloud is indeed "the future of the Internet", then yes.  If the cloud is merely a repackaging of everything that we already do, then no.  Most likely, the cloud's promise falls somewhere in between, landing closer to the future than the past. 

Added to this (more likely than not) significance, are parallels with my own writings, work and interest areas (current and past), including architecture realization through blending strategies, the power of service grids, the ceding of applications to business capabilities, the morphing of boxes to platforms, and (forthcoming) creating an active information tier.

Since I haven't published blog posts for two of these concepts, let me digress for a moment.

On "the ceding of applications to business capabilities", if you have spent any time in the same room with me during the last 5 years, you've undoubtedly heard or seen some version of the following quote from me:

"By nature, SOA enables an enterprise to compose business services, business events, rules and policies into business processes and interactions that actually match the intent of the business strategists and process owners."

The first iteration (Jan 2005) read like this:

"...SOA will be the springboard that propels IT organizations away from traditional application development toward delivering IT instantiations of business scenarios, or business scenario development.  In business scenario development, IT business solutions will be compositions of services, business events, and business processes matching the interactions of your business--with customers, partners, employees, and regulatory agencies--in the support of commerce, collaboration, and information exchange."

On "the morphing of boxes to platforms", what follows is a slide I created for last summer's ComputerWorld Data Center Directions conference.  I was asked to do a mini-presentation on server management, but as you can see, I started with a broader view of "boxes morphing to platforms" and then spoke of related management implications.


Oh, and while I'm digressing, the service grid excerpt from the introduction to my April 2006 paper on StrikeIron:

"...the intersection of service-oriented architecture (SOA) and software-as-a-service (SaaS)--the service grid model.

In a service grid, hundreds or thousands of services from a multitude of providers are available for enterprise consumption. These services, like all services, may perform a simple task such as information retrieval, or execute a complex business process.

While the service grid model provides a powerful vision for business and IT agility, it is quickly daunted by the complexities of forming and managing a large volume of micro-relationships. For a service grid to thrive, third parties are needed to connect buyers and sellers, manage service levels, meter usage, consolidate bills, and collect and disburse payments."

Despite these obvious parallels, as I was working on my 2009-10 research/writing plans, I knew it wasn't possible to cover everything I'm interested in, so cloud fell into the "interested, but no time" category.  Plus, I figured (rightly) that everyone and their dog would be covering "all things cloud" this year.

Long story, longer...After attending the Open Group's EA conference and Cloud Computing Summit, I realized that as an enterprise architect type, I couldn't (and shouldn't) escape cloud watching.  And since I'm watching, I might as well share what I see.

This said, my cloud watching plan (more or less):

  1. Cloud watch with the lens of an enterprise architect type practicing business-driven architecture.
  2. Share information and observations on selected (#1) cloud computing developments and activities.
  3. Highlight interesting, relevant (#1) works of the cloud computing community -- providers, consumers and consortia.
  4. Add to the conversation, but not engage in "yet another" syndrome. (No "What is Cloud Computing" piece from me)

Oh, and to be clear, this is additive to my plan.  I'm far from done with SOA, event processing, business architecture, enterprise architecture, active information and the business-IT relationship.

If you'd like to chat about cloud computing for enterprise architects, or any of my other coverage areas, leave a comment or drop me an email.  Please, no "story idea enclosed" emails.


I appreciate your architectural approach to our new clouded world. Puns aside, there is a need for more concrete evaluation of cloud computing and less hype. I look forward to your observations.

Doug, thanks for the encouragement. Cutting through the thick hype fog (gratuitous pun) will be a huge challenge. Hopefully, I'll come out the other side with useful insights. -brenda

When applications takes a lead towards exploiting the cloud architecture, then the system engineering discipline will be dragged into the large cloud data centres. The challenges inside such megaliths will be huge for system engineers. Captive data centres will disappear slowly. Cloud enthusiasts like me are waiting for the day to come, when we will be owning even our pc in the cloud.

Brenda Michelson, Principal of Elemental Links, shares her view on architectural strategies, technology trends, business, and relevance.

Brenda Michelson

Brenda Michelson is the principal of Elemental Links an advisory & consulting practice focused on business-technology capabilities that increase business visibility and responsiveness. Follow Brenda on Twitter.


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