Where SOA Meets Cloud

David Linthicum

Selling SOA/Cloud Part 1

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Many organizations out there don't really have to sell SOA, and thus cloud computing.  They understand that the hype is the driver, and they, in essence, leverage the thousands of articles and books on the topic to sell this architectural pattern.  SOA is easy to sell if everyone else seems to be doing it, and there are plenty of smart people talking about its benefits.  

However, in most cases, SOA has to be sold within the enterprise; it's not a slam-dunk.  Indeed, if you're doing SOA right you'll find that the cost quickly goes well into the millions, thus you'll need executive approval for that kind of acceleration in spending.  But, the benefits are there as well, including the core benefit of agility that could save the company many times the cost of building a SOA.  At least, that's the idea.

Truth-be-told, technical folk are not good at selling the value of a technology, or, in this case, a grouping of technologies, into the enterprise.  They rely on the assumption that everyone sees the benefit without them having to explain it, but that is not always the case.  Moreover, while in many instances the benefit is clear, in more instances it's not.  Also, there is a chance that SOA may not be a fit, and you better figure that out up-front.

So, how do you sell SOA?  Let's look a few key concepts, including:

·       Shining a light on existing limitations

·       Creating the business case

·       Creating the execution plan

·       Delivering the goods

Shining a light on existing limitations refers to the process of admitting how bad things are.  This is difficult to do for most architects, because you're more or less exposing yourself to criticism.  In many instances, you're the person in charge of keeping things working correctly.  Architecture within most Global 2000 companies, however, is in need of fixing.  You can't change the architectures; they are too complex and ill planned. If your architecture has issues, and they all do, now is time to list them.

This is analogous to admitting that you're 20 pounds overweight before going on a diet, or admitting you have a substance abuse problem before taking the famous 12 steps.  In essence, you're defining your issues and thus have a clear understanding of the problems before you attempt to fix them.

As you go through the list of limitations, it's a good idea to also note the impact on the business in both lost productivity and the money that is wasted as a result of that lost productivity.    This will feed into the business case we're doing next.


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This blog is your first step toward understanding the issues you will face as cloud computing and SOA converge. The movement to cloud computing is a disruptive change that IT departments will soon face as SOA and cloud computing begin to have an effect on the modern enterprise. IT managers must learn how to give as well as take information in this new, shareable environment, while still protecting their company's interests. Innovative companies will take advantage of these new resources and reinvent themselves as unstoppable forces in their markets. Those who don't take advantage of this revolution will become quickly outdated, perhaps out of business.

David Linthicum

David Linthicum is the CTO of Blue Mountain Labs, and an internationally known distributed computing and application integration expert. View more

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