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SOA & Cloud Computing: New & Unique or Continuation of the Same Old Stuff?

SOA & Cloud Computing: New & Unique or Continuation of the Same Old Stuff?

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This discussion is based on JP Morgenthal's feature article right here, and the question, which seems to cause quite a bit of disagreement between the old and new schools of IT, is: SOA & Cloud Computing: New & Unique or Continuation of the Same Old Stuff?

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  • I guess I'd have to put myself in the "Gray Hairs" camp. To me SOA and Cloud Computing are natural extensions to a maturity cycle that started with the Athena project. Each maturity cycle leveraged advances in the platforms to handle the needs of distributed applications to add simplicity to the consumer of those services.

  • SOA is already in the maturity cycle. Cloud computing is a new wave it will take some time to be adapted in the enterprise.

  • I agree with JP. SOA is architecture, cloud computing is just an instance of an architecture. Albeit there are some great stuff in there, and it will be a focus going forward, we’ll still have to do SOA.

  • Well, SOA as an integration technology in the depths is dead (because SOA is not technology and is not about integration). So, it looks like there is nothing to get onto next maturity cycle. However, when SOA finally settle as business-oriented organisational and executable methodology, it will enter into IT again but from the door at the top. If somebody considers this a new maturity cycle, I do not mind.

    As of Cloud Computing, it definitely needs several maturity cycles before business would be able to seriously consider it as IT model, IMO (examples cannot proof a theory but can only destroy one). That is, I hesitate to nominate CC as the Next Phase in IT. To me, it rather looks like Next Next phase (if it eventually learn how to address business risks).

  • This one to me is like "web 2.0".

    I see technology adoption as being like a herd. Every now and again, a new term comes by whose function it is to seperate parts of the herd from the other parts.

    In the "web 2.0" phenomenon, a bunch of ideas came together that were already implicit in "web". But trendy people were able to successfully segment themselves from the older concepts.

    It's a natural social phenomenon that can be observed at any middle school, it's basically human social behavior with regards to fashion.

    Now by using a term like fashion I'm hardly derogating either technology or fashion--Steve Jobs did a great job demonstrating the convergence of the fashion cycle with the technology cycle--and that human behavior around preference, social identity and tribalism are increasingly relevant not just for product selection in the Enterprise, but to software in general.

    So for those "in the know" SOA continues to be an inevitable conclusion to Enterprise architectural renewal, and Cloud computing is another part of the complete story...

  • The real problem is as the Newbies and the Gray Hairs fight over the technologies, the business suffers. I am closer to being a Gray Hair but my views typically fall somewhere in the middle of these two groups. I prefer to focus on business need and if SOA and/or Cloud Computing will help the business meet their goals, I will move forward regardless of what these two groups think. The problem with IT is we spend too much time arguing about the technology and semantics and spend too little time delivering business value.

  • Today's Gray Hairs were yesterday's Newbies. Cloud computing can be bundled with "Web 2.0" thinking, which seeks ways to get around the "established order" with faster and more lightweight solutions. This mirrors the spirit of the 1980s, when PCs were brought into organizations so users wouldn't have to rely on IT (or go begging for budget dollars from the C-level) for certain project work. We saw the same thing happen with the Internet in the 1990s, as well as mobile computing. Also remember the Young Turks that came up with Web services at the end of the 1990s to challenge the existing EAI orthodoxy. Chalk it up to a proud, continuing tradition of "youthful rebelliousness."

  • Mike called it the herd principle, I typically refer to it as the "shiny gold watch" that we all fixate on as each new term or trend makes an appearance.

    I'm definitely part of the Gray Hair brigade and to me the cloud and SOA are certainly important, but clearly evolutionary from my way of thinking. Delivering business value is what has to come first. Arguing semantics and technology need to be secondary.

  • I'm not quite sure where I fit in this spectrum but I am a little jaded by the hype roller-coasters. If you talk, listen or read about any of the folks that drove innovation in IT they all say the same thing; if they knew what they know now they would have never attempted to change the world. While the Gray hairs understand all the pitfalls and can poke holes in anything, I believe there would be more value in them channeling the Newbies energy by better understanding where they are coming from. Easier said than done, but personally I spend a fair bit of time right now living in Web 2.0 trying to figure out how it is going to change the way enterprises operate in future.

    When it comes to looking at new hype such as Cloud and SOA I definitely view these shifts as evolutionary, advancements are usually some new ideas on top of an existing base of ideas. I don't think the Cloud hype would have taken the form it has if it wasn't for SOA; it's an evolution from how to we build componentized applications to how we deploy them.


    Ross Mason

  • Why are we tring to compare an infrastructure operating model to a software integration / composition / governance model?

    It is true that services (and thus SOA) will have a higher degree of succes of you have an efficient infrastructure model in place, cloud or otherwise.

    The isses with SOA were simple: it required some people to do more work (create services) so that other people could benefit (service consumers). This fails in poorly run I.T. shops (many) where selfish behavior is rewarded.

    Cloud computing is a simple operating model that benefits everyone in the chain: procurement, provision, infrastructure mgmt., application architecture, etc. It doesn't suffer from the same Karl Marx-ish principles.
    Back on caffeine,

    I'm of the opinion that the constant Cloud/SOA comparison is a red herring.

  • The future risk of the cloud is the current risk of SOA. I agree with the above statements about the hype factor of cloud computing, however there's still one more challenge that both strategies will share -- dependency. In SOA engagements, we encouraged the importance of good architecture and governance, but often it was just too easy for companies to hook up a couple web services to a legacy system for a quick ROI.

    Dependency didn't rear its ugly head in SOA until the services started to be used by multiple customers, each with their own needs, and then those services were connected with the services of business partners, and used in a variety of unintended ways. A lack of access to dependent services and systems throughout the development lifecycle created a constraint on the agility we expected from SOA.

    Similarly, the true cost and complexity of using cloud-based solutions will become evident only at the point when companies rely on them for critical needs. The low cost of entry of the Cloud's easy provisioning and pay-as-you-use can end up costing more than expected once the solution reaches business volume. If I pay-per-use for a cloud-based solution, I am establishing recurring costs, and increasing dependencies in my testing, development and release of new functionality that need to be addressed.

    Hopefully this shared concern of dependency will encourage enterprises not to sacrifice good architecture, governance, and virtualization practices for short term ROI gains. We see many companies getting past the hype of SOA to generate real value today by applying the approach with more discipline, and many of the same lessons will apply to cloud computing.

  • The real answer is that SOA and Cloud Computing are both new and unique and a continuation of the same old stuff. I would argue that both are effective packaging of best practices and technological innovations that are a necessary branding needed to create interest. There were architectures built on services and loose coupling long before anyone coined the term SOA, but it took the articulation of these and other ideas together in a coherent manner to capture the interest of the business (and some of the geeks as well).

    Cloud is no different. Right now, we’re still defining what’s in and what’s out. There’s a lot of eye rolling and arguments that we’ve done that already. And truthfully, we probably have (who here doesn’t use a cornerstone cloud technology like virtualization on daily basis, or use services like salesforce?). Like SOA, the whole of cloud is greater than the sum of its parts. This brand will be over hyped, but it does provide a common reference around which to build actual solutions. Unlike SOA, cloud includes an irresistible economic argument that shifts the dialog to other parts of the business.

    So it’s really more of a case of something old, something new…

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