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Business Transformation in Action

Joe McKendrick

Privatizing Clouds, Publicizing SOA

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We've had some very compelling commentary in a couple of ebizQ forums run by my pal Peter Schooff over the past week, and I wanted to surface some of it, since it's incredibly relevant to the future of service orientation. 

First, Peter posted the question: "should a private cloud still be considered a cloud?" Surprisingly, a huge debate erupted, with some industry heavyweights taking opposing sides of the question.

Andrew Smith and Tarak Modi said yes, of course, private clouds are computing clouds. As Tarak elaborated, "Let's not get hung up on names. The end game is to realize the benefits of the cloud business model. Yes, some options might be better at realizing a subset of benefits (such as cost reduction) than others but not all options are suitable for all business requirements."

Taking the opposing view is Miko Matsumura and JP Morgenthal. Miko points out that private clouds operate on a different economic model. "Since private clouds don't leverage the economic properties of public or even hybrid cloud systems, it's simply an appropriation of the concept by vendors and IT departments. Such usage merely obfuscates the economic value of the Cloud."

JP adds that the semantics are important, "to ensure we don't end up calling everything Cloud, which is happening and why we need to qualify Cloud with terms like Private and Public."

Michael Topalovich puts things in perspective: "Are we going to start calling large private networks 'private Internets'? No, there's only one Internet, and there's only one Cloud."

This round of discussion (by the way, readers, feel to join in!) was followed by another a couple of days later, which asked if an SOA-based infrastructure is the same as a "private cloud," since in both cases, services are being delivered on-demand across the enterprise.  Opinions were divided on this question.

Tarak jumped right into this one again, stating that the term "private" should be taken out of the discussion, and that there is "a true symbiotic relationship where SOA fulfills the basic need of the cloud of an application architecture that aligns with and can support its own virtualized, multi-tenant, elastic being."

Scott Morrison agreed, observing that "I think that cloud gives SOA something to do."

Todd Biske said that the relationship between SOA and cloud, while converging, is fuzzy in many ways. "SOA is more concerned with things 'on the cloud' rather than a cloud computing environment,' while private cloud discussions are usually focused on infrastructure environments, which are clearly in the cloud computing environment space."

Randy Heffner added that SOA and cloud "orthogonal concepts," since "I might deploy and run my SOA-based services using a private cloud infrastructure, but there is nothing about building SOA that embodies (or necessitates) a private cloud."


In this blog (formerly known as "SOA in Action"), Joe McKendrick examines how BPM and related business and IT approaches can promote business transformation.

Joe McKendrick

Joe McKendrick is an author and independent analyst who tracks the impact of information technology on management and markets. View more

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