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October 8, 2009

Gartner sees SOA as key to cloud business potential

Enterprises need prepare for cloud with more SOA

By CBR Staff Writer

Enterprise IT shops need to continue investing in service-oriented architecture skills and initiatives if they are to be able to take full advantage of the emergence of the cloud infrastructure, a top Gartner analyst has advised.

“Prepare for the cloud by developing SOA skills,” Yefim Natis said, with the analyst group VP suggesting that the arrival of cloud as an option for the delivery of business applications could finally cement SOA into the IT mainstream.

SOA is much more than building web services or deploying an enterprise service bus, and there are all sorts of reasons why companies have not been won over to it as a technical architecture method.

But new tools from the likes of Cordys with its SOA Grid are intended to ease the struggle IT departments can face in building and maintaining a SOA-based enterprise IT architecture, and also helps open up existing business logic and data so they can be made accessible for future cloud services.

IBM also sees a tight link between SOA, and the potential to run at least some services in the cloud. This was one of the reasons behind its move in April to allow businesses to create application environments that can be deployed and managed in a ‘private cloud’ – a cloud that adopts many of the aspects of cloud computing but is still hosted within a firm’s own infrastructure.

The IBM WebSphere CloudBurst Appliance sits as a hardware appliance and provides access to software virtual images and patterns that can be used as is, or customised, and then securely deployed, managed and maintained in a private cloud.

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Talking at a Cordys sponsored event on the potential of cloud computing earlier this week, Natis suggested SOA could eventually become the standard way by which applications are accessed through a cloud service. 

Natis said also that, as well as accessing private clouds and public clouds, enterprises will start to consider the use of so-called virtual private clouds that have some of the characteristics of a public cloud in that they would be supplied by third-party data centre providers, but where use was restricted to divisions of the business who each act as independent tenants.

Similarly, we could expect to see an industry consortium or government body adopt community clouds.

These would be larger than private, but smaller than public clouds, and where data centre resources are shared by all members, with responsibility for security, privacy and capacity management shared among community members. 

The benefit of both arrangements is that it offers some elasticity, very good resource utilisation and effectively lowers the cost of doing business.

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