SOA as the Foundational Architecture of the Cloud

August 22, 2011

With all of the talk of cloud and cloud-based services, and many new contributors to the conversation, there has been some discourse about Service-oriented Architecture (SOA) and its role in the new cloud-enabled social and mobile world.

By Pierre Fricke, director of product line management in the middleware business, Red Hat

For Red Hat, SOA is not a marketing concept or a fad, as some have stated – it is an approach to building applications and services that prepares enterprises for an even more distributed world – cloud, mobile, and social – by integrating applications and services so they are running more efficiently and delivering higher value to the business.

Today, we deliver applications into the cloud as “services.” Mobile computing (e.g., smartphone) users access “services” when they check bank balances or place an order. Social applications such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+ are delivered as “services.” Underneath many of these applications are SOA deployments – hence the name: “service”-oriented architecture. SOA deployments can save enterprises significant cost of coding and time to solution by easing integration of applications and services with business and customer solutions. SOA has helped enterprises use or integrate new capabilities without spending all of their time rewriting and testing code, as was the norm in the 1970s and 80s. At that time, any change required a re-write and testing of the code. Do we really want to revert to the 1970s and 80s?

Focus has been on the application development tool chain for cloud-based applications, which is improving application development, deployment and management productivity -- but this is not the end of the road. IT’s role in business is not to produce and run applications -- IT’s role is to help the business and its processes execute more productively. Once one has all of these applications in the cloud, then what? How does one integrate them into the business to help IT deliver its value and mission?

This is exactly why we believe SOA is so critical to the cloud. Applications are “services” within an SOA, and once this service fabric is defined, developed and deployed, SOA makes it easier to integrate these services into useful business process flows. These business process flows must access and integrate data, applications, services, business rules, and other processes to deliver value to the business and its customers, partners and stakeholders.

An impressive amount of SOA deployment and development is present in the market today. IDC estimated that spending on SOA (infrastructure, application development and deployment, applications) would be up to many billions of dollars by 2011, and between 2008 and 2013 spending would increase by 24.7% in the Americas and 24% in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. (Source: Worldwide SOA-Driven Software 2009 – 2013 Forecast , Stephen Hendrick, August 2009 Doc #219327.) Driving this revenue and market growth are the many enterprise software application and platform services available today.

At Red Hat, we understand that the end game for customers isn’t a bunch of stove-piped applications running in the cloud. The end game is building an intelligent, integrated enterprise and value chain that leverages cloud resources to reach mobile and social audiences with high quality products and services. The “SOA was a fad” contingent are more likely to leave customers with an array of stove-piped applications to manually integrate, or a bunch of tightly coupled applications that cannot respond to constant change. We believe there is a better way with SOA and loosely coupled services, data and applications that enable IT to respond to an ever-changing world.

For more information on how SOA can streamline integration of applications in the cloud, please watch our “Applications in the Cloud? Now How Do I Integrate Them Into My Business?” replay at https://engage.redhat.com/forms/20110616ApplicationsinthCloud.

To learn how Red Hat customers implemented SOA to achieve their business objectives, visit this page for a full list of SOA success stories. Watch a replay of a webinar featuring customer Emirates Group at https://engage.redhat.com/forms/20110728CarvingCosts.

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