SOA Finding its Way Back Via Cloud
By Marie Lingblom
A quick look around at tech news and trends reveals a mixed bag when it comes to SOA—often thought of as too complex, too demanding. As enterprises and government search for a pathway from legacy to cloud, however, the building block nature of service oriented architecture is making a comeback – even in the military.
Recent government analysis by Frost & Sullivan finds the high costs of operating, securing and maintaining a variety of often redundant legacy stove-piped networks is steering the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) toward mature, commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) technology.
Cloud computing would enable the DoD to share servers, storage devices and applications to save resources and time. Frost & Sullivan suggests the military can maximize the potential of network-centric warfare and enhance collaboration by using commercially successful service oriented architectures to provide software and applications within a private cloud.
Kerrie Holley, IBM Global Services CTO and longtime SOA technologist, recently told InformationWeek it’s clear organizations of all sizes are finding themselves constrained by systems they built 20 years ago, or even three years ago.
The heart of service oriented architecture, said Holley, is that it builds flexibility into what you build so you can begin to treat these systems as LEGO blocks. “So that I can take a piece and it’s not constrained by the fact it was attached to this back-end or attached to this front-end—and I can move it to a new usage without a cost,” he said.
Holley said earlier adoption of service oriented architectures would have avoided the brittle state of a lot of applications built in the 21st century—or the inability for a business to actually leverage an application for future opportunities, whether it’s a new process change or a new market opportunity.
The challenge is still upon us, he said. “But it’s certainly one I’d love to see change, because I think it would free up capital, it would free up resources, and it would allow businesses to spend a lot more time on new things..,” said Holley.
As Cloud blogger David Linthicum puts it, service-oriented architecture (SOA) breaks up existing enterprise assets as sets of logical services that can be formed and/or reformed into business solutions. That provides a foundation to evaluate each service as something that may benefit from new cloud-based platforms and determine the best path for migration.
This approach, he says, will also provide better access to core information and critical services, no matter where they reside. Mature, commercial cloud technologies have been used in many segments of the military because of their benefits of cost savings, faster fielding times and ease of upgrades.
Technologies and services that ensure reliable network security and cloud computing are expected to demonstrate the most rapid military growth.
“Specific cloud programs and contracts will remain rare, but existing programs will continue to be modified to meet the requirement to maximize cloud computing technologies,” said Brad Curran, senior research analyst at Frost & Sullivan. “This will allow them to be applied to the existing networks till 2016, when the cost and operational benefits will become apparent and upgrades and integration will be faster and cheaper.”