Thursday, June 23, 2011

Service Oriented Cloud (SOC)

I am almost shocked by the vast volume of tweets hitting #Cloud. Of course it’s a reflection of the frenetic level of interest in the subject. But it’s also because Cloud Computing is such a huge, complex domain.

Following in the well-trodden path of many new information technology concepts we might expect morphing to occur. Much of the Cloud focus has been about infrastructure and technology, plus commodity applications, productivity tools and multi-tenant Web applications. Whilst all the really good Cloud environments are Service Oriented, it’s very much the minority of consumer SaaS that is today.

Yet it’s very obvious the next stage of Cloud will be about enterprise services. And as private and virtual private Clouds become respectable and trusted, we should expect a huge push by enterprises to demand modernization and rationalization of application landscapes into the Cloud with cost and agility objectives in mind.

But while everyone calls everything a service there’s potential for huge confusion. Further everyone needs to know that right now few existing applications, regardless of how recently they have been “modernized” are Cloud ready. Regardless of private or public Cloud deployments, they need to be genuinely secure, componentized and service enabled and many of them need to be multi-tenant architecture if they are to deliver the expected cost benefits.

To differentiate between the morass of stuff that’s happening and what’s needed in a genuinely Cloud ready SOA environment, I propose we start right now referring to the SERVICE ORIENTED CLOUD or SOC for short. It’s small step, but it will make life easier for everyone, and indeed allow those of us focused on the SOA enabled SaaS layer to have a nomenclature that works, as opposed to continuously committing unintended double entendre.

I recommend we start by hitting #serviceorientedcloud

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Integrating Strategic Planning for Cloud and SOA

In October 2010 Gartner Group assessed that Cloud is at the top of the Hype Curve, the peak point of inflated expectations. But no one really needs this authoritative assessment to confirm an opinion that the industry in general is still in the early stages of Cloud Computing. An even more recent survey reveals that just 7% of organizations have approved cloud strategies and most organizations are now planning to establish strategic plans. So notwithstanding the cautionary reports, most government and commercial enterprises are planning to move rapidly to embrace the profound change inherent in this computing model.

As many organizations embark on strategic planning for Cloud Computing they should be strongly advised to think hard about the scope of their planning activity. What’s becoming very obvious is that we are in the midst of a significant paradigm shift. Cloud Computing is a major change in its own right, but in fact it is essentially only one phase in a much longer running cycle that commenced back around the year 2000 and continues to transition the entire industry from monolithic IT at all levels to service oriented everything.

Whilst Cloud is the “trend de jour”, a study of the leading platform offerings, particularly Amazon, Microsoft and Oracle, shows that Cloud is synonymous with SOA. These leading platforms are all completely service oriented and demonstrate sophisticated, next generation SOA implementations. All the platform capabilities are delivered and consumed as services and whilst the end user may choose to deploy conventionally architected applications, they would be highly suboptimal in terms of cost, portability and business agility.

At this juncture we also need to revisit the question of what is the Cloud. Not surprisingly, like most important trends, the concept is morphing as it matures. In the early stages of Cloud, the emphasis has been heavily focused on cost restructuring particularly in the areas of automation and standardization of technology infrastructure and rationalization and optimization of those resources. The PaaS and SaaS layers have been primarily used for conventional Web and commodity applications such as office productivity and email.

But the next stage of Cloud will be focused on business services and the operation of an ideal service architecture which rationalizes the morass that is the typical enterprise application portfolio. In this process the Cloud based services will align with customer facing business services to form the service oriented enterprise.

One might even wonder if the term Cloud will be relevant in just a few years time? The term is already coming under pressure because Cloud covers such a multitude of architecture concepts. Even the early standards work undertaken by NIST is rapidly dating as for example multi-tenant is no longer a unique identifying characteristic, and as the base models of private, hybrid and public are changing with the evolving with the development of the Virtual Private Cloud.

It seems probable therefore that the industry will go full circle and Cloud will be a primary enabler of the Service Oriented Enterprise, or, heaven forbid SOA 2.0.

This discourse is not wild speculation, IMO it is high probability. As a consequence I recommend that strategic planning for Cloud should be fully integrated with SOA planning. This is particularly the case when strategic ambitions are broader than purely technology infrastructure rationalization.

Further details see my Research Note:
Integrating Strategic Planning for Cloud and SOA

Monday, June 6, 2011

Cloud-SOA Meta Model L1

There's a lot of loose talk about Cloud and SOA. From what I see most SaaS today is not SOA. In fact it's mostly multi-tenanted Web applications with a browser interface. This "may" be satisfactory for SMEs but for larger enterprises this likely to be unacceptable. The primary inhibitor delaying enterprises migrating to the Cloud is less likely to be security than portability. And here enterprises need an architecture driven approach that forms the basis for good governance at all levels.

In retrospect, when we required effective governance for SOA, as an industry we developed rigorous models and profiles that allowed us to establish repeatable structure for deliverable and governance tooling. For Cloud we need to develop those vanilla SOA models to incorporate new classes and relationships. Interestingly, whilst there are some very important modifications to the base SOA model, for the Consumer perspective the differences are quite limited.

I have posted a discussion draft of an L1 Cloud Meta Model. Note this is a Consumer View and is a conceptual level model, based on the CBDI-SAE V3 Meta Model, intended to explore the key concepts and relationships for scoping purposes. Of course each package needs to be extended and or developed. I will be documenting this and providing explanatory materials in an upcoming CBDI Journal article. Meantime you can download the base CBDI-SAE V3 model and specification for definitions.

Be very interested to get feedback.

NB: See earlier posts on this topic.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Industry Cloud models are all very hazy!

I am currently working on extending the CBDI-SAE meta model for Cloud. I started this exercise by making some specific assumptions:
1. I am interested in the larger enterprise perspective; enterprises probably need more knowledge of the underlying capabilities than SMEs if for no other reason than good governance
2. For similar reasons I am exploring primarily the SaaS and PaaS layers because most enterprises will usually outsource the infrastructure, even if its private.
3. And in defining the meta classes for these layers I am interested in supporting an application modernization process and life cycle because, again, that's where most enterprises are at in their Cloud efforts.

In looking at some of the excellent work that has been published already on Cloud, particularly by NIST, I was struck by the Provider centric focus of all the deliverables. I suppose I shouldn't be so surprised because most of the work is being supported by service provider based people. Yet, in context with my assumptions above, I am finding the models not as helpful as they might be. The NIST Reference Architecture is mostly Actor centric, yet the Provider capabilities are expanded, whereas the Consumer, Broker and Auditor are either not expanded at all or at a very superficial level. Well it's all superficial, but nevertheless it presents a very unbalanced picture.

So pretty soon I decided that (at least) my initial model would be a Consumer View - because that's the primary requirement of enterprises. And of course I find a high level of overlap with the SAE model because the Cloud from the Consumer perspective is all about services. But there are some interesting alterations and extensions that I will be detailing in due course.

If anyone is working on meta models in this area I would be very interested to hear from them.