How SOA Can Help with On-Premise/Cloud Integration

Loraine Lawson

Cloud computing is, like, this big thing now. And obviously, I write about the integration challenges quite a lot on this blog, because it's, like, this big thing now. And also, it gives me a break from writing about service-oriented architecture.


But worlds are colliding, it seems, because, according to David Linthicum, a lot of people are confusing SOA with cloud computing and that's one of three things wrong with SOA, sort of:

Those in the SOA world are suddenly in cloud computing. Why? They desire to remain relevant and to jump on the cloud computing bandwagon. However, this is hurting more so than helping. SOA is something you do, a pattern of architecture. Cloud computing is merely a set of architectural options. Not sure most SOA vendors get that, and clearly cloud computing is something else wrong with SOA, but also something else right with SOA. Depends on who you're working with.

Of course, it's not just the vendors who are crossing over to the cloud. It's people like Linthicum, who now writes and talks about the cloud at least as much as he does about SOA - and, well, me, because I actually try to write about it more than SOA.


I know what you're thinking: This is all about following the hype and the latest market trends. I see you sitting there, all cynical, snorting that of course we're abandoning SOA-all the money's gone to the cloud. I know how cynical people think, because I'm pretty darn cynical myself. It's a requirement for Journalism 101.


But, in this case, it's a tad unfair, because while the cloud and SOA are not the same thing at all, there are connections between the two. And one of those connections, it turns out, is integration.


Adrian Grigoriu, chief architect of the TM Forum, looks at how SOA can help solve integration between on-premise systems and cloud systems recently on eBizQ's "Enterprise Architecture Matters" blog.


Actually, Grigoriu outlines all the options for handling this problem, including:

  • A virtual cloud that connects through a secure VPN.
  • Companies that offer specialized cloud integration.
  • Traditional systems integrators.
  • The cloud-based company (assuming the company offers packaged integration).


How does SOA play into this? Grigoriu explains that integration becomes much simper, "almost transparent" if your on-premise applications are built using SOA or, at least, Web services:

A SOA service should hide both the technology and the location of the service and offers access solely through an interface reducing the integration crisscross. That is why a SOA design becomes best practice before Cloud adoption.

So, do you need SOA before you move into the cloud? No, not really, particularly if you're only dealing with one application. But Grigoriu does suggest you consider SOA first if you'll be integrating multiple cloud and on-premise applications, cautioning that "a clean SOA architecture simply eliminates the internal integration fur-ball spreading in the Clouds."


Grigoriu writes with a concise, nearly blunt style. It'll take you less than a minute to read, so it's worth your time, particularly since he also identifies other best practices for simplifying integration with the cloud.

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