Making Money via the Cloud: If Vendors Can Do It, So Can You


InfoWorld took a look at the SOA-cloud connection this week, querying representatives from some major tech players, including Microsoft, SUN, HP and IBM.


The big take-away here seems to be that using a service-oriented approach to architecture will make it easier for you to:


  1. Sell your services via the cloud.
  2. Connect to services via the cloud.
  3. Integrate your legacy systems with cloud applications.


No. Duh.


I mean, what is the cloud if not a collection of services offered via Web protocols?


Seriously, I'm asking. I'd like to know.


Heck, if you add REST to the mix and you're back to WOA, web-oriented architecture, which Nick Gall defined as:



Remember that? You thought it was a bunch of three-letter acronym BS, didn't you? But when you think about the cloud, all the three-letter acronyms start to come together to spell real business potential.


Big vendors are certainly onto it. There's no doubt that 2009 will be the Year of Hyping the Cloud.


David Linthicum, who's attending IBM's Pulse 2009 this week, observed there's already a collapse of SOA and the cloud:

"This week IBM dove deeper into the cloud computing space, reorganizing and promoting their people around the concepts of cloud computing. However, they are doing so by simply redefining stuff they sell. They're not the only ones. I'm seeing a huge amount of search and replace operations on Web sites, where finding 'SOA' now says 'cloud computing.' Can you say 'confusion'?"

Yes I can, Dave, yes I can. It becomes less confusing, of course, if you just follow the money. In fact, it becomes down-right enlightening. I'm not being cynical - stick with me.


As usual, the vendors are a step ahead-just where they want to be. In addition to Linthicum's comments, I found this piece on IBM's announcements at Pulse 2009. It doesn't mention the cloud specifically, but it's all about how IBM will help you integrate the physical and digital worlds. As far as I can figure, that's either going to be the cloud or virtualization.

Sun is already laying claim to a chunk of the cloud market by announcing that it will announce its plans for entering the cloud on March 18. No, I didn't accidentially type announcing too many times. That's actually what Sun did: Announced plans to announce their real plans a month from now. Everybody mark your calendar.


And Microsoft, for all practical marketing purposes, skipped SOA and went straight to the cloud.


I know-you're probably frustrated, because vendors always switch the target just as you're catching on. I felt the same way about Weight Watchers-just as I was grasping the concepts of one plan, they'd switch everything up and I've to buy all new recipe books. You're not alone, as Linthicum learned during a lunch with other attendees:

"My informal lunch table survey of Pulse attendees reveals that cloud computing is interesting and they are looking at it. SOA is still a focus, but budgets are causing many delays. Most are leading with technology and not architecture, but they are less enamored with the hype around the technology. Most view SOA as a long-term strategic direction."

That strikes me as a very smart approach, actually. Of course, it will help them consume services offered by the big vendors. Yippee. But the really cool thing is, when the cloud takes off, they'll be positioned to sell their own services via the Web.


Actually, that's what I think is really worthwhile here for businesses and IT. If you're internally service-enabling your IT systems, then you'll be able to turn around and deploy those services via the cloud. You don't have to just be a consumer-you can be a supplier of services.


Sit with that a moment.


The simplest, most obvious use is to connect or integrate with business partners-whether that's suppliers or resellers. But if you're really willing to think big, this could potentially be the key to moving IT from a cost center to a profit center. For instance, you could use this model to build on-the-fly, web-enabled applications which you can then sell to customers, helping them to sell your products. VetSource did it.


Why not you?