Sunday, January 18, 2009

imho SOA 2.0: Outlook Cloudy, But With Scattered Patches of Promise


Ha ha. Yes, this analyst too is not averse to the usual “last wave/next wave” tropes, such as “xx 2.0” or “xx is dead.” So sue me.

Clouds are SOA 2.0. Cloud computing is to a great extent the future of SOA. However, this paradigm raise the SOA stakes while also accentuating the risks.

To the extent that organizations use governance to harness the richness of cloud environments, they will be able to supercharge their SOA initiatives while radically improving scalability and cost-effectiveness. Leveraging distributed cloud platforms, the next-generation SOA will be more fluid, flexible, and virtualized, managing ever more massive data sets and providing the agility to handle more complex mixed workloads of transactional applications, business intelligence, data mining, enterprise service bus, business process management, and other functions.

Clouds complicate the SOA governance picture, but it’s not as if many enterprises already have exemplary governance practices. In the real world, cloud computing, like SOA implementations, is often an ungovernable mess. By encouraging widespread reuse of scattered software components, SOA threatens to transform the enterprise application infrastructure into a sprawling, unmanageable hodgepodge of ad-hoc services. Without proper governance, SOA could allow anyone anywhere to deploy a new cloud service any time they wish, and anyone anywhere to invoke and orchestrate that service--and thousands of others—into ever more convoluted messaging patterns. In a governance-free environment, coordinated cloud service planning and optimization become frustratingly difficult. In addition, rogue cloud services could spring up everywhere and pass themselves off as legitimate nodes, thereby wreaking havoc on the delicate trust that underlies production SOA.

SOA governance is maturing as a discipline, while cloud computing—the new galaxy in which services will burst forth—is anything but. Unfortunately, the cloud arena may continue to evolve so fast over the next several years that it will be difficult for consensus service-governance practices to coalesce. Still, emerging cloud services can benefit from the many lessons learned by enterprise SOA governance implementers. Most important, you need a service catalog that maintains metadata about services and enables you to control development and construction of services and publish visibility and availability of services to consumers. Also, federation agreements should be set up to auto-provision service definitions between public clouds and enterprises’ Web services, REST, and other application environments.

So the outlook for strong service governance in this brave new paradigm remains cloudy, but with scattered patches of promise.