Enterprise Software

SOA and cloud: clearing up the 'foggy' relationship

Dave Linthicum says the most common question he gets nowadays is: "How will our organization move from SOA to cloud computing?" Learn why he says that's just not logical.

This is a guest post from Joe McKendrick of TechRepublic's sister site ZDNet. You can follow Joe on his ZDNet blog Service Oriented, or subscribe to the RSS feed.

In a new article, Dave Linthicum says the most common question he gets nowadays is: "How will our organization move from SOA to cloud computing?"

"That's just not logical," he says.

Why not? Because SOA is an architectural pattern and strategy, while cloud computing is a type of solution:

"Putting this more simply, SOA is all about the process of defining an IT solution or architecture, while cloud computing is an architectural alternative. Thus, SOA can't be replaced by cloud computing. In fact, most cloud computing solutions are going to be defined through SOA. They don't compete - they are complementary notions."

SOA will make many cloud computing arrangements not only technically feasible, but also make it palatable from a business perspective. "The ability to create a successful cloud computing solution means having an information-, service-, and process-level understanding of the problem domain," Dave explains. "Then, break the architecture down into services that are decomposed and normalized, and then define core business processes that leverage those services." Sounds like a job for SOA.

The cloud approach, then, is actually the technology solution that gets applied against the architecture or strategy. Remember, SOA has nothing to do with the technology applied against it. But cloud computing does represent a potent technology solution that is now available to enterprises.

So the question that should be asked is not "How will our organization move from SOA to cloud computing?" but "How can our organization develop a service-oriented approach to a business problem, and is cloud computing the appropriate technology solution for delivering the required services?"

Nice job de-fogging the relationship between SOA and cloud, Dave.

Justin James
Justin James

... that any idea so complex that most people who think it is good don't even know what it is or what it does, is probably one deigned for the scrap heap. J.Ja


For those of us who have taken enterprises from Client/Server and fat client infrastructures to SOA, we aware well aware of the paradigm shift in thinking it places on IT staffs. That being said, I must concur with Mr. James's contention. Cloud computing for most large scale enterprises will never be more than a concept. The concept itself is just too huge a shift from the current views most IT staffs have regaridng process sharing/deployment and networked resource access. Many are still adjusting to and refining their SOA implementations.