SOA Strategy and the Cloud: BaaS.
The professionals dedicated to system integration and promote the SOA Strategy as the best solution for an interconnected world, observe with some frustration how new paradigms arise that catch the attention of the whole world, although they share the majority, if not all, the benefits and principles of Service Orientation. No doubt the first place in this list is occupied by the Cloud, whose success is global and undoubted.
SOA has traveled a difficult road from its origins to today. Both in terms of its own definition and its success cases, which are neither abundant, nor manage to get all the strategy benefits.
In this sense, it is very interesting to read what some experts recommend if you want to be successful in implementing SOA. I would emphasize this advice, according to my experience: “haste makes waste”. An idea certainly difficult to implement in a world where short-termism and immediate success often guide decisions.
As we said, other trends burst and become fashionable in the industry quickly. But if you look at its principles and the advantages they offer, we will find many coincidences.
The Cloud and SOA.
What is the Cloud?. We could stay with the formal definitions that circulate through the network: in short, the idea is to provide ICT services remotely and custom-made. But I would like us to look at certain details a step behind the concept, which may be familiar.
We have three types of clouds:
1. Software: being able to access applications and, therefore, everything that we offer through our web browser, is very convenient for users and economical for companies. This is what the industry has called “Software as a Service”: SaaS.
2. Environments: being able to develop software using remote environments that we do not have to mount or maintain, is also a very interesting option to lower costs in ICT projects. This outsourcing of environments and platforms is what has been called “Platform as a Service”: PaaS.
3. Infrastructure: The costs of data storage infrastructures, Data Centers, can be very high, and especially complex is the escalation as demand varies in a short time. However, using the services of a third party that is responsible for offering us (and billing) only what we need at any time, is an interesting option. This variant is what the industry calls “Infrastructure as a Service”: IaaS.
The three variants, and in general where you want to talk about the Cloud and its advantages, bring several obvious advances:
– Scalability. Having applications, environments or information in the cloud allows you to always have what is needed, increasing and decreasing as needed. This flexibility allows you to adapt quickly to your business needs.
– Abstraction. What is the application I’m using? What physical servers am I using? What operating system is below? The Cloud abstracts me from all unnecessary detail. I just need the service I hired to work. Anyone wondering what physical specifications have the servers where Google mounts your Google Drive service? Or Amazon? Or Apple ?.
– Reuse. Until a few years ago, when you wanted to have a spreadsheet on different devices you had to copy it physically from one to another. And if they were incompatible systems, you had to re-create the sheet, and keep both versions. With the Cloud, thanks to its ability to automatically synchronize remotely, you have your work on any device, whenever you want.
– Costs Saving. All the costs traditionally associated with the corresponding network services, environments and application, are reduced drastically by fully adapting to the needs of each moment, and in many cases disappear.
All these advantages, and some more, lie in the DNA of the SOA strategy.
What’s more, many of the illustrations you can find about SOA, where multiple devices of different type, manufacturer and use, connect to an SOA infrastructure with an ESB, could be easily moved to a typical Cloud illustration. It would simply be enough to replace all that infrastructure with a cloud.
In fact the very idea of calling this whole invention “cloud”, and representing it as such, comes from the graphical representation that in a network diagram is used to represent the part of the external network to the organization, whose topology and components do not interest to detail.
SOA and the Cloud are not that far away. Sometimes I would even say that the Cloud is, at bottom, the same as SOA, but well sold. Certainly their uses have opened much more than the business world, directly reaching the user on foot through storage services, web applications, etc.
Learning from the Cloud: Baas.
Personally, I do not see why we can not extend the principles of SOA as an ICT strategy well beyond business. Without going any further, the Internet of Things (IoT), has enormous potential to benefit from its advantages.
But staying in the world of enterprise and public agencies, we can learn from what the paradigm of cloud computing has taught us.
The Cloud can add to SOA as a business ICT strategy a new front to offer all its advantages, simply hiding its internal detail and boosting even more if it is possible to reuse the services it publishes in a certain business sector.
What I propose is a fourth variant in the Cloud called “Business as a Service (BaaS)”. An idea that is worth ripening and about which I will return later in future articles.
Certainly the challenges in information security would be great, but they are already that much in SOA as in the Cloud as it works today. Why not raise the bar a little more?.
Health as a service.
Justice as a service.
Education as a service.
Home as a service.
Smartcity as a service.
Need to continue ?.
I do not see it at all outlandish. Does it seem complex? Of course it is. But it is also enormously profitable and its transformative potential for the quality of services that citizens receive is enormous.
Let’s not forget that in a given industry or sector, business processes are what they are, and there are only certain variations between some implementations and others. And these variants can be solved with the same Services Catalog, or in any case, they would enrich it.