Thursday, March 5, 2009

Cloud Computing through the lens of SOA

Cloud computing is a style of computing that defines the way IT functions are going to be delivered or acquired in the future. This can essentially be contributed due to the emergence of revolutionary technologies such as Virtualization, Service oriented Architecture and the Web.

I will attempt to explain the influence of these technologies on the formation of the "Cloud".Let me do this by first highlighting some key attributes that basically characterizes the “Cloud”. Followed by, describing how these emerging technologies meet to address them.

ABC's of the “Cloud”:
Adapt: Being scalable and elastic to meet fluctuating resource demands
Black-Boxed: Delivery of capabilities “as a service”
Focus is on the Results and Not on Components
Delivery Service Levels are Critical
Commune: Anyone Anywhere Anytime access
The amalgamation of Virtualization, Service oriented Architectures based on open standards along with the pervasive nature of the Internet has made IT services generally available at global scales. Now let’s look at how these technologies principally function to meet the ABC’s of the cloud:

Virtualization technologies such as Hyper-V, VMware, Citrix have de-coupled software from the hardware making it possible to run multiple software instances on a single hardware. The technology allows IT administrators to seamlessly Ramp up/down computational capabilities such as processor, storage, RAM in a matter of hours or even minutes. Virtualization has enabled efficient use of shared resources along with the de-coupling increasing the economies of scale of computing.

"Functionality being delivered through a platform independent contract" is the key design principle behind service oriented application. This makes service consumers consume information by being de-coupled from the technical implementation of the provider and focus only on the results. Also being self contained, services can be designed or managed at a unit level hence allowing for more granular control of service levels.

The global pervasiveness and the open standards of the Internet have made this technology as the de-facto mode of delivering IT-services on the public cloud. Although one may also argue that in case of private clouds, say within an enterprise, the use of private networks may enable cloud-style environments delivery capabilities without ever using Internet technologies. However from a universal accessibility stand-point the access over such channels may be confined to that within the enterprise boundaries limiting the openness otherwise observed on the cloud.

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