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Beyond Big Data

By Chris Harding, The Open Group

The big bang that started The Open Group Conference in Newport Beach was, appropriately, a presentation related to astronomy. Chris Gerty gave a keynote on Big Data at NASA, where he is Deputy Program Manager of the Open Innovation Program. He told us how visualizing deep space and its celestial bodies created understanding and enabled new discoveries. Everyone who attended felt inspired to explore the universe of Big Data during the rest of the conference. And that exploration – as is often the case with successful space missions – left us wondering what lies beyond.

The Big Data Conference Plenary

The second presentation on that Monday morning brought us down from the stars to the nuts and bolts of engineering. Mechanical devices require regular maintenance to keep functioning. Processing the mass of data generated during their operation can improve safety and cut costs. For example, airlines can overhaul aircraft engines when it needs doing, rather than on a fixed schedule that has to be frequent enough to prevent damage under most conditions, but might still fail to anticipate failure in unusual circumstances. David Potter and Ron Schuldt lead two of The Open Group initiatives, Quantum Lifecycle management (QLM) and the Universal Data Element Framework (UDEF). They explained how a semantic approach to product lifecycle management can facilitate the big-data processing needed to achieve this aim.

Chris Gerty was then joined by Andras Szakal, vice-president and chief technology officer at IBM US Federal IMT, Robert Weisman, chief executive officer of Build The Vision, and Jim Hietala, vice-president of Security at The Open Group, in a panel session on Big Data that was moderated by Dana Gardner of Interarbor Solutions. As always, Dana facilitated a fascinating discussion. Key points made by the panelists included: the trend to monetize data; the need to ensure veracity and usefulness; the need for security and privacy; the expectation that data warehouse technology will exist and evolve in parallel with map/reduce “on-the-fly” analysis; the importance of meaningful presentation of the data; integration with cloud and mobile technology; and the new ways in which Big Data can be used to deliver business value.

More on Big Data

In the afternoons of Monday and Tuesday, and on most of Wednesday, the conference split into streams. These have presentations that are more technical than the plenary, going deeper into their subjects. It’s a pity that you can’t be in all the streams at once. (At one point I couldn’t be in any of them, as there was an important side meeting to discuss the UDEF, which is in one of the areas that I support as forum director). Fortunately, there were a few great stream presentations that I did manage to get to.

On the Monday afternoon, Tom Plunkett and Janet Mostow of Oracle presented a reference architecture that combined Hadoop and NoSQL with traditional RDBMS, streaming, and complex event processing, to enable Big Data analysis. One application that they described was to trace the relations between particular genes and cancer. This could have big benefits in disease prediction and treatment. Another was to predict the movements of protesters at a demonstration through analysis of communications on social media. The police could then concentrate their forces in the right place at the right time.

Jason Bloomberg, president of Zapthink – now part of Dovel – is always thought-provoking. His presentation featured the need for governance vitality to cope with ever changing tools to handle Big Data of ever increasing size, “crowdsourcing” to channel the efforts of many people into solving a problem, and business transformation that is continuous rather than a one-time step from “as is” to “to be.”

Later in the week, I moderated a discussion on Architecting for Big Data in the Cloud. We had a well-balanced panel made up of TJ Virdi of Boeing, Mark Skilton of Capgemini and Tom Plunkett of Oracle. They made some excellent points. Big Data analysis provides business value by enabling better understanding, leading to better decisions. The analysis is often an iterative process, with new questions emerging as answers are found. There is no single application that does this analysis and provides the visualization needed for understanding, but there are a number of products that can be used to assist. The role of the data scientist in formulating the questions and configuring the visualization is critical. Reference models for the technology are emerging but there are as yet no commonly-accepted standards.

The New Enterprise Platform

Jogging is a great way of taking exercise at conferences, and I was able to go for a run most mornings before the meetings started at Newport Beach. Pacific Coast Highway isn’t the most interesting of tracks, but on Tuesday morning I was soon up in Castaways Park, pleasantly jogging through the carefully-nurtured natural coastal vegetation, with views over the ocean and its margin of high-priced homes, slipways, and yachts. I reflected as I ran that we had heard some interesting things about Big Data, but it is now an established topic. There must be something new coming over the horizon.

The answer to what this might be was suggested in the first presentation of that day’s plenary, Mary Ann Mezzapelle, security strategist for HP Enterprise Services, talked about the need to get security right for Big Data and the Cloud. But her scope was actually wider. She spoke of the need to secure the “third platform” – the term coined by IDC to describe the convergence of social, cloud and mobile computing with Big Data.

Securing Big Data

Mary Ann’s keynote was not about the third platform itself, but about what should be done to protect it. The new platform brings with it a new set of security threats, and the increasing scale of operation makes it increasingly important to get the security right. Mary Ann presented a thoughtful analysis founded on a risk-based approach.

She was followed by Adrian Lane, chief technology officer at Securosis, who pointed out that Big Data processing using NoSQL has a different architecture from traditional relational data processing, and requires different security solutions. This does not necessarily mean new techniques; existing techniques can be used in new ways. For example, Kerberos may be used to secure inter-node communications in map/reduce processing. Adrian’s presentation completed the Tuesday plenary sessions.

Service Oriented Architecture

The streams continued after the plenary. I went to the Distributed Services Architecture stream, which focused on SOA.

Bill Poole, enterprise architect at JourneyOne in Australia, described how to use the graphical architecture modeling language ArchiMate® to model service-oriented architectures. He illustrated this using a case study of a global mining organization that wanted to consolidate its two existing bespoke inventory management applications into a single commercial off-the-shelf application. It’s amazing how a real-world case study can make a topic come to life, and the audience certainly responded warmly to Bill’s excellent presentation.

Ali Arsanjani, chief technology officer for Business Performance and Service Optimization, and Heather Kreger, chief technology officer for International Standards, both at IBM, described the range of SOA standards published by The Open Group and available for use by enterprise architects. Ali was one of the brains that developed the SOA Reference Architecture, and Heather is a key player in international standards activities for SOA, where she has helped The Open Group’s Service Integration Maturity Model and SOA Governance Framework to become international standards, and is working on an international standard SOA reference architecture.

Cloud Computing

To start Wednesday’s Cloud Computing streams, TJ Virdi, senior enterprise architect at The Boeing Company, discussed use of TOGAF® to develop an Enterprise Architecture for a Cloud ecosystem. A large enterprise such as Boeing may use many Cloud service providers, enabling collaboration between corporate departments, partners, and regulators in a complex ecosystem. Architecting for this is a major challenge, and The Open Group’s TOGAF for Cloud Ecosystems project is working to provide guidance.

Stuart Boardman of KPN gave a different perspective on Cloud ecosystems, with a case study from the energy industry. An ecosystem may not necessarily be governed by a single entity, and the participants may not always be aware of each other. Energy generation and consumption in the Netherlands is part of a complex international ecosystem involving producers, consumers, transporters, and traders of many kinds. A participant may be involved in several ecosystems in several ways: a farmer for example, might consume energy, have wind turbines to produce it, and also participate in food production and transport ecosystems.

Penelope Gordon of 1-Plug Corporation explained how choice and use of business metrics can impact Cloud service providers. She worked through four examples: a start-up Software-as-a-Service provider requiring investment, an established company thinking of providing its products as cloud services, an IT department planning to offer an in-house private Cloud platform, and a government agency seeking budget for government Cloud.

Mark Skilton, director at Capgemini in the UK, gave a presentation titled “Digital Transformation and the Role of Cloud Computing.” He covered a very broad canvas of business transformation driven by technological change, and illustrated his theme with a case study from the pharmaceutical industry. New technology enables new business models, giving competitive advantage. Increasingly, the introduction of this technology is driven by the business, rather than the IT side of the enterprise, and it has major challenges for both sides. But what new technologies are in question? Mark’s presentation had Cloud in the title, but also featured social and mobile computing, and Big Data.

The New Trend

On Thursday morning I took a longer run, to and round Balboa Island. With only one road in or out, its main street of shops and restaurants is not a through route and the island has the feel of a real village. The SOA Work Group Steering Committee had found an excellent, and reasonably priced, Italian restaurant there the previous evening. There is a clear resurgence of interest in SOA, partly driven by the use of service orientation – the principle, rather than particular protocols – in Cloud Computing and other new technologies. That morning I took the track round the shoreline, and was reminded a little of Dylan Thomas’s “fishing boat bobbing sea.” Fishing here is for leisure rather than livelihood, but I suspected that the fishermen, like those of Thomas’s little Welsh village, spend more time in the bar than on the water.

I thought about how the conference sessions had indicated an emerging trend. This is not a new technology but the combination of four current technologies to create a new platform for enterprise IT: Social, Cloud, and Mobile computing, and Big Data. Mary Ann Mezzapelle’s presentation had referenced IDC’s “third platform.” Other discussions had mentioned Gartner’s “Nexus of forces,” the combination of Social, Cloud and Mobile computing with information that Gartner says is transforming the way people and businesses relate to technology, and will become a key differentiator of business and technology management. Mark Skilton had included these same four technologies in his presentation. Great minds, and analyst corporations, think alike!

I thought also about the examples and case studies in the stream presentations. Areas as diverse as healthcare, manufacturing, energy and policing are using the new technologies. Clearly, they can deliver major business benefits. The challenge for enterprise architects is to maximize those benefits through pragmatic architectures.

Emerging Standards

On the way back to the hotel, I remarked again on what I had noticed before, how beautifully neat and carefully maintained the front gardens bordering the sidewalk are. I almost felt that I was running through a public botanical garden. Is there some ordinance requiring people to keep their gardens tidy, with severe penalties for anyone who leaves a lawn or hedge unclipped? Is a miserable defaulter fitted with a ball and chain, not to be removed until the untidy vegetation has been properly trimmed, with nail clippers? Apparently not. People here keep their gardens tidy because they want to. The best standards are like that: universally followed, without use or threat of sanction.

Standards are an issue for the new enterprise platform. Apart from the underlying standards of the Internet, there really aren’t any. The area isn’t even mapped out. Vendors of Social, Cloud, Mobile, and Big Data products and services are trying to stake out as much valuable real estate as they can. They have no interest yet in boundaries with neatly-clipped hedges.

This is a stage that every new technology goes through. Then, as it matures, the vendors understand that their products and services have much more value when they conform to standards, just as properties have more value in an area where everything is neat and well-maintained.

It may be too soon to define those standards for the new enterprise platform, but it is certainly time to start mapping out the area, to understand its subdivisions and how they inter-relate, and to prepare the way for standards. Following the conference, The Open Group has announced a new Forum, provisionally titled Open Platform 3.0, to do just that.

The SOA and Cloud Work Groups

Thursday was my final day of meetings at the conference. The plenary and streams presentations were done. This day was for working meetings of the SOA and Cloud Work Groups. I also had an informal discussion with Ron Schuldt about a new approach for the UDEF, following up on the earlier UDEF side meeting. The conference hallways, as well as the meeting rooms, often see productive business done.

The SOA Work Group discussed a certification program for SOA professionals, and an update to the SOA Reference Architecture. The Open Group is working with ISO and the IEEE to define a standard SOA reference architecture that will have consensus across all three bodies.

The Cloud Work Group had met earlier to further the TOGAF for Cloud ecosystems project. Now it worked on its forthcoming white paper on business performance metrics. It also – though this was not on the original agenda – discussed Gartner’s Nexus of Forces, and the future role of the Work Group in mapping out the new enterprise platform.

Mapping the New Enterprise Platform

At the start of the conference we looked at how to map the stars. Big Data analytics enables people to visualize the universe in new ways, reach new understandings of what is in it and how it works, and point to new areas for future exploration.

As the conference progressed, we found that Big Data is part of a convergence of forces. Social, mobile, and Cloud Computing are being combined with Big Data to form a new enterprise platform. The development of this platform, and its roll-out to support innovative applications that deliver more business value, is what lies beyond Big Data.

At the end of the conference we were thinking about mapping the new enterprise platform. This will not require sophisticated data processing and analysis. It will take discussions to create a common understanding, and detailed committee work to draft the guidelines and standards. This work will be done by The Open Group’s new Open Platform 3.0 Forum.

The next Open Group conference is in the week of April 15, in Sydney, Australia. I’m told that there’s some great jogging there. More importantly, we’ll be reflecting on progress in mapping Open Platform 3.0, and thinking about what lies ahead. I’m looking forward to it already.

Dr. Chris Harding is Director for Interoperability and SOA at The Open Group. He has been with The Open Group for more than ten years, and is currently responsible for managing and supporting its work on interoperability, including SOA and interoperability aspects of Cloud Computing. He is a member of the BCS, the IEEE and the AEA, and is a certified TOGAF practitioner.

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SOA Provides Needed Support for Enterprise Architecture in Cloud, Mobile, Big Data, Says Open Group Panel

By Dana Gardner, BriefingsDirect

There’s been a resurgent role for service-oriented architecture (SOA) as a practical and relevant ingredient for effective design and use of Cloud, mobile, and big data technologies.

To find out why, The Open Group recently gathered an international panel of experts to explore the concept of “architecture is destiny,” especially when it comes to hybrid services delivery and management. The panel shows how SOA is proving instrumental in allowing the needed advancements over highly distributed services and data, when it comes to scale, heterogeneity support, and governance.

The panel consists of Chris Harding, Director of Interoperability at The Open Group, based in the UK; Nikhil Kumar, President of Applied Technology Solutions and Co-Chair of the SOA Reference Architecture Projects within The Open Group, and he’s based in Michigan, and Mats Gejnevall, Enterprise Architect at Capgemini and Co-Chair of The Open Group SOA Work Group, and he’s based in Sweden. The discussion is moderated by Dana Gardner, Principal Analyst at Interarbor Solutions.

The full podcast can be found here.

Here are some excerpts:

Gardner: Why this resurgence in the interest around SOA?

Harding: My role in The Open Group is to support the work of our members on SOA, Cloud computing, and other topics. We formed the SOA Work Group back in 2005, when SOA was a real emerging hot topic, and we set up a number of activities and projects. They’re all completed.

I was thinking that the SOA Work Group would wind down, move into maintenance mode, and meet once every few months or so, but we still get a fair attendance at our regular web meetings.

In fact, we’ve started two new projects and we’re about to start a third one. So, it’s very clear that there is still an interest, and indeed a renewed interest, in SOA from the IT community within The Open Group.

Larger trends

Gardner: Nikhil, do you believe that this has to do with some of the larger trends we’re seeing in the field, like Cloud Software as a Service (SaaS)? What’s driving this renewal?

Kumar: What I see driving it is three things. One is the advent of the Cloud and mobile, which requires a lot of cross-platform delivery of consistent services. The second is emerging technologies, mobile, big data, and the need to be able to look at data across multiple contexts.

The third thing that’s driving it is legacy modernization. A lot of organizations are now a lot more comfortable with SOA concepts. I see it in a number of our customers. I’ve just been running a large Enterprise Architecture initiative in a Fortune 500 customer.

At each stage, and at almost every point in that, they’re now comfortable. They feel that SOA can provide the ability to rationalize multiple platforms. They’re restructuring organizational structures, delivery organizations, as well as targeting their goals around a service-based platform capability.

So legacy modernization is a back-to-the-future kind of thing that has come back and is getting adoption. The way it’s being implemented is using RESTful services, as well as SOAP services, which is different from traditional SOA, say from the last version, which was mostly SOAP-driven.

Gardner: Mats, do you think that what’s happened is that the marketplace and the requirements have changed and that’s made SOA more relevant? Or has SOA changed to better fit the market? Or perhaps some combination?

Gejnevall: I think that the Cloud is really a service delivery platform. Companies discover that to be able to use the Cloud services, the SaaS things, they need to look at SOA as their internal development way of doing things as well. They understand they need to do the architecture internally, and if they’re going to use lots of external Cloud services, you might as well use SOA to do that.

Also, if you look at the Cloud suppliers, they also need to do their architecture in some way and SOA probably is a good vehicle for them. They can use that paradigm and also deliver what the customer wants in a well-designed SOA environment.

Gardner: Let’s drill down on the requirements around the Cloud and some of the key components of SOA. We’re certainly seeing, as you mentioned, the need for cross support for legacy, Cloud types of services, and using a variety of protocol, transports, and integration types. We already heard about REST for lightweight approaches and, of course, there will still be the need for object brokering and some of the more traditional enterprise integration approaches.

This really does sound like the job for an Enterprise Service Bus (ESB). So let’s go around the panel and look at this notion of an ESB. Some people, a few years back, didn’t think it was necessary or a requirement for SOA, but it certainly sounds like it’s the right type of functionality for the job.

Loosely coupled

Harding: I believe so, but maybe we ought to consider that in the Cloud context, you’re not just talking about within a single enterprise. You’re talking about a much more loosely coupled, distributed environment, and the ESB concept needs to take account of that in the Cloud context.

Gardner: Nikhil, any thoughts about how to manage this integration requirement around the modern SOA environment and whether ESBs are more or less relevant as a result?

Kumar: In the context of a Cloud we really see SOA and the concept of service contracts coming to the fore. In that scenario, ESBs play a role as a broker within the enterprise. When we talk about the interaction across Cloud-service providers and Cloud consumers, what we’re seeing is that the service provider has his own concept of an ESB within its own internal context.

If you want your Cloud services to be really reusable, the concept of the ESB then becomes more for the routing and the mediation of those services, once they’re provided to the consumer. There’s a kind of separation of concerns between the concept of a traditional ESB and a Cloud ESB, if you want to call it that.

The Cloud context involves more of the need to be able to support, enforce, and apply governance concepts and audit concepts, the capabilities to ensure that the interaction meets quality of service guarantees. That’s a little different from the concept that drove traditional ESBs.

That’s why you’re seeing API management platforms like Layer 7Mashery, or Apigee and other kind of product lines. They’re also coming into the picture, driven by the need to be able to support the way Cloud providers are provisioning their services. As Chris put it, you’re looking beyond the enterprise. Who owns it? That’s where the role of the ESB is different from the traditional concept.

Most Cloud platforms have cost factors associated with locality. If you have truly global enterprises and services, you need to factor in the ability to deal with safe harbor issues and you need to factor in variations and law in terms of security governance.

The platforms that are evolving are starting to provide this out of the box. The service consumer or a service provider needs to be able to support those. That’s going to become the role of their ESB in the future, to be able to consume a service, to be able to assert this quality-of-service guarantee, and manage constraints or data-in-flight and data-at-rest.

Gardner: Mats, are there other aspects of the concept of ESB that are now relevant to the Cloud?

Entire stack

Gejnevall: One of the reasons SOA didn’t really take off in many organizations three, four, or five years ago was the need to buy the entire stack of SOA products that all the consultancies were asking companies to buy, wanting them to buy an ESB, governance tools, business process management tools, and a lot of sort of quite large investments to just get your foot into the door of doing SOA.

These days you can buy that kind of stuff. You can buy the entire stack in the Cloud and start playing with it. I did some searches on it today and I found a company that you can play with the entire stack, including business tools and everything like that, for zero dollars. Then you can grow and use more and more of it in your business, but you can start to see if this is something for you.

In the past, the suppliers or the consultants told you that you could do it. You couldn’t really try it out yourself. You needed both the software and the hardware in place. The money to get started is much lower today. That’s another reason people might be thinking about it these days.

Gardner: It sounds as if there’s a new type of on-ramp to SOA values, and the componentry that supports SOA is now being delivered as a service. On top of that, you’re also able to consume it in a pay-as-you-go manner.

Harding: That’s a very good point, but there are two contradictory trends we are seeing here. One is the kind of trend that Mats is describing, where the technology you need to handle a complex stack is becoming readily available in the Cloud.

And the other is the trend that Nikhil mentioned: to go for a simpler style, which a lot of people term REST, for accessing services. It will be interesting to see how those two tendencies play out against each other.

Kumar: I’d like to make a comment on that. The approach for the on-ramp is really one of the key differentiators of the Cloud, because you have the agility and the lack of capital investment (CAPEX) required to test things out.

But as we are evolving with Cloud platforms, I’m also seeing with a lot of Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) vendor scenarios that they’re trying the ESB in the stack itself. They’re providing it in their Cloud fabric. A couple of large players have already done that.

For example, Azure provides that in the forward-looking vision. I am sure IBM and Oracle have already started down that path. A lot of the players are going to provide it as a core capability.

Pre-integrated environment

Gejnevall: Another interesting thing is that they could get a whole environment that’s pre-integrated. Usually, when you buy these things from a vendor, a lot of times they don’t fit together that well. Now, there’s an effort to make them work together.

But some people put these open-source tools together. Some people have done that and put them out on the Cloud, which gives them a pretty cheap platform for themselves. Then, they can sell it at a reasonable price, because of the integration of all these things.

Gardner: The Cloud model may be evolving toward an all-inclusive offering. But SOA, by its definition, advances interoperability, to plug and play across existing, current, and future sets of service possibilities. Are we talking about SOA being an important element of keeping Clouds dynamic and flexible — even open?

Kumar: We can think about the OSI 7 Layer Model. We’re evolving in terms of complexity, right? So from an interoperability perspective, we may talk SOAP or REST, for example, but the interaction with AWS, SalesforceSmartCloud, or Azure would involve using APIs that each of these platforms provide for interaction.

Lock-in

So you could have an AMI, which is an image on the Amazon Web Services environment, for example, and that could support a lab stack or an open source stack. How you interact with it, how you monitor it, how you cluster it, all of those aspects now start factoring in specific APIs, and so that’s the lock-in.

From an architect’s perspective, I look at it as we need to support proper separation of concerns, and that’s part of [The Open Group] SOA Reference Architecture. That’s what we tried to do, to be able to support implementation architectures that support that separation of concerns.

There’s another factor that we need to understand from the context of the Cloud, especially for mid-to-large sized organizations, and that is that the Cloud service providers, especially the large ones — Amazon, Microsoft, IBM — encapsulate infrastructure.

If you were to go to Amazon, Microsoft, or IBM and use their IaaS networking capabilities, you’d have one of the largest WAN networks in the world, and you wouldn’t have to pay a dime to establish that infrastructure. Not in terms of the cost of the infrastructure, not in terms of the capabilities required, nothing. So that’s an advantage that the Cloud is bringing, which I think is going to be very compelling.

The other thing is that, from an SOA context, you’re now able to look at it and say, “Well, I’m dealing with the Cloud, and what all these providers are doing is make it seamless, whether you’re dealing with the Cloud or on-premise.” That’s an important concept.

Now, each of these providers and different aspects of their stacks are at significantly different levels of maturity. Many of these providers may find that their stacks do not interoperate with themselves either, within their own stacks, just because they’re using different run times, different implementations, etc. That’s another factor to take in.

From an SOA perspective, the Cloud has become very compelling, because I’m dealing, let’s say, with a Salesforce.com and I want to use that same service within the enterprise, let’s say, an insurance capability for Microsoft Dynamics or for SugarCRM. If that capability is exposed to one source of truth in the enterprise, you’ve now reduced the complexity and have the ability to adopt different Cloud platforms.

What we are going to start seeing is that the Cloud is going to shift from being just one à-la-carte solution for everybody. It’s going to become something similar to what we used to deal with in the enterprise context. You had multiple applications, which you service-enabled to reduce complexity and provide one service-based capability, instead of an application-centered approach.

You’re now going to move the context to the Cloud, to your multiple Cloud solutions, and maybe many implementations in a nontrivial environment for the same business capability, but they are now exposed to services in the enterprise SOA. You could have Salesforce. You could have Amazon. You could have an IBM implementation. And you could pick and choose the source of truth and share it.

So a lot of the core SOA concepts will still apply and are still applying.

Another on-ramp

Gardner: Perhaps yet another on-ramp to the use of SOA is the app store, which allows for discovery, socialization of services, but at the same time provides overnance and control?

Kumar: We’re seeing that with a lot of our customers, typically the vendors who support PaaS solution associate app store models along with their platform as a mechanism to gain market share.

The issue that you run into with that is, it’s okay if it’s on your cellphone or on your iPad, your tablet PC, or whatever, but once you start having managed apps, for example Salesforce, or if you have applications which are being deployed on an Azure or on a SmartCloud context, you have high risk scenario. You don’t know how well architected that application is. It’s just like going and buying an enterprise application.

When you deploy it in the Cloud, you really need to understand the Cloud PaaS platform for that particular platform to understand the implications in terms of dependencies and cross-dependencies across apps that you have installed. They have real practical implications in terms of maintainability and performance. We’ve seen that with at least two platforms in the last six months.

Governance becomes extremely important. Because of the low CAPEX implications to the business, the business is very comfortable with going and buying these applications and saying, “We can install X, Y, or Z and it will cost us two months and a few million dollars and we are all set.” Or maybe it’s a few hundred thousand dollars.

They don’t realize the implications in terms of interoperability, performance, and standard architectural quality attributes that can occur. There is a governance aspect from the context of the Cloud provisioning of these applications.

There is another aspect to it, which is governance in terms of the run-time, more classic SOA governance, to measure, assert, and to view the cost of these applications in terms of performance to your infrastructural resources, to your security constraints. Also, are there scenarios where the application itself has a dependency on a daisy chain, multiple external applications, to trace the data?

In terms of the context of app stores, they’re almost like SaaS with a particular platform in mind. They provide the buyer with certain commitments from the platform manager or the platform provider, such as security. When you buy an app from Apple, there is at least a reputational expectation of security from the vendor.

What you do not always know is if that security is really being provided. There’s a risk there for organizations who are exposing mission-critical data to that.

The second thing is there is still very much a place for the classic SOA registries and repositories in the Cloud. Only the place is for a different purpose. Those registries and repositories are used either by service providers or by consumers to maintain the list of services they’re using internally.

Different paradigms

There are two different paradigms. The app store is a place where I can go and I know that the gas I am going to get is 85 percent ethanol, versus I also have to maintain some basic set of goods at home to make that I have my dinner on time. These are different kind of roles and different kind of purposes they’re serving.

Above all, I think the thing that’s going to become more and more important in the context of the Cloud is that the functionality will be provided by the Cloud platform or the app you buy, but the governance will be a major IT responsibility, right from the time of picking the app, to the time of delivering it, to the time of monitoring it.

Gardner: How is The Open Group allowing architects to better exercise SOA principles, as they’re grappling with some of these issues around governance, hybrid services delivery and management, and the use and demand in their organizations to start consuming more Cloud services?

Harding: The architect’s primary concern, of course, has to be to meet the needs of the client and to do so in a way that is most effective and that is cost-effective. Cloud gives the architect a usability to go out and get different components much more easily than hitherto.

There is a problem, of course, with integrating them and putting them together. SOA can provide part of the solution to that problem, in that it gives a principle of loosely coupled services. If you didn’t have that when you were trying to integrate different functionality from different places, you would be in a real mess.

What The Open Group contributes is a set of artifacts that enable the architect to think through how to meet the client’s needs in the best way when working with SOA and Cloud.

For example, the SOA Reference Architecture helps the architect understand what components might be brought into the solution. We have the SOA TOGAF Practical Guide, which helps the architect understand how to use TOGAF® in the SOA context.

We’re working further on artifacts in the Cloud space, the Cloud Computing Reference Architecture, a notational language for enabling people to describe Cloud ecosystems on recommendations for Cloud interoperability and portability. We’re also working on recommendations for Cloud governance to complement the recommendations for SOA governance, the SOA Governance Framework Standards that we have already produced, and a number of other artifacts.

The Open Group’s real role is to support the architect and help the architect to better meet the needs of the architect client.

From the very early days, SOA was seen as bringing a closer connection between the business and technology. A lot of those promises that were made about SOA seven or eight years ago are only now becoming possible to fulfill, and that business front is what that project is looking at.

We’re also producing an update to the SOA Reference Architectures. We have input the SOA Reference Architecture for consideration by the ISO Group that is looking at an International Standard Reference Architecture for SOA and also to the IEEE Group that is looking at an IEEE Standard Reference Architecture.

We hope that both of those groups will want to work along the principles of our SOA Reference Architecture and we intend to produce a new version that incorporates the kind of ideas that they want to bring into the picture.

We’re also thinking of setting up an SOA project to look specifically at assistance to architects building SOA into enterprise solutions.

So those are three new initiatives that should result in new Open Group standards and guides to complement, as I have described already, the SOA Reference Architecture, the SOA Governance Framework, the Practical Guides to using TOGAF for SOA.

We also have the Service Integration Maturity Model that we need to assess the SOA maturity. We have a standard on service orientation applied to Cloud infrastructure, and we have a formal SOA Ontology.

Those are the things The Open Group has in place at present to assist the architect, and we are and will be working on three new things: version 2 of the Reference Architecture for SOA, SOA for business technology, and I believe shortly we’ll start on assistance to architects in developing SOA solutions.

Dana Gardner is the Principal Analyst at Interarbor Solutions, which identifies and interprets the trends in Services-Oriented Architecture (SOA) and enterprise software infrastructure markets. Interarbor Solutions creates in-depth Web content and distributes it via BriefingsDirect™ blogs, podcasts and video-podcasts to support conversational education about SOA, software infrastructure, Enterprise 2.0, and application development and deployment strategies.

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8 Ways to strengthen your business case for using Cloud

By Pamela Isom, IBM

With the rapid emergence of new technologies such as the Cloud, it is important for business executives and stakeholders to focus on the real business challenges and the needs of the enterprise. By examining some of the key business problems that are prompting companies to use the Cloud, it is possible to build a stronger business case for adopting this technology.

I’ve explored many different use-cases for Cloud Computing from several industries and found common drivers throughout. The use-cases demonstrated business value through optimising resources, lowering costs, and providing solutions on-demand when and where customers, partners and employees need it. The following are key business benefits of the Cloud that organizations require to optimise their business performance.

1. The ability to consolidate information across disparate systems with complete transparency to the user. When information is stored in the cloud, the user does not need to know where the information is stored, whether in one cloud server location or more.

2. The ability to modernize business systems at a low-cost and fast speed of deployment. With Cloud Computing, business leaders engage with service providers to “rent” versus “buy” these new innovative services and solutions. This significantly reduces the cost of entry for new solutions and allows businesses to innovate quickly.

3. The ability to move to a remote desktop services model using the Cloud. With this model, users access applications when and where needed, then release the application license back to the Cloud so that other users in the company can share a common pool of licenses.

4. The need to support high storage capacity requirements, which can ebb and flow in size requirement throughout any given month or year. By leveraging storage capacity via the Cloud, businesses use and pay for only the storage capacity they need, when they need it, on demand.

5. Rapid deployment emerges as a consistent business value theme. With Cloud services, new solutions are accessed via the Cloud by end users, lowering time and cost to deploy solutions across many physical locations. Also, with this central control of IT, business value is driven by the ability to centrally manage user access for security purposes, perform IT maintenance, and address any IT problems.

6. The ability to provide IT using self-service capabilities. In the new Cloud model, development employees can self-provision a very specific hardware and software environment for their testing purposes without requiring additional assistance from hardware and software support personnel.

7. The need to support mobile services. Many solutions in enterprises are “going mobile”, whether supporting mobile employees or services to customers via mobile devices. With mobility services accessed and delivered via the Cloud, support for mobile users is transparent and available on-demand at lower costs to the enterprise.

8. The need to support internal and external collaboration for employees and partners. To minimise cost while driving collaboration, many of the use-cases examined take advantage of collaboration via the cloud to share documents and support meetings online to reduce travel costs.

The ability to drive innovation while at the same time lower costs is a true business benefit to any enterprise, and will certainly strengthen any business case for using Cloud.

Republished with permission from Business Computing World, originally published Feb. 2, 2011

Cloud will be a topic of discussion at The Open Group Conference, San Diego, Feb. 7-11. Join us for best practices, case studies and the future of information security, presented by preeminent thought leaders in the industry.

Pamela K. Isom is a Senior Certified, Executive IT Architect with IBM Global Business Services. Pamela joined IBM in June 2000 and currently leads efforts that drive Smarter Planet efficiencies (such as the adoption of Cloud and green computing) throughout client enterprises using, and often times enhancing, its Enterprise Architecture (EA). Pamela is a trusted advisor to clients and she is a hands-on Cloud adoption strategist and implementer. Pamela is a Distinguished Chief/Lead IT Architect with The Open Group where she leads the Cloud Business Use Case Work Group.

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