Cloud SOA – Cloud as ‘Overlay Architecture’

A common topic when discussing Cloud is that it’s only about migrating your existing apps ‘into the Cloud’, when actually a more likely and productive scenario is keeping your legacy where it is and instead using the Cloud as an “overlay architecture“.

Indeed rather than always thinking in terms of ‘moving our app into the Cloud’, it should be more about ‘connecting my app to the Cloud‘.

Cloud SOA

Leveraging the Cloud as an integrating layer more so than an operational platform can be thought of as an “overlay architecture” approach to business transformation, and there is more than SOA as available toolsets for achieving this.

It is of course an important one, and if you check out vendors like Fiorana you can get a taste for some well thought out approaches to blending Cloud and Service Oriented Architecture.

However it`s not the only one, and the other two I can think of and put forward as your Cloud 2.0 staples are:

  • Open Data Warehousing – By using providers like Socrata, governments can build portals that aggregates all of their back-end data, i.e. a data warehousing approach, and then makes it available via an Open Data API.
  • Enterprise Search Connectors – Utilizing software like Microsoft FAST, you can interrogate your back-end systems via a Search engine.

At one level all of these models enable you to modernize and extend the value of your existing legacy systems without replacing them, by building another layer of apps on top that use the underlying data.

Also in all cases developers can build on top of APIs, so it`s an ecosystem-enablement process too; where you then differentiate between them is the type and goals of that specific project, as each lends itself to scenarios for apps sharing data or for people searching for data, and permutations thereof.

Legacy Transformation

It’s been described that migrating legacy systems to the Cloud is like root canal surgery, which is understandable when you consider all of those DEC, IBM and other mainframe type systems.

Ultimately you can migrate these apps but what is the net benefit? In contrast deployment of new Cloud-centric applications already running the Cloud, which then connect these apps to new web and mobile interfaces, is an easier route with more bang for your buck.

For organizations that currently run a ‘1.0’ web site, these new apps can be overlaid across them to achieve the new 2.0 modernization that is desired, keeping the original code and logic in place but still transforming the business model.


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