Cloud computing and SOA – evolution of implementation is similar

Hear the first part of our interview with David Chen.


You might not equate the two right off the bat — cloud computing and service oriented architecture (SOA) — but they’re similar in terms of how their implementation evolved.

That’s according to David Chen, lead of the technology consulting practice for Accenture Health and Public Service, who is our guest this week to talk about the cloud.

Defining the cloud

It’s one of those things, I think, where if you have five different people, you get five different answers.

We at Accenture define cloud as a type of computing that allows companies and agencies and businesses to access technology-based services via the Internet.

But, there are a lot of exceptions to that.

There are also private clouds.

You can always find some instance of cloud that doesn’t exactly meet the [standard] definition; so, we like to look at some of the characteristics of cloud computing, and really those are — very rapid acquisition of services, very low to no capital investments, low operating costs and, usually, variable pricing tied directly to consumption — pay by the drink-types of models.

We also see cloud services as being program or automatically controlled and being able to be accessed in an on-demand fashion [while] giving you the illusion of infinite capacity.

I would add there’s different types of cloud and we really have four that we highlight: process-as-a-service (getting a business process through a cloud service); application-as-a-service (such as SalesForce.com); platform-as-a-service (using cloud for the development of an environment); and infrastructure-as-a-service (where you are buying compute power or storage).

Working with SalesForce

We are a partner with SalesForce.com and have been for many years. We will help clients who integrate SalesForce.com applications. We have not created our own applications per se. We do have some cloud-like business models and offerings . . . [such as] process-as-a-service, where we do the post-processing for tickets for many of the major airlines.

Cloud and SOA = similar?

Cloud basic fundamentals have been around for quite awhile, especially on the software level. SalesForce.com has been around since 1999 — [that’s] over ten years in terms of an offering; however, there has been a recent convergence of technologies and maturation of technologies on the data center side.

So, if you look at the ability to virtualize and share within a data center, the ability to automatically provision and then you look at the increased bandwidth and robustness of the Internet, that has allowed you to come up with some incredibly powerful price points and time to market.

So, instead of paying hundreds of thousands of dollars for compute power, you are now able to buy small units very cheaply and not have the up front time to create that while handling big spikes in volume.

Some of the new technologies have really added to the power of cloud, as well as some of the offerings now that Amazon and Google and other public providers have.

That has really enabled this new value proposition that is very hard to ignore.

I definitely agree that we’ve seen that spike in the last year or two. It is getting a lot of hype and it’s one of those things, also, like SOA before it — or Web technologies — where every vendor is trying to call what they have ‘cloud’, because of the hype that it’s getting.

But, the underlying business case that you can get now is, I would say, very different that you could get five or 10 years ago due to some of these newer technologies.

Wednesday: Is moving into the cloud inevitable?

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