Think SOA when building, running apps on cloud: Forrester

While improvements in infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) will happen as a result of improved cloud platforms and management tools from vendors, a new research report suggests that enterprise architects will also have a role to play by improving how they build and run their business apps.

As enterprises increasingly move business apps to the cloud, IT departments should consider replacing traditional “monolithic” apps with ones that are based on services-oriented architecture (SOA) for better scalability and data replication, among other benefits, according to a new report by Cambridge, Mass.-based Forrester Research Inc.

Galen Schreck, vice-president and principal analyst with Forrester, said apps that are not SOA-based will cost more when hosted in the cloud because they must run 24/7 instead of being able to utilize certain components on demand.

Modern service-oriented architecture (SOA) applications, on the other hand, can readily scale up and down,” writes Schreck.

The report, entitled Planning for cloud 2.0: How cloud infrastructure-as-a-service will change for the better, looks at how enterprise architects must change how they create apps for the cloud in order to keep up.

Moreover, he added, SOA-based apps are better protected from the underlying operating system so IT admins don’t have to deal with so many image variants.

SOA-based apps also better handle tasks such as data replication, clustering and load-balancing compared to monolithic apps, added Schreck.

At a keynote late last year, an analyst with research firm Gartner Inc. said going the way of SOA is a good way to prepare for the cloud, but there is a difference in the meaning of the word “service” when in the context of services-oriented architecture versus in the context of cloud service.  

“In the world of SOA, we talk of services as software, live components and objects, but in the real world when you talk about service it is outcome-based,” said David Mitchell Smith, vice-president and fellow with the Stamford, Conn.-based research firm.

Smith went on to caution IT leaders to not make the mistake of thinking that SOA equals cloud because, although they are related concepts, “there is a huge leap there.”

Another new Forrester report this month, entitled The ROI of Cloud Apps, looks at the return on investment (ROI) that enterprises reap when moving on-premise business apps to the cloud.

The report indicates that customer relationship management apps render payback anywhere from 12 to 24 months. Enterprise resource planning apps, due to their complexity, take more than two years for an ROI. And, business productivity apps, such as e-mail, also take 12 to 24 months.

Follow Kathleen Lau on Twitter: @KathleenLau

–with files from IDG

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