Welcome!

@CloudExpo Authors: Ed Featherston, Rostyslav Demush, Jamie Madison, Jason Bloomberg, Greg Pierce

Related Topics: @CloudExpo, Microservices Expo

@CloudExpo: Article

Who's Architecting the Cloud?

Will the cloud succumb to the same short-sighted, market pressure that doomed the ASP model and still plagues SaaS approaches?

Interarbor Solutions Blog

As the hype cycle for the cloud computing continues to gather steam, an increasing number of end users are starting to see the silver lining, while others are simply lost in the fog. It is clear that the debate over the definition, business model, and benefits of cloud will continue for some time, but it is also clear that the sluggish economic environment is increasing the appeal of having someone else pay for the robust infrastructure needed to run one’s applications. Yet, all this talk of leveraging cloud capabilities, or perhaps even building one’s own cloud, whether for public or private consumption, introduces thorny problems. How can we make sure that the cloud will bring us closer to the heavenly vision of IT we search for rather than a fog that hides a complex mess? Who will make sure that the cloud vision isn’t just another reinterpretation of the Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), Application Service Provider (ASP), grid and utility computing model that provided some technical answers but didn’t simplify anything for the internal organization? Who is architecting this mess?

Architecture and the Utility Services Cloud

Most of the time, when people point to practical, in-production examples of cloud computing efforts, they are talking about the sorts of utility services offered by Amazon.com, Google, Salesforce.com, and others. The Services offered in these clouds are not built with any particular application in mind, but rather whole categories of applications. For obvious reasons, these cloud providers seek to leverage economies of scale by serving the largest possible audience using a handful of highly reusable Services, where reuse is defined by usage in multiple contexts. For these cloud providers, the utility Services simultaneously provide a source of revenue as well as a platform their customers use to replace proprietary, in-house infrastructure and middleware.

Given that the emphasis of these Services is to meet the needs of a large and

For obvious reasons, these cloud providers seek to leverage economies of scale by serving the largest possible audience using a handful of highly reusable Services, where reuse is defined by usage in multiple contexts.

continuously growing audience who have diverse requirements, the utility cloud provider’s primary focus is placed on infrastructural concerns. As a result, it’s the infrastructure technologists who are in charge of this cloud. When the “architecture team” meets in these cloud providers, what problems are they aiming to solve? Business problems? Certainly not. In most cases, the architecture teams for these providers (of which we’ve been privy to a number of conversations), focus almost exclusively on technology and infrastructural concerns. Key conversations revolve around performance optimization, implementation change management, optimizing the balance between efficiency and cost, meeting reliability and uptime concerns, and addressing privacy, security, and governance issues.

Where’s the business in all this? The answer: nowhere. Where should the business be in all this? That’s a tough question to answer because without Service consumers, the cloud wouldn’t exist at all. However, it is not the goal of the cloud provider to meet any specific business requirements. Rather, the requirements are aggregated to create a business “persona” that is the focus of continual Service releases. In this manner, one could argue that there are no enterprise architects providing any value in this environment. The most pervasive form of architecture done in these environments is more akin to Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) approaches rather than any form of enterprise architecture (EA). Utility clouds are the domain of infrastructure experts, not business-IT gap bridgers or process modelers, and one could argue that this status quo will probably never change.

Architecture and the Application (Process) Cloud

However, the utility Service vision of the cloud is not the only one. Indeed, we’re starting to see the emergence of application and process clouds that provide the same infrastructural and economic benefits of clouds, but applied to process-specific concerns. These cloud providers enable the outsourcing of entire processes that run in a virtualized cloud environment as a way of handling variability in scale. For example, an insurance company can use a cloud provider's claims processing Service when their internal capacity is not sufficient to meet demand. As long as the process is Service-oriented, this approach works well and leverages the strength of the cloud's abstract infrastructure capability while staying focused on the process. This way, an organization can have its internal processes augmented by third-party cloud processes. For example, insurance clouds provide elastic capabilities for insurance applications as demand ebbs and flows. Likewise, banking, supply chain, retail, and other process-specific clouds provide cloud computing benefits for specific groups of business users.

In this environment, the cloud provider needs to balance two different, but equal concerns:

. . . the job of the enterprise architecture team is to optimize the conceptual equation of producing the smallest set of Services that meet the largest number of business processes.

infrastructural issues of the sort described above, and the challenge of meeting continuously changing business requirements. When application-specific cloud provider architect groups meet, their conversations look very different from utility Service cloud providers. Rather than focusing on infrastructural issues as they try to meet the common denominator of needs (“speeds and feeds”), the conversation usually revolves around how the team will meet new business process requirements given the existing set of Services and infrastructure. In many ways, these teams have a true EA conversation: the continuously changing and diverse business requirements on the one hand, and the technical capabilities on the other. These EA conversations invoke aspects of Agile Methodologies and EA frameworks more so than ITIL. Rather than trying to minimize the set of business processes handled by the cloud, they seek to continuously expand the universe of processes addressed.

As we often discuss in our Licensed ZapThink Architect (LZA) SOA training courses, the job of the enterprise architecture team is to optimize the conceptual equation of producing the smallest set of Services that meet the largest number of business processes. You don’t want to produce too many Services, otherwise there’s waste. Likewise, you don’t want to produce too few Services as that constrains the number of business processes you can address. As new Services are introduced, the universe of business processes addressed likewise increases. Since application / process-specific cloud providers are businesses that must justify their existence by staying focused on the business without impacting existing operations. Sounds like something all enterprise architect teams should do, no?

The ZapThink Take

In many ways, the discussion of architecture has been given short shrift in cloud computing conversations. In much the same way that the Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA) conversation degenerated into a conversation about the (often unnecessary) Enterprise Services Bus (ESB), the cloud conversation is degenerating into one about the infrastructure needed to handle scalable Service provider volume. And where is the conversation about the business process? Unless you are planning to build a general-purpose Service provider cloud to compete with the likes of Amazon.com and others, you should be focused on where the opportunity is: in the process. And to focus on the process while keeping an eye on the technology requires an enterprise architecture perspective.

The mistake that many cloud-consuming companies are making is that the cloud is giving them an excuse not to think about enterprise architecture at all.

Once again, the refrain is that SOA is not something you buy, but something you do. Perhaps we can start hearing the same mantra with cloud computing?

The thought going through the head of many a supposed architect is: “whew, thank goodness we’re putting this in the cloud so that I don’t have to invest in architecture.” Wow, what a mistake. These companies will be in for a rude awakening when they realize that all they’ve done is shifted their internal mess, which at least they have some control and visibility over, to an external mess that they have less control over. Enterprise architecture doesn’t go away simply because someone else is hosting or providing your Services. Organizations that want to have any chance of improving their agility, flexibility, reliability, and performance need to be in charge of their own architecture. There is no other option.

Given that too few cloud computing providers have your business in mind when they architect their solutions, and the ones that have a process-specific business model and approach aren’t concerned with your specific business, it lands upon the laps of enterprise architects within the organization to plan, manage, and govern their own architecture. Once again, the refrain is that SOA is not something you buy, but something you do. Perhaps we can start hearing the same mantra with cloud computing? Or will the cloud succumb to the same short-sighted, market pressure that doomed the ASP model and still plagues SaaS approaches? It’s not up to vendors to answer this question. It’s up to you … the enterprise architect. There are no short-cuts to EA.

This guest post comes courtesy of
ZapThink. Ron Schmelzer, a senior analyst at ZapThink, can be reached here.


SPECIAL PARTNER OFFER

SOA and EA Training,Certification,
and Networking Events

In need of vendor-neutral, architect-level SOA and EA training? ZapThink's Licensed ZapThink Architect (LZA) SOA Boot Camps provide four days of intense, hands-on architect-level SOA training and certification.

Advanced SOA architects might want to enroll in ZapThink's SOA Governance and Security training and certification courses. Or, are you just looking to network with your peers, interact with experts and pundits, and schmooze on SOA after hours? Join us at an upcoming ZapForum event. Find out more and register for these events at http://www.zapthink.com/eventreg.html.


More Stories By Ron Schmelzer

Ron Schmelzer is founder and senior analyst of ZapThink. A well-known expert in the field of XML and XML-based standards and initiatives, Ron has been featured in and written for periodicals and has spoken on the subject of XML at numerous industry conferences.

@CloudExpo Stories
DX World EXPO, LLC, a Lighthouse Point, Florida-based startup trade show producer and the creator of "DXWorldEXPO® - Digital Transformation Conference & Expo" has announced its executive management team. The team is headed by Levent Selamoglu, who has been named CEO. "Now is the time for a truly global DX event, to bring together the leading minds from the technology world in a conversation about Digital Transformation," he said in making the announcement.
"Space Monkey by Vivent Smart Home is a product that is a distributed cloud-based edge storage network. Vivent Smart Home, our parent company, is a smart home provider that places a lot of hard drives across homes in North America," explained JT Olds, Director of Engineering, and Brandon Crowfeather, Product Manager, at Vivint Smart Home, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Conference Guru has been named “Media Sponsor” of the 22nd International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. A valuable conference experience generates new contacts, sales leads, potential strategic partners and potential investors; helps gather competitive intelligence and even provides inspiration for new products and services. Conference Guru works with conference organizers to pass great deals to gre...
DevOps is under attack because developers don’t want to mess with infrastructure. They will happily own their code into production, but want to use platforms instead of raw automation. That’s changing the landscape that we understand as DevOps with both architecture concepts (CloudNative) and process redefinition (SRE). Rob Hirschfeld’s recent work in Kubernetes operations has led to the conclusion that containers and related platforms have changed the way we should be thinking about DevOps and...
In his Opening Keynote at 21st Cloud Expo, John Considine, General Manager of IBM Cloud Infrastructure, led attendees through the exciting evolution of the cloud. He looked at this major disruption from the perspective of technology, business models, and what this means for enterprises of all sizes. John Considine is General Manager of Cloud Infrastructure Services at IBM. In that role he is responsible for leading IBM’s public cloud infrastructure including strategy, development, and offering m...
The next XaaS is CICDaaS. Why? Because CICD saves developers a huge amount of time. CD is an especially great option for projects that require multiple and frequent contributions to be integrated. But… securing CICD best practices is an emerging, essential, yet little understood practice for DevOps teams and their Cloud Service Providers. The only way to get CICD to work in a highly secure environment takes collaboration, patience and persistence. Building CICD in the cloud requires rigorous ar...
Companies are harnessing data in ways we once associated with science fiction. Analysts have access to a plethora of visualization and reporting tools, but considering the vast amount of data businesses collect and limitations of CPUs, end users are forced to design their structures and systems with limitations. Until now. As the cloud toolkit to analyze data has evolved, GPUs have stepped in to massively parallel SQL, visualization and machine learning.
"Evatronix provides design services to companies that need to integrate the IoT technology in their products but they don't necessarily have the expertise, knowledge and design team to do so," explained Adam Morawiec, VP of Business Development at Evatronix, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
To get the most out of their data, successful companies are not focusing on queries and data lakes, they are actively integrating analytics into their operations with a data-first application development approach. Real-time adjustments to improve revenues, reduce costs, or mitigate risk rely on applications that minimize latency on a variety of data sources. In his session at @BigDataExpo, Jack Norris, Senior Vice President, Data and Applications at MapR Technologies, reviewed best practices to ...
"ZeroStack is a startup in Silicon Valley. We're solving a very interesting problem around bringing public cloud convenience with private cloud control for enterprises and mid-size companies," explained Kamesh Pemmaraju, VP of Product Management at ZeroStack, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Large industrial manufacturing organizations are adopting the agile principles of cloud software companies. The industrial manufacturing development process has not scaled over time. Now that design CAD teams are geographically distributed, centralizing their work is key. With large multi-gigabyte projects, outdated tools have stifled industrial team agility, time-to-market milestones, and impacted P&L stakeholders.
Enterprises are adopting Kubernetes to accelerate the development and the delivery of cloud-native applications. However, sharing a Kubernetes cluster between members of the same team can be challenging. And, sharing clusters across multiple teams is even harder. Kubernetes offers several constructs to help implement segmentation and isolation. However, these primitives can be complex to understand and apply. As a result, it’s becoming common for enterprises to end up with several clusters. Thi...
"Infoblox does DNS, DHCP and IP address management for not only enterprise networks but cloud networks as well. Customers are looking for a single platform that can extend not only in their private enterprise environment but private cloud, public cloud, tracking all the IP space and everything that is going on in that environment," explained Steve Salo, Principal Systems Engineer at Infoblox, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Conventio...
In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, James Henry, Co-CEO/CTO of Calgary Scientific Inc., introduced you to the challenges, solutions and benefits of training AI systems to solve visual problems with an emphasis on improving AIs with continuous training in the field. He explored applications in several industries and discussed technologies that allow the deployment of advanced visualization solutions to the cloud.
The question before companies today is not whether to become intelligent, it’s a question of how and how fast. The key is to adopt and deploy an intelligent application strategy while simultaneously preparing to scale that intelligence. In her session at 21st Cloud Expo, Sangeeta Chakraborty, Chief Customer Officer at Ayasdi, provided a tactical framework to become a truly intelligent enterprise, including how to identify the right applications for AI, how to build a Center of Excellence to oper...
"IBM is really all in on blockchain. We take a look at sort of the history of blockchain ledger technologies. It started out with bitcoin, Ethereum, and IBM evaluated these particular blockchain technologies and found they were anonymous and permissionless and that many companies were looking for permissioned blockchain," stated René Bostic, Technical VP of the IBM Cloud Unit in North America, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Conventi...
In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Carl J. Levine, Senior Technical Evangelist for NS1, will objectively discuss how DNS is used to solve Digital Transformation challenges in large SaaS applications, CDNs, AdTech platforms, and other demanding use cases. Carl J. Levine is the Senior Technical Evangelist for NS1. A veteran of the Internet Infrastructure space, he has over a decade of experience with startups, networking protocols and Internet infrastructure, combined with the unique ability to it...
22nd International Cloud Expo, taking place June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and co-located with the 1st DXWorld Expo will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. Cloud computing is now being embraced by a majority of enterprises of all sizes. Yesterday's debate about public vs. private has transformed into the reality of hybrid cloud: a recent survey shows that 74% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud ...
"Cloud Academy is an enterprise training platform for the cloud, specifically public clouds. We offer guided learning experiences on AWS, Azure, Google Cloud and all the surrounding methodologies and technologies that you need to know and your teams need to know in order to leverage the full benefits of the cloud," explained Alex Brower, VP of Marketing at Cloud Academy, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clar...
Gemini is Yahoo’s native and search advertising platform. To ensure the quality of a complex distributed system that spans multiple products and components and across various desktop websites and mobile app and web experiences – both Yahoo owned and operated and third-party syndication (supply), with complex interaction with more than a billion users and numerous advertisers globally (demand) – it becomes imperative to automate a set of end-to-end tests 24x7 to detect bugs and regression. In th...