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Time to Rain on the “Cloud Service Model” Parade

We should look closely at the idea of Everything as a Service

The Cloud community have been talking recently about Everything as a Service; they call it EaaS. At first hearing it’s an interesting idea, another acronym to complement IaaS, PaaS and SaaS. Unfortunately it’s rather like the tail wagging the dog!  The Cloud community use the term Service liberally but with minimal consistency.

It must be said that the NIST reference architecture document has been incredibly helpful in sorting out the three Cloud service models of IaaS, PaaS and SaaS. However in order to read the document you have to suspend all your knowledge and belief of services and read the document interpreting all references to service as “provision or access to some capability”. In other words as a generic IS service of some sort.

Actually most Cloud infrastructure resources are provisioned as well formed services governed by interface and SLA contracts. There are a few SaaS providers that have implemented an SOA – in compliance with generally accepted principles of loose coupling, separation etc. However most Cloud services are multi-tenant application resources with integration capabilities delivered as Web services. Yet perceived wisdom generally says that SOA is essential for Cloud!

I noted an interesting paper from Intel recently[i]; the thing that really struck me was the way the paper describes how Cloud development as the Wild West (my words), and the author is advocating ideas that amount to rediscovering the SOA wheel!
SaaS and PaaS providers are circumventing traditional enterprise architecture. Compliance and visibility has decreased. Simply put, your enterprise is likely already part of the app economy. The question is, how are you managing your API traffic? Do you have a control point to manage that participation? Enterprise APIs are not science projects; they’re conducting enterprise-class business and require enterprise class visibility and control. What path can enterprises take to prepare for secure use of APIs? Dan Woods, Chief Analyst, CITO Research and Colleagues, May 2012
And the author goes on to describe how Cloud needs to move beyond point to point integration to introduce something that sounds very much like an ESB! So the notion that de facto Cloud practices should form the basis for EaaS sounds fanciful.

Yet despite this, I believe we should look closely at the idea of Everything as a Service. It’s the vision that CBDI and other pioneers painted years ago. What’s really required is a convergence of business and IT service concepts that would provide consistent views for all the various stakeholders in both IT and business domains including the service owner, business service designer, IT service architect, IT service designer, service security architect, provider, IT service manager, service broker, service consumer and so on and so forth. Today we have disparate service models in both business and IT that positively encourage silo disciplines.

To produce some form of unified service model wouldn’t be just an academic exercise.  First it might just facilitate better understanding of service architecture across business and IT stakeholders. Second it might assist in better service design, delivered services that are fully integrated with people, product, process and technology and engineered to deliver individualized services to customers that are architected to be responsive to business change!

But the place to start is to understand the needs and opportunities in a unified service model. This will leverage the Cloud, and hopefully cause more service owners to demand their services are first class software services in order to deliver better customer service. Maybe this will encourage NIST to revisit its reference architecture and give the service perspective a little more integrity.

In this month’s CBDI Journal we publish an article exploring how such a unified model might look, and the business value that it might deliver. We welcome feedback and comments.

Abstract: The Cloud movement is discussing the term Everything as a Service (EaaS or XaaS).  In principle this is a welcome development, encouraging business and IT participants to adopt services and service oriented concepts everywhere. However it appears that the E/XaaS initiative may be more about marketing than reality. In this article we suggest how this very promising idea might be developed to clarify Cloud Service taxonomy and deliver convergence of business and IT perspectives in a Unified Service Model.   

More Stories By David Sprott

David Sprott is a consultant, researcher and educator specializing in service oriented architecture, application modernization and cloud computing. Since 1997 David founded and led the well known think tank CBDI Forum providing unique research and guidance around loose coupled architecture, technologies and practices to F5000 companies and governments worldwide. As CEO of Everware-CBDI International a UK based corporation, he directs the global research and international consulting operations of the leading independent advisors on Service Oriented Application Modernization.

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