Understanding SOA in cloud computing and its key advantages

8 min read
Juned Ghanchi

Service oriented architecture (SOA) has become popular across enterprise app projects as businesses need agile and proactive IT (information technology) infrastructure for low-cost, high-performance operations. In particular, SOA in the cloud computing environment has emerged as the ideal answer to help businesses:

  • Interconnect their operational processes
  • Streamline information
  • Improve resource output

While the cloud offered businesses the freedom from the restrictions and constraints of centralized IT infrastructure, the SOA further widened the possibilities. SOA makes it possible to easily access loosely connected, highly diversified, and adaptable web-based services for enterprise (i.e. for profit) software applications.  

SOA eases the app developer’s job by making software components reusable and interoperable.

Throughout this post, we would like to understand:

  • How SOA in cloud computing works
  • The different architectures under SOA
  • What benefits it delivers to enterprise web applications

Related: How scalability in cloud computing could benefit your business

What is SOA in cloud computing?  

Let's start from the basics. Service oriented architecture is a type of architecture for aligning different IT services with the business goals of companies.

The architecture allows app developers to meet the evolving IT service and feature requirements quickly and with the least effort.

Ultimately this helps:

  • Automate processes
  • Integrate tools and applications
  • Allow faster and effective coordination
  • Lower costs

The key building blocks of service oriented architecture include:

Computer technicians sitting side by side

Service providers: The service provider decides the parameters, constraints, reasons, security, accessibility, and change requirements and updates the service registry accordingly.

Service brokers: The service broker, or the person handling implementation, makes the services available based on the service registry.

Service consumers: By detecting the registry entries, the service consumer at the end of the pipeline can align the required services with the service provider.  

SOA in cloud computing allows flexibility in providing on-demand IT resources, allowing businesses to use the same advantages of SOA architecture through the cloud environment.

Through SOA in cloud computing, businesses can finally have the flexibility of accessing loosely connected on-demand IT services beyond the firewall of the company's IT infrastructure.   

The key benefits of SOA 

We have understood that enterprise software app makers prefer to embrace SOA, particularly for its flexibility, ease of access, fast-paced operation, and simplicity of maintenance.

Any existing system has the least impact when integrating a new software application just because of this architecture.

On the other hand, many popular ERP (enterprise resource planning) and warehouse management systems in the market already adhere to SOA architecture, making things easier for new service integration.  

Let's have a quick look at some key advantages of SOA.  

  • Seamless integration: SOA allows seamless and flexible integration of on-demand service specifications, resulting in lower cost and optimum transparency.
  • Reduced complication: Since particular service specifications can be integrated separately as per requirement, you have fewer complexities and dependence issues to handle.
  • On-demand integration: In SOA, the service specifications remain completely platform-independent, allowing on-demand flexible integration by using a common language.
  • Single service for multiple applications: The loosely coupled services can be integrated with many applications without impacting any of them.
  • Layered development approach: The SOA architecture allows integration of services in layers, allowing parallel and simultaneous development.
  • Ease of access: Because the architecture caters to layered and loosely coupled on-demand services, the service requesters enjoy easy
  • Performance-optimized: Because services have a low footprint and are independent, they can be easily debugged, ensuring optimum performance.

The outcome of SOA in the context of enterprise app projects needs to be emphasized separately. This architecture, in multiple ways, helps modern enterprise IT solutions to become:

  • Agile
  • Proactive
  • Efficient
  • Scalable
  • Performance-optimized
  • Cost-effective

Let's explain the positive outcomes of SOA in the context of enterprise IT solutions and services.  

Efficiency and scalability for business operation  

Thanks to SOA, a whole array of modular service components in a process can be synced to ensure optimum efficiency.

For example, in the context of warehousing, multiple service components corresponding to picking, putaway, inventory management, etc., can be organized as per the evolving specific warehousing requirements.

The synced information across these service components can easily be shared and integrated with another external software application, such as an ERP automation suite.

This ensures fast-paced third-party software integration without impacting the existing app and ideation modules.  

For handling the missing links or any other integration bottlenecks, a new custom modular component can be created through the common interface. Based on the integration challenges, such as feature compatibility, SOA allows the creation of new modular service components.  

Computer screen showing lines of codeThe power of standardized and widely accepted architecture 

By representing a widely popular and adopted architecture, SOA has already set the standard of modularity for common enterprise applications such as ERP, CRM (customer relationship management), SCM (supply chain management), etc.

With the ability to sync multiple processes and their corresponding information, there are fewer technical challenges in implementing third-party enterprise systems.  

Because of this widely accepted and integration-ready architecture, businesses no longer need to be buggered by incompatible programming languages, middleware, or databases.

With SOA in the cloud environment, the data can now be transferred through the web, while minimizing the negative impact of outdated components on the implementation.  

Lightning speed for syncing information across processes  

Operational silos resulting from the slower transfer of information are always a major concern for IT-enabled businesses still using legacy software based upon traditional architecture.

This is another area where SOA brings a new value proposition by effortlessly syncing information from different processes.  

By leveraging the advantages of syncing information across processes, the operational time cycle and response time for end-users or customers can be reduced to a minimum.  

Long-term IT cost reduction  

Another key reason behind the widespread SOA adoption is significant cost reduction for software development, maintenance, and upgrades.

Since SOA ensures optimum modularity through loosely coupled services, updating the changes and value additions can be faster, resulting in less downtime.  

Modular functional components can be changed as per the requirement, while other parts continue to function as usual.

This independent nature of components removes all your worries regarding software functioning after any changes are incorporated. Ultimately, this ensures reduced cost of maintenance and upgrades of enterprise software.  

Related: Best internet domain names for technology sector

What are the three different types of SOA?  

SOA over the years has evolved, and we have seen several models for this architecture emerge.

  1. The first model allowing you to implement SOA was RPC.
  2. The web services model involves creating a rigorous architecture to help remote management of software and its components.
  3. Another model that emerged in recent years is called REST or representational state transfer. This model allows sharing the components over the web by using cloud services.

The REST model is the more popular of the last two models, as it ensures optimum accessibility and ease of implementation.  

Examples of SOA-based functions in the context of web and mobile apps   

Service oriented architecture is used through many applications, whether for the web or mobile OS platforms. How web and mobile APIs allow interactions among different services shows us examples of SOA-based app functionalities.  

  • SOA is the information architecture that allows many mobile apps to use the device's inbuilt GPS.
  • Similarly, through SOA-based APIs, healthcare services can easily be integrated.
  • Through SOA, virtual storage of data and content can be made accessible to the apps.

A whole array of SOA examples can allow web and mobile apps to integrate and deliver additional features and functionalities.  

Developer sketching a mobile user interfaceDifference between service oriented architecture and service oriented computing (SOC)

As mentioned, service oriented architecture refers to an architecture focusing on the alignment of diverse business-relevant services to achieve a common goal.

Service oriented computing (SOC), on the other hand, is a distributed computing approach based upon SOA principles, protocols, and concepts.  

So, SOA is SOC's architecture for distributed computing environments. Both are interlinked, with the SOA being SOC's core concept and principle.  

Parting comments on service oriented architecture in cloud computing

Service oriented architecture coupled with modern cloud platforms is here to stay and thrive. As enterprise software applications are embracing agile and modular development approaches, SOA in the cloud fits in as the right answer for them.  


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