12 July 2006

The Web
Business Today

Oracle Grid and SOA – perfect combination

Kevin Attard

The world of application architectures is changing with the advent of service-oriented architectures (SOA) and this time it is not just industry hype. SOA is here and now. According to Gartner, 60 per cent of enterprises will use SOA as their guiding principle when creating applications and processes by 2008. Moreover, SOAs are transforming traditional monolithic applications into services that allow flexibility, reusability and on-demand access. The mindset that applications should reside on a dedicated server is shifting to an SOA-based model that creates a virtual and dynamic environment.
However, with the enthusiasm for SOAs reaching fever pitch in the world of IT, important considerations are being lost in the excitement. The biggest factor that is being overlooked is the actual control that organisations have on their enterprise resources. The ability to share applications across networks relies not only on the optimal software infrastructure – where SOA provides the framework – but also a more efficient control of enterprise resources than is typical in today’s computing environments.
To execute an IT function, a process and a resource is required. Until these two are synchronised then the vision of services on demand will remain just that – a vision. This is where the benefits of grid computing and SOA converge. The point where grid computing and SOA join will unlock the full potential of these symbiotic technologies. Indeed, the second edition of the Oracle Grid Index found a strong link between SOA and Grid Computing. According to respondents that were seen as thought leaders, 52 per cent believed that SOA is a pre-requisite for effective grid computing.
Yet, the concerns about the uptake of grid computing need to be dispelled as they are being adopted and not just in the scientific and academic environments that many believe. Oracle has seen grids being implemented at both large and mid-sized organisations such as Dell Europe, Deutsche Post, EA Games, MarkIT, Ordnance Survey and Trader Media.
In the epoch of SOA, managing the services will no longer be sufficient as CIOs will need to consider the data that is being used and therefore the management of the network and storage infrastructures. By combing SOA with grid, IT will be taking a complete view of their information management strategy and providing a greater level of service to the business.
Where IT would have been concerned with the performance of applications on a system, now they must consider thousands of services all running simultaneously on a variety of hardware platforms. So where is the benefit you might ask? Well, the difference is that by moving away from the monolithic architectures and utilising SOA and grid technologies, services are smaller, more controllable and easier to manage. Furthermore, it improves business continuity by being able to switch on new resources in the event of a system failure.
Grid computing provides the optimum foundation for SOA. By utilising grid technologies to create a high-performing and scaleable platform, organisations can build flexible and dynamic SOA-based applications for users that demand resources and new functionality on demand.
Whether a company is adopting grid or SOA, it would be advisable to consider the other element. Adopting an SOA-based approach greatly increases the ease, speed and effectiveness of a grid computing implementation, while on the other hand, an existing grid environment creates the ideal platform from which to underpin an SOA strategy.
In combination, they present a compelling proposition for information management.
The growth of SOAs and grid computing present an opportunity now for IT directors to redefine their computing environments. It is this very vision that Oracle is presenting to customers today. The combination of Oracle Database 10g and Oracle Fusion Middleware provide customers with technologies in which to build an SOA and grid computing infrastructure.
The whole industry is awash with SOA fever and the expected benefits.
But take a step back and organisations will see that without the dynamic infrastructure that grid provides SOA could become another unfulfilled promise of the IT industry.
We see an opportunity for local organisations to exploit these technologies to help manage their information more efficiently, reduce costs, improve data protection and ensure information is available on demand to users. By taking advantage of the symbiotic relationship of SOA and grid, tomorrow’s organisations will be more efficient, productive, innovative and competitive.

Kevin Attard is Oracle Malta Country Manager

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