By Chris Hale, Liaison Technologies
Enterprise systems are too rigid and inflexible—just as they were a decade ago. Why? Because the ERP inside-out approach to service-oriented architecture (SOA) has not delivered as promised. Meanwhile, increased competition and customer demands require differentiated business strategies and processes and more inter-firm collaboration—flexibility in the face of rapid change, if you will. ERP systems are definitely not keeping up. They fail terribly at delivering speed and flexibility.
At the same time, the cloud is providing businesses with more choices to use best-of-breed applications at a lower cost and with much more inherent flexibility. Today, this is mostly represented by SaaS applications, but increasingly it will include finer-grained web services to perform specific processes or functions. Thor Olavsrud at CIO.com stated in a recent article that “To fully leverage the disruptive potential of cloud without getting trapped in a web of integration complexity, IT organizations need to focus on what it means to rethink their business as a collection of services.” The fact is, for most organizations, adoption is no longer about cloud; it’s about ‘clouds’.
The cloud seems to be forcing a subtle shift from an inside-out to an outside-in perspective of SOA. We’re seeing an evolution of organizations who started with ERP vendors (who are still not ready), then looked to the SOA middleware vendors (who are too complex, expensive and internally focused), and, now are investigating Cloud Services Brokerages (CSBs). This is a new model that provides enterprise-class cloud integration and SOA functionality at a fraction of the cost, accommodates all known integration use cases, has minimal business process complexity, and permits an incremental (vs. big bang) approach.
Organizations that are ready to make the move to fully exploit cloud services need to adopt “services thinking” – because they are figuring out that cloud services is where the action (e.g., integration, interoperability) really is.