With the addition of loose coupling to Web services, service-oriented
architecture (SOA) has become a reality. Simultaneously, Grid computing
has come to life, enabling application, hardware and data-store
As the requirements for SOA continue to match the natural strengths of
Grid computing, the two models are headed for a de facto merger.
There are many definitions of SOA in the marketplace, but all share
common underpinnings. Key concepts include loosely coupled services
(with simple APIs and messaging formats), abstraction, virtualization,
modularity and an underlying service management infrastructure.
In its simplest form, SOA involves exposing reusable software modules
as Web services, which are combined in a loosely coupled fashion to
create composite business applications. However, for this vision of SOA
to yield business value, more is required in the way of enabling
infrastructure. A successful SOA deployment satisfies the following
- Delivers IT as a service: IT provisioning should evolve from a
cost-center model to that of a variable-cost utility, that can be
evaluated against service-level agreements (SLAs) and key-performance
- Delivers service as needed, when needed: The goal for a SOA is to
be application centric and demand driven. Application service requests
are assigned to the most appropriate resources in the virtualized
resource pool, based on the organization's required SLAs, cost
structure, policies and priorities.
- Enhances critical business systems: A true SOA optimizes the
performance, reliability and total cost of ownership (TCO) of the IT
infrastructure. Key attributes include flexibility, resilience,
scalability, efficiency, utilization, security, accounting and billing,
support and SLA compliance.
- Simplifies service delivery and consumption: Substituting
console-level parameters for coding, a unified administrative dashboard
simplifies monitoring and control of service configuration and
- Minimizes service programming and deployment complexity:
Underlying infrastructure takes active responsibility for managing
quality of service (QoS) and enforcing service access and execution
- Maintains service interactions based on industry standards:
Service APIs and messaging formats are simple, universal and easily
extensible (e.g., WSDL, SOAP, XML and BPEL).
- Virtualizes the application, hardware resource and data layers:
Services can be simple, modular, efficient and reusable to the extent
that an underlying application execution environment abstracts the
various distributed resource layers and automatically manages
The Optimal Grid Infrastructure
IT architectures of simple and reusable software agents (i.e.
services), and are provisioned dynamically to satisfy potentially
unpredictable application consumption, requires a solid foundation -- a
comprehensive service application platform.
Aligned with SOA objectives, a Grid infrastructure can address this
need by serving as a virtual application fabric and service execution
platform focused on application, hardware and data virtualization.
As the virtualization fabric (Figure 1), any abstraction not
accomplished by the Grid layer must be programmed into individual
services and their business application consumers. Abstracting service
consumption and the service execution environment removes these
considerations from the realm of programming to that of console-level
Figure 1: Service-oriented architecture with a Grid layer as the virtualization fabric.
To serve effectively in an SOA, a fully functional "service" must
include a managed execution environment, monitor and alert functions,
SLA tracking, accounting capabilities, easy-to-use interfaces,
messaging exchange protocols and dynamic provisioning behavior -- all
enabled by the Grid layer in its capacity as a service platform (Figure
Figure 2: Grid layer as a service platform.
Accelerating the Shift to SOA with Grid
By distributing application workload across shared system and data
resources, the service execution platform inherent in an effective Grid
infrastructure drives new levels of business performance.
This virtualized infrastructure allows applications to non-invasively
leverage heterogeneous resources across the enterprise. It also manages
the execution of services as required to meet the service levels and
cost structures of the business.
The result is a service fabric that can dramatically accelerate an
organization's shift toward SOA. Eight of the key benefits that
enterprises can achieve by deploying an effective Grid infrastructure
to support their SOA strategies are:
- Application performance: Some Grid users have documented 25 to 50
times improvement in application performance speed, measured by
response time and throughput benchmarks.
- Resilience and reliability: With guaranteed task execution and
mechanisms to ensure recovery and migration in the event of system
error, application failure rates can drop by up to 90 percent or more.
- Flexibility and API independence: Forming an application
execution environment, the Grid layer supports a wide variety of
clients that can be quickly virtualized, including Java, .NET, SOAP,
C++ and binary executables.
- Service-oriented control: Grid enables the global management of
services, and administrative control of operational parameters,
including policy-driven service, resource assignment and workload
- Dynamic provisioning: With a dynamic, adaptive load balancing
approach, resources can be added or removed without impact to running
services. In contrast to other tools, a Grid layer optimizes
utilization by dynamically provisioning these actions within
milliseconds vs. minutes or hours.
- Rapid development and deployment: Providing a standards-based,
flexible and intuitive programming model, the Grid layer can simplify
development and streamline deployment.
- Usage-based accounting: With centralized administration tools,
the Grid infrastructure can help IT managers establish variable cost,
"pay as you go" charge back systems and measure service level agreement
- TCO reduction: With all of these benefits together --
performance, utilization, reliability, flexibility, service-oriented
control, dynamic provisioning, rapid development and deployment, and
centralized accounting -- Grid can yield a more efficient,
Today's global corporations are staggering under the burden of complex
and costly IT infrastructure that is often unable to respond to the
demands of the business. When faced with the need to increase scale,
improve application performance and improve QoS, corporate environments
are exploring Grid computing and application virtualization as proven
and cost-effective technology strategies.
The SOA and Grid computing models are highly complementary. In a
combined SOA and Grid approach, applications are deployed as loosely
coupled Web services to be consumed and reused by different users and
applications with Grid management tools.
In its capacity as a service platform, an ideal Grid-computing
infrastructure virtualizes the service execution environment, manages
every aspect of service execution automatically and virtualizes system
and data-level resources. These system and data resources appear to the
application layer as aggregated, shared pools, which are dynamically
assigned to satisfy application demand.
In the service-execution layer, the Grid brokers business application
service requests, reconciling application demand parameters with
resource supply considerations at runtime, using built-in dynamic
provisioning and adaptive load balancing mechanisms. The result is an
optimal execution environment, or service platform, for Web services
and business logic.
Whether or not the supported business applications are inherently
service-oriented, Grid infrastructure software promotes migration to
lower-cost commodity architectures, which deliver exponential scale and
price/performance gains. At the same time, irrespective of IT migration
plans, such software wrings optimal performance and utilization numbers
from existing resources. The TCO benefits derived from these two
factors are enormous.
About Kelly Vizzini
As chief marketing officer at DataSynapse, Kelly Vizzini works to
leverage the company's existing successes and domain expertise to build
a brand identity that positions DataSynapse as the de facto standard in
the U.S. and European markets for distributed computing solutions.
Prior to her role at DataSynapse, Vizzini held marketing positions at
several software companies including Prescient, Optum, Metasys and
InfoSystems. She holds a bachelor's degree in journalism and
communications from the University of South Carolina.