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The Open Group Releases Standards for SOA Architects, Cloud Service Providers

by Richard Seroter on Jan 30, 2012 |

The Open Group recently published three standards that aid organizations that are building infrastructure-as-a-service offerings and service oriented architectures. In addition to releasing the Service Oriented Architecture Reference Architecture (SOA RA) and Service Oriented Cloud Computing Infrastructure Framework (SOCCI), the Open Group also updated their Open Group Service Integration Maturity Model (OSIMM). In concert, these standards provide expert advice in the form of best practices, questionnaires, and templates for SOA and cloud-scale infrastructure architecture.

The SOA RA is a nearly two hundred page guide that includes significant input from IBM, among other technology partners. Architects are meant to use this guide as a blueprint for assessing, designing and implementing service-oriented solutions. In essence, this standard answer the question “what is an SOA?” and provides a complete logical design of a service oriented architecture. The core of this standard focuses on nine thoroughly described layers, or capability areas, that make up a SOA solution stack. The Open Group describes five horizontal layers that address the functional nature of the solution and four vertical, cross cutting layers that span functional layers. The horizontal layers are made up of the Operational System Layer that includes the runtime and deployment infrastructure, Service Component Layer that holds the technical and functional components used by services, Service Layer that hosts all the services used by the SOA, Business Process Layer that acts as an orchestration tier across services, and the Consumer Layer that provides presentation controllers, caching and other services that assist outside parties when interacting with the SOA. The vertical layers defined by the Open Group include the Integration Layer, Quality of Service Layer, Information Layer, and Governance Layer. These layers include the capabilities to expose services to outside parties, monitor and manage the services, expose and validate data through services, and apply policies and standards to SOA solutions. Overall, this guide is positioned as a tool for organizations adopting or advancing their SOA and for software vendors building SOA-friendly components.

The SOCCI represents the first cloud standard authored by the Open Group and the first industry standard for infrastructure-as-a-service offerings. The Open Group identifies the need for this standard by referencing analysis of the widespread infrastructure inefficiency in the ever-growing number of data centers worldwide. The Open Group describes SOCCI as follows:

An enabling framework of a well-defined, integrated set of service-oriented components is essential for infrastructure to be provided as a service. Service-Oriented Cloud Computing Infrastructure (SOCCI) is the realization of this framework for the cloud.

In addition, they define SOCCI as such:

SOCCI can be defined as service-oriented, utility-based, manageable, scalable on-demand infrastructure that supports essential cloud characteristics, service, and deployment models. In other words, SOCCI describes the essentials for implementing and managing an Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) environment.

The SOCCI framework defines a series of building blocks which are segmented into Business and Operational components. The Business components include support for tracking usage (“Metering Manager”), charging consumers for their usage (“Billing Manager”) and geographically allocating resources (“Location Manager”). The Operational components enable delivery of infrastructure services and include emulation of physical infrastructure (“Virtualization Manager”), service monitoring and auto-recovery from failure (“Monitoring and Event Manager”), infrastructure optimization (“Provisioning Manager”), ensuring availability of needed resources (“Capacity and Performance Manager”), and configuration support for devices in the environment (“Configuration Manager”). The SOCCI framework document concludes with a brief case study that demonstrates how an organization can optimized their infrastructure delivery using this framework.

The OSIMM represents the final standard included in this release by the Open Group. OSIMM, now in its second version, provides a framework for assessing the SOA maturity level of an organization. The Open Group defines the OSIMM thusly:

The Open Group SOA Integration Maturity Model (OSIMM) provides consultants and IT practitioners with a means to assess an organization’s Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) maturity level. It defines a process to create a roadmap for incremental adoption which maximizes business benefits at each stage along the way.

OSIMM defines seven aspects of an organization that get assessed. These include the business architecture (“Business”), structure of the organization (“Organization & Governance”), processes used for IT and business transformation (“Method”), application development style (“Application”), architectural practices (“Architecture”), information management (“Information”), and infrastructure support (”Information and Management”). In addition, the OSIMM outlines seven maturity levels, arranged from least mature to most mature, called Silo, Integrated, Componentized, Service, Composite Services, Virtualized Services, and Dynamically Re-configured Services.  The seven organization aspects and seven maturity levels are included in a single matrix where each intersecting cell represents a description of the maturity level at that point. For instance, if a business architecture is considered siloed, that cell of the matrix holds the value “Isolated Business Line Driven.” In order to discover the maturity of an organization across each aspect, the OSIMM contains a list of assessment questions and a scoring system for arriving at a maturity level.

All of these documents compliment each other and provide a helpful basis of knowledge when creating services, assessing SOA maturity and applying those principles to the creation of a service-based infrastructure environment.

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