My photo

Bill St. Arnaud is a consultant and research engineer who works with clients around the world on a variety of subjects such as next generation Internet networks and developing practical solutions to reduce CO2 emissions such as free broadband and dynamic charging of eVehicles. He is an author of many papers and articles on these topics and is a frequent guest speaker. For more details on my research interests see

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

The Grand unification of Grids, SOA, workflow, Amazon EC2 and Oracle

This is excellent article showing how BPEL workflow integrates SOA applications across multiple utility computing facilities. I think these type of platform architectures are going to transform academic research and business practices. The EC2 concept of instantiating computing services as a web service, is very similar to the CANARIE concept of instantiating IP networks through a web service. See In the near future I suspect we all sorts of physical resources such as computing, networks, instruments, etc instantiated as a web service and linked together through BPEL compositions. Some excerpts -- BSA]

The union of Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) and Oracle SOA Suite is a match made in heaven. Recently, we tested Amazon EC2 by marrying components of Oracle SOA Suite with EC2 to demonstrate how utility computing and SOA are shaking the foundations of current IT provisioning, development, deployment and maintenance models. This article examines how SOA technologies enable utility computing to move beyond the vision stage and become a reality.

Amazon EC2 is a massive farm of Linux servers at your finger tips. It enables you to bring up a single server or many server instances -- all installed with preconfigured Linux images -- with a single command. You can use pre-packed Linux images provided by EC2 -- public images are currently available that include Apache and MySQL -- or build new images and upload them to Amazon's S3 storage service.

The recently released Oracle SOA Suite 10g is a packaged set of standards-based components for enabling web services-based SOA. Oracle SOA Suite covers web services development, orchestration, monitoring, and security. Within the SOA Suite, Oracle BPEL Process Manager orchestrates transactions across disparate applications within and across corporate boundaries. But across all such technologies, what is important in the context of this article is that they be Web-service enabled and support a grid computing model where several low-cost servers can be deployed in a cluster to provide scalability and high availability.

Web services-based SOA has fundamentally changed how applications integrate. Add on top of that Amazon EC2 to host your business operations, and you get a potent combination. The significant, yet unnoticed breakthrough of Amazon EC2 is in its ability to spawn up a server instance by a mere web-service call. In addition to a command line interface, EC2 provides a detailed provisioning WSDL that can be used by any web-services application to dynamically control (e.g., run, terminate, authorize) Linux instances within the Amazon Cloud.

This EC2 provisioning enables WSDL-aware products to readily call into EC2 through SOAP-based messaging. Because of this approach, SOA platform products and orchestration languages like BPEL can now be extended beyond their typical application development role to also manage infrastructure provisioning. Now the same components which run business applications can also control dynamic provisioning and maintenance of the very physical infrastructure that they are deployed on. With Amazon EC2, for the first time, SOA components are aware of and in control of their host machines and can clone new instances of themselves based on environmental factors such as user load, available resources and cost.

Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud is an ideal hosting environment for commodity SOA components. Web services-based administration and provisioning of Linux servers on-the-fly heralds a new era of dynamic traffic management. With such flexible SOA components, reliable, resilient, scalable and high-performance SOA deployments can be built on utility computing infrastructure that lives outside corporate boundaries. Some simple enhancements to the Amazon Web services API and open collaboration with the developer community as well as with commercial software vendors could position Amazon EC2 as the utility computing platform of choice. Overtime, business models, service level agreements, and regulatory requirements will all find a happy balance to optimize IT assets' efficiency. We anticipate that the Amazon EC2 cloud coupled with grid-enabled software like Oracle SOA Suite will help realize IT gestalt: The whole is greater than the sum of the parts. At the same time, the ability to share computing pools across many users can smooth out the issues of peak loads for much more efficient use of resources. This will enable an effect which could be called "economic
gestalt": the whole costs much less than the sum of the parts .