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Application Development in the Clouds - Mike Vizard and John Michelsen

Mike Vizard at eWeek recently hosted a podcast with ITKO???s John Michelsen, on "Application Development in the Clouds." In this conversation, John and Mike talk about how cloud computing is going to upend the way IT organizations think about SOA and application development in general. Mike started by mentioning the increased number of dependencies that SaaS brings to SOA testing. John said Mike really nailed the problem - it is something we are seeing in every engagement that relies on third party or shared services environments. The traditional waterfall method, and its assumptions, are now all undermined, and so much rethinking needs to be done. But the effort is worth it. Mike, as seen on the left, next discussed the increased reuse happening in SOA. This broadens the need for trust. John, as seen below on the right, said that SOA requires good governance policies. In most organizations vertical trust already exists, as teams within groups and authority domains inherently trust each other.Now with the need to go across the enterprise, and even to third parties and partners, horizontal trust comes into play and this is usually not in place. Service level governance can handle this issue and there are good frameworks available (in the form of SOA Registry/Repository solutions like Centrasite and Systinet). However, each organization will have to customize these frameworks for their unique environment, and think about how those teams can have a common way to validate that expectations are being met. John added that SOA Governance needs to extend to the consumption of services, and this is where most organizations fall short. There is "no free beer" in consuming services - so if you have an intended workflow, that also needs to be validated. After all, is the business use case realistic, and how will the provider of services be compensated? Mike asked about how these services be validated on a continuous basis, as the services may be constantly upgraded after deployment. John replied that LISA includes continuous validation since many applications allow for ongoing modifications. You need to test for the "unintended consequences" of these modifications.Mike asked the need for visibility into services. John responded that this need is at the Behavior level to see if the desired behavior remains the same after changes in the application. This is where continuous validation can generate trust and allow for SOA in business critical functions. How much time needs to devoted to validation, versus building applications? If there is too much time required for validation, developer productivity falls down. John said that this is where automated testing can play a key role and it needs to address dependencies. Mike asked how developers can be encouraged to adopt this new thinking around continuous testing. Will a new generation of developers be required? John said that this approach is more evolutionary than revolutionary. However, most test organizations need to think in a new way. Fortunately, there is greater awareness of this need than was in place a few years ago, when much of the SOA Governance conversation was only around Structural testing, for WSDL standards, WS-Security, WS-I etc., which are very important, but just one piece of the puzzle. The idea of design, change and runtime policies that incorporate behavioral and performance Policies and SLAs are now in focus.  I have touched on the highlights. Go to the complete podcast for the details.

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