There’s a difference between automation and orchestration, and knowing which one you’re really doing is half the battle in achieving a truly dynamic data center.

Randy Heffner on CIO.Com wrote an excellent article on SOA and its value, “SOA: Think Business Transformation, Not Code Reuse.” The problem I had with the article was not in any way related to its advice, conclusions, or suggestions. The problem I had was that I kept thinking about how perfectly much of his article could be applied to data center orchestration, operational transformation, and automation. Simply replace “SOA” with “orchestration”, “software reuse” with “automation”, and “business” with “operational” and you’ve pretty much got what needs to be said. Here, I’ll show you what I mean:

quotes The worst CIO CTO misunderstanding about service-oriented architecture (SOA) orchestration is thinking of it as only another technical initiative for automation software reuse. Although SOA's reuse orchestration’s automation potential is real and good, its business operational impact goes much further: In Forrester surveys, 38 percent of Global 2000 SOA orchestration users say they are using it for strategic business operational transformation. SOA's Orchestration’s true source of power is in its business operational design models, not its technology — and this means that SOA orchestration provides a broad foundation for a much larger shift in business operational technology (BT) architecture that goes far beyond SOA orchestration itself. By correctly understanding orchestration SOA, CIOs CTOs can lead their organizations on a solid and well-managed path toward a strategic technology future and greater business value.

This is true for SOA, and it’s true for cloud computing, where it is the orchestration of the data center infrastructure that brings the value to the table through making more efficient the operational processes codified to automate and integrate systems.