Welcome!

Agile Computing Authors: Dana Gardner, Igor Drobiazko, Elizabeth White, Liz McMillan, Pat Romanski

Related Topics: Release Management , Microservices Expo, Adobe Flex, Agile Computing, @CloudExpo

Release Management : Blog Post

Don’t Get Stuck in a Cloud

How easy is it to get in? And how costly is it to get out?

Mysterious, comforting, scary, and attractive are all possible adjectives to describe a cloud. Interestingly enough, this is true of all kinds of clouds, from the meteorological to the computing. During the last few years, we have a seen a proliferation of clouds forming from every corner of the Internet. Nowadays, it is very rare to see any Internet technology presentation without at least a few clouds.

So is cloud computing simply vaporware, or something tangible?

While the name might be “buzzy”, cloud computing is in fact a real phenomenon and does create great technological and business value. In fact, cloud computing is another step in the evolution of computing abstraction. First, hardware got abstracted with operating systems, then the user interface with the browser, and now, with cloud computing, the network is abstracted. Simply put, cloud computing allows one to build network applications without having to worry about the network.

So far, so good; but what is the catch?

As occurs often in software, the catch pertains to the openness of the technology and how locked in a user might become. Even the most open technologies have some degree of “lock-in.” The challenge is to mitigate the value of the service with the risk associated with being locked-in with a single provider.

There are only two important questions to consider, when assessing the lock-in of any software solution. How easy is it to get in? And how costly is it to get out?

You will receive much help from vendors to answer the first question, but you might find yourself on your own for the second one.

The challenge of cloud computing is that there are not yet any standards, and therefore, no vendor can claim to be “Cloud-4-Enterprise compliant.” However, the good news is that most vendors try to appear as familiar as possible and to reduce the learning curve as much as possible.

The degree of lock-in also depends upon the type of cloud used. Below are the three main types of clouds, with their respective benefits and risks:

From the bottom up:

1) Infrastructure Cloud
The infrastructure cloud virtualizes the hardware and network parts of the system. This includes the server hardware, operating systems, network, and storage. Amazon has opportunistically and successfully established itself as the leader of this market.

In this scenario, the lock-in factor is rather low, since application developers still maintain full control of the technologies they utilize and can replicate it on any system. Moving out of an infrastructure cloud will incur an administration cost, but should not significantly impact the application code.

The downside of this approach is that, while it tremendously reduces the system management cost, this option still require some system management. For example, an application must be architected to scale multiple instances, and these instances must also be managed.

2) Platform Cloud
Platform clouds, such as the Google App Engine and Force.com, take the next step in abstraction and offer a complete virtualization of the application platform. Developers must only worry about the code of the application, and the cloud will complete the rest of the task.

The great advantage of this approach is that it reduces, almost to zero, any system administration, and the application can scale seamlessly across multiple instances, without requiring any management or special handling.

However, the seamless scalability has a price. To provide virtually infinite scalability, the platform cloud often restricts the environment in which the application can be written. For example, Force.com possesses its own Java-like language and custom MVC model. Though this is very powerful and complete, once an application is coded in Force.com, it must remain on Force.com forever. The Google App Engine is a more standard approach, as it does support Java. As of today, however, the data access layer supports only JDO and not the more commonly used SQL interface. This allows the Google App Engine to scale very effectively the data layer of the application. However, developers must rewrite their data-object layers with a less common interface (although JDO is still a standard and can be ported out of Google App Engine).

3) Application Cloud
The application cloud provides a hosted environment for third party applications to embed themselves within the service applications. For example, the application cloud allows the developer to extend Google apps or Salesforce.com functionalities.

Application clouds tend to be combined with platform clouds to enable deeper integration into the application. For example, while Saleforce.com does allow foreign application integration, it exposes many more integration points to applications hosted by Force.com. Consequently, to fully embed an application within Salesforce.com, employing Force.com might be the right decision. An option to mitigate risk is to develop only the integration points in the cloud specific platform and to keep the rest of the application as portable as possible.

Despite the high degree of vendor lock-in, the application cloud provides unparallel value because it allows third-party applications to fully leverage the service applications ecosystem.

Thus, as we can see, each type of cloud features both pros and cons. The good news is that as cloud computing becomes more popular, standards will emerge, and application portability will become a reality. For now, however, the most important thing is to be aware of the associated risks and to plan in accordance. In some cases, the benefits might surpass the risks, and in some other instances, the risks might not be worthwhile. In any case, do not believe the marketing slides and make your own experiments to truly assess the value and risk of each option.

Source: Don't Get Stuck in a Cloud - Bits and Buzz

More Stories By Jeremy Chone

Jeremy Chone is chief technology officer (CTO) and vice president of development and operations at iJuris, an innovative startup offering a rich Web application for lawyer collaboration and document assembly. In his role as CTO and vice president of development and operations, Jeremy is responsible for overseeing the company’s strategic direction for the iJuris service and technology as well as managing the service architecture, development, and operations.

Chone has more than 10 years of technical and business experience in major software companies such as Netscape, Oracle and Adobe where he has successfully aligned technology visions with business opportunities that deliver tangible results. In addition to a combination of technical and business acumen, Jeremy also possesses an in-depth knowledge of Rich Internet Application technologies, as well as holding many patents in the mobile and enterprise collaboration areas.

See Jeremy Chone's full biography

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


@ThingsExpo Stories
IoT device adoption is growing at staggering rates, and with it comes opportunity for developers to meet consumer demand for an ever more connected world. Wireless communication is the key part of the encompassing components of any IoT device. Wireless connectivity enhances the device utility at the expense of ease of use and deployment challenges. Since connectivity is fundamental for IoT device development, engineers must understand how to overcome the hurdles inherent in incorporating multipl...
Machine Learning helps make complex systems more efficient. By applying advanced Machine Learning techniques such as Cognitive Fingerprinting, wind project operators can utilize these tools to learn from collected data, detect regular patterns, and optimize their own operations. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Stuart Gillen, Director of Business Development at SparkCognition, will discuss how research has demonstrated the value of Machine Learning in delivering next generation analytics to im...
Manufacturers are embracing the Industrial Internet the same way consumers are leveraging Fitbits – to improve overall health and wellness. Both can provide consistent measurement, visibility, and suggest performance improvements customized to help reach goals. Fitbit users can view real-time data and make adjustments to increase their activity. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Mark Bernardo Professional Services Leader, Americas, at GE Digital, will discuss how leveraging the Industrial Interne...
The paradigm has shifted. A Gartner survey shows that 43% of organizations are using or plan to implement the Internet of Things in 2016. However, not just a handful of companies are still using the old-style ad-hoc trial-and-error ways, unaware of the critical barriers, paint points, traps, and hidden roadblocks. How can you become a winner? In his session at @ThingsExpo, Tony Shan will present a methodical approach to guide the holistic adoption and enablement of IoT implementations. This ov...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Stratoscale, the software company developing the next generation data center operating system, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Stratoscale is revolutionizing the data center with a zero-to-cloud-in-minutes solution. With Stratoscale’s hardware-agnostic, Software Defined Data Center (SDDC) solution to store everything, run anything and scale everywhere...
Angular 2 is a complete re-write of the popular framework AngularJS. Programming in Angular 2 is greatly simplified – now it's a component-based well-performing framework. This immersive one-day workshop at 18th Cloud Expo, led by Yakov Fain, a Java Champion and a co-founder of the IT consultancy Farata Systems and the product company SuranceBay, will provide you with everything you wanted to know about Angular 2.
Digital payments using wearable devices such as smart watches, fitness trackers, and payment wristbands are an increasing area of focus for industry participants, and consumer acceptance from early trials and deployments has encouraged some of the biggest names in technology and banking to continue their push to drive growth in this nascent market. Wearable payment systems may utilize near field communication (NFC), radio frequency identification (RFID), or quick response (QR) codes and barcodes...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Men & Mice, the leading global provider of DNS, DHCP and IP address management overlay solutions, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. The Men & Mice Suite overlay solution is already known for its powerful application in heterogeneous operating environments, enabling enterprises to scale without fuss. Building on a solid range of diverse platform support,...
You deployed your app with the Bluemix PaaS and it's gaining some serious traction, so it's time to make some tweaks. Did you design your application in a way that it can scale in the cloud? Were you even thinking about the cloud when you built the app? If not, chances are your app is going to break. Check out this webcast to learn various techniques for designing applications that will scale successfully in Bluemix, for the confidence you need to take your apps to the next level and beyond.
The increasing popularity of the Internet of Things necessitates that our physical and cognitive relationship with wearable technology will change rapidly in the near future. This advent means logging has become a thing of the past. Before, it was on us to track our own data, but now that data is automatically available. What does this mean for mHealth and the "connected" body? In her session at @ThingsExpo, Lisa Calkins, CEO and co-founder of Amadeus Consulting, will discuss the impact of wea...
Whether your IoT service is connecting cars, homes, appliances, wearable, cameras or other devices, one question hangs in the balance – how do you actually make money from this service? The ability to turn your IoT service into profit requires the ability to create a monetization strategy that is flexible, scalable and working for you in real-time. It must be a transparent, smoothly implemented strategy that all stakeholders – from customers to the board – will be able to understand and comprehe...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Ericsson has been named “Gold Sponsor” of SYS-CON's @ThingsExpo, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York, New York. Ericsson is a world leader in the rapidly changing environment of communications technology – providing equipment, software and services to enable transformation through mobility. Some 40 percent of global mobile traffic runs through networks we have supplied. More than 1 billion subscribers around the world re...
So, you bought into the current machine learning craze and went on to collect millions/billions of records from this promising new data source. Now, what do you do with them? Too often, the abundance of data quickly turns into an abundance of problems. How do you extract that "magic essence" from your data without falling into the common pitfalls? In her session at @ThingsExpo, Natalia Ponomareva, Software Engineer at Google, will provide tips on how to be successful in large scale machine lear...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Fusion, a leading provider of cloud services, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Fusion, a leading provider of integrated cloud solutions to small, medium and large businesses, is the industry's single source for the cloud. Fusion's advanced, proprietary cloud service platform enables the integration of leading edge solutions in the cloud, including cloud...
There is an ever-growing explosion of new devices that are connected to the Internet using “cloud” solutions. This rapid growth is creating a massive new demand for efficient access to data. And it’s not just about connecting to that data anymore. This new demand is bringing new issues and challenges and it is important for companies to scale for the coming growth. And with that scaling comes the need for greater security, gathering and data analysis, storage, connectivity and, of course, the...
The IETF draft standard for M2M certificates is a security solution specifically designed for the demanding needs of IoT/M2M applications. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Brian Romansky, VP of Strategic Technology at TrustPoint Innovation, will explain how M2M certificates can efficiently enable confidentiality, integrity, and authenticity on highly constrained devices.
In his session at @ThingsExpo, Chris Klein, CEO and Co-founder of Rachio, will discuss next generation communities that are using IoT to create more sustainable, intelligent communities. One example is Sterling Ranch, a 10,000 home development that – with the help of Siemens – will integrate IoT technology into the community to provide residents with energy and water savings as well as intelligent security. Everything from stop lights to sprinkler systems to building infrastructures will run ef...
We’ve worked with dozens of early adopters across numerous industries and will debunk common misperceptions, which starts with understanding that many of the connected products we’ll use over the next 5 years are already products, they’re just not yet connected. With an IoT product, time-in-market provides much more essential feedback than ever before. Innovation comes from what you do with the data that the connected product provides in order to enhance the customer experience and optimize busi...
Increasing IoT connectivity is forcing enterprises to find elegant solutions to organize and visualize all incoming data from these connected devices with re-configurable dashboard widgets to effectively allow rapid decision-making for everything from immediate actions in tactical situations to strategic analysis and reporting. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Shikhir Singh, Senior Developer Relations Manager at Sencha, will discuss how to create HTML5 dashboards that interact with IoT devic...
Artificial Intelligence has the potential to massively disrupt IoT. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, AJ Abdallat, CEO of Beyond AI, will discuss what the five main drivers are in Artificial Intelligence that could shape the future of the Internet of Things. AJ Abdallat is CEO of Beyond AI. He has over 20 years of management experience in the fields of artificial intelligence, sensors, instruments, devices and software for telecommunications, life sciences, environmental monitoring, process...