Welcome!

Agile Computing Authors: Elizabeth White, ManageEngine IT Matters, Liz McMillan, Yeshim Deniz, Carmen Gonzalez

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
In order to meet the rapidly changing demands of today’s customers, companies are continually forced to redefine their business strategies in order to meet these needs, stay relevant and continue to see profitable growth. IoT deployment and development is integral in this transformation, and today businesses are increasingly seeing the value of investing their resources into IoT deployments. These technologies are able increase ROI through projects such as connecting supply chains or enabling sm...
With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing Cloud strategies, now is the perfect time to attend @CloudExpo | @ThingsExpo, June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY and October 31 - November 2, 2017, Santa Clara Convention Center, CA. Learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is on the right path to Digital Transformation.
Multiple data types are pouring into IoT deployments. Data is coming in small packages as well as enormous files and data streams of many sizes. Widespread use of mobile devices adds to the total. In this power panel at @ThingsExpo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists will look at the tools and environments that are being put to use in IoT deployments, as well as the team skills a modern enterprise IT shop needs to keep things running, get a handle on all this data, and deli...
SYS-CON Events announced today that SoftLayer, an IBM Company, has been named “Gold Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York, New York. SoftLayer, an IBM Company, provides cloud infrastructure as a service from a growing number of data centers and network points of presence around the world. SoftLayer’s customers range from Web startups to global enterprises.
In his opening keynote at 20th Cloud Expo, Michael Maximilien, Research Scientist, Architect, and Engineer at IBM, will motivate why realizing the full potential of the cloud and social data requires artificial intelligence. By mixing Cloud Foundry and the rich set of Watson services, IBM's Bluemix is the best cloud operating system for enterprises today, providing rapid development and deployment of applications that can take advantage of the rich catalog of Watson services to help drive insigh...
Existing Big Data solutions are mainly focused on the discovery and analysis of data. The solutions are scalable and highly available but tedious when swapping in and swapping out occurs in disarray and thrashing takes place. The resolution for thrashing through machine learning algorithms and support nomenclature is through simple techniques. Organizations that have been collecting large customer data are increasingly seeing the need to use the data for swapping in and out and thrashing occurs ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that delaPlex will exhibit at SYS-CON's @CloudExpo, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. delaPlex pioneered Software Development as a Service (SDaaS), which provides scalable resources to build, test, and deploy software. It’s a fast and more reliable way to develop a new product or expand your in-house team.
With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing Cloud strategies, now is the perfect time to attend @CloudExpo | @ThingsExpo, June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY and October 31 - November 2, 2017, Santa Clara Convention Center, CA. Learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is on the right path to Digital Transformation.
SYS-CON Events announced today that EARP Integration will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. EARP Integration is a passionate software house. Since its inception in 2009 the company successfully delivers smart solutions for cities and factories that start their digital transformation. EARP provides bespoke solutions like, for example, advanced enterprise portals, business intelligence systems an...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Progress, a global leader in application development, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Enterprises today are rapidly adopting the cloud, while continuing to retain business-critical/sensitive data inside the firewall. This is creating two separate data silos – one inside the firewall and the other outside the firewall. Cloud ISVs oft...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Outscale, a global pure play Infrastructure as a Service provider and strategic partner of Dassault Systèmes, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Founded in 2010, Outscale simplifies infrastructure complexities and boosts the business agility of its customers. Outscale delivers a secure, reliable and industrial strength solution for its customers, which in...
As cloud adoption continues to transform business, today's global enterprises are challenged with managing a growing amount of information living outside of the data center. The rapid adoption of IoT and increasingly mobile workforce are exacerbating the problem. Ensuring secure data sharing and efficient backup poses capacity and bandwidth considerations as well as policy and regulatory compliance issues.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Cloud Academy will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Cloud Academy is the industry’s most innovative, vendor-neutral cloud technology training platform. Cloud Academy provides continuous learning solutions for individuals and enterprise teams for Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform, and the most popular cloud computing technologies. Ge...
SYS-CON Events announced today that delaPlex will exhibit at SYS-CON's @ThingsExpo, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. delaPlex pioneered Software Development as a Service (SDaaS), which provides scalable resources to build, test, and deploy software. It’s a fast and more reliable way to develop a new product or expand your in-house team.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Interoute has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Interoute is the owner operator of Europe's largest network and a global cloud services platform, which encompasses over 70,000 km of lit fiber, 15 data centers, 17 virtual data centers and 33 colocation centers, with connections to 195 additional partner data centers. Our full-service Unifie...
Amazon started as an online bookseller 20 years ago. Since then, it has evolved into a technology juggernaut that has disrupted multiple markets and industries and touches many aspects of our lives. It is a relentless technology and business model innovator driving disruption throughout numerous ecosystems. Amazon’s AWS revenues alone are approaching $16B a year making it one of the largest IT companies in the world. With dominant offerings in Cloud, IoT, eCommerce, Big Data, AI, Digital Assis...
The 21st International Cloud Expo has announced that its Call for Papers is open. Cloud Expo, to be held October 31 - November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, brings together Cloud Computing, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps, Digital Transformation, Machine Learning and WebRTC to one location. With cloud computing driving a higher percentage of enterprise IT budgets every year, it becomes increasingly important to plant your flag in this fast-expanding busin...
Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place October 31 - November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with the 21st International Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. @ThingsExpo Silicon Valley Call for Papers is now open.
DevOps is often described as a combination of technology and culture. Without both, DevOps isn't complete. However, applying the culture to outdated technology is a recipe for disaster; as response times grow and connections between teams are delayed by technology, the culture will die. A Nutanix Enterprise Cloud has many benefits that provide the needed base for a true DevOps paradigm.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Progress, a global leader in application development, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Enterprises today are rapidly adopting the cloud, while continuing to retain business-critical/sensitive data inside the firewall. This is creating two separate data silos – one inside the firewall and the other outside the firewall. Cloud ISVs ofte...