Welcome!

Cloud Security Authors: Elizabeth White, Pat Romanski, Maria C. Horton, Liz McMillan, Ravi Rajamiyer

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.


IoT & Smart Cities Stories
The platform combines the strengths of Singtel's extensive, intelligent network capabilities with Microsoft's cloud expertise to create a unique solution that sets new standards for IoT applications," said Mr Diomedes Kastanis, Head of IoT at Singtel. "Our solution provides speed, transparency and flexibility, paving the way for a more pervasive use of IoT to accelerate enterprises' digitalisation efforts. AI-powered intelligent connectivity over Microsoft Azure will be the fastest connected pat...
There are many examples of disruption in consumer space – Uber disrupting the cab industry, Airbnb disrupting the hospitality industry and so on; but have you wondered who is disrupting support and operations? AISERA helps make businesses and customers successful by offering consumer-like user experience for support and operations. We have built the world’s first AI-driven IT / HR / Cloud / Customer Support and Operations solution.
Codete accelerates their clients growth through technological expertise and experience. Codite team works with organizations to meet the challenges that digitalization presents. Their clients include digital start-ups as well as established enterprises in the IT industry. To stay competitive in a highly innovative IT industry, strong R&D departments and bold spin-off initiatives is a must. Codete Data Science and Software Architects teams help corporate clients to stay up to date with the mod...
At CloudEXPO Silicon Valley, June 24-26, 2019, Digital Transformation (DX) is a major focus with expanded DevOpsSUMMIT and FinTechEXPO programs within the DXWorldEXPO agenda. Successful transformation requires a laser focus on being data-driven and on using all the tools available that enable transformation if they plan to survive over the long term. A total of 88% of Fortune 500 companies from a generation ago are now out of business. Only 12% still survive. Similar percentages are found throug...
Druva is the global leader in Cloud Data Protection and Management, delivering the industry's first data management-as-a-service solution that aggregates data from endpoints, servers and cloud applications and leverages the public cloud to offer a single pane of glass to enable data protection, governance and intelligence-dramatically increasing the availability and visibility of business critical information, while reducing the risk, cost and complexity of managing and protecting it. Druva's...
BMC has unmatched experience in IT management, supporting 92 of the Forbes Global 100, and earning recognition as an ITSM Gartner Magic Quadrant Leader for five years running. Our solutions offer speed, agility, and efficiency to tackle business challenges in the areas of service management, automation, operations, and the mainframe.
The Jevons Paradox suggests that when technological advances increase efficiency of a resource, it results in an overall increase in consumption. Writing on the increased use of coal as a result of technological improvements, 19th-century economist William Stanley Jevons found that these improvements led to the development of new ways to utilize coal. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Mark Thiele, Chief Strategy Officer for Apcera, compared the Jevons Paradox to modern-day enterprise IT, examin...
With 10 simultaneous tracks, keynotes, general sessions and targeted breakout classes, @CloudEXPO and DXWorldEXPO are two of the most important technology events of the year. Since its launch over eight years ago, @CloudEXPO and DXWorldEXPO have presented a rock star faculty as well as showcased hundreds of sponsors and exhibitors! In this blog post, we provide 7 tips on how, as part of our world-class faculty, you can deliver one of the most popular sessions at our events. But before reading...
DSR is a supplier of project management, consultancy services and IT solutions that increase effectiveness of a company's operations in the production sector. The company combines in-depth knowledge of international companies with expert knowledge utilising IT tools that support manufacturing and distribution processes. DSR ensures optimization and integration of internal processes which is necessary for companies to grow rapidly. The rapid growth is possible thanks, to specialized services an...
At CloudEXPO Silicon Valley, June 24-26, 2019, Digital Transformation (DX) is a major focus with expanded DevOpsSUMMIT and FinTechEXPO programs within the DXWorldEXPO agenda. Successful transformation requires a laser focus on being data-driven and on using all the tools available that enable transformation if they plan to survive over the long term. A total of 88% of Fortune 500 companies from a generation ago are now out of business. Only 12% still survive. Similar percentages are found throug...