Welcome!

Cloud Expo Authors: Jerry Melnick, Liz McMillan, Elizabeth White, Esmeralda Swartz, Michelle Drolet

Related Topics: Open Web, SOA & WOA, Adobe Flex, Web 2.0, Cloud Expo

Open Web: 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.


Cloud Expo Breaking News
More and more enterprises today are doing business by opening up their data and applications through APIs. Though forward-thinking and strategic, exposing APIs also increases the surface area for potential attack by hackers. To benefit from APIs while staying secure, enterprises and security architects need to continue to develop a deep understanding about API security and how it differs from traditional web application security or mobile application security. In his session at 14th Cloud Expo, Sachin Agarwal, VP of Product Marketing and Strategy at SOA Software, will walk you through the various aspects of how an API could be potentially exploited. He will discuss the necessary best practices to secure your data and enterprise applications while continue continuing to support your business’s digital initiatives.
Web conferencing in a public cloud has the same risks as any other cloud service. If you have ever had concerns over the types of data being shared in your employees’ web conferences, such as IP, financials or customer data, then it’s time to look at web conferencing in a private cloud. In her session at 14th Cloud Expo, Courtney Behrens, Senior Marketing Manager at Brother International, will discuss how issues that had previously been out of your control, like performance, advanced administration and compliance, can now be put back behind your firewall.
Next-Gen Cloud. Whatever you call it, there’s a higher calling for cloud computing that requires providers to change their spots and move from a commodity mindset to a premium one. Businesses can no longer maintain the status quo that today’s service providers offer. Yes, the continuity, speed, mobility, data access and connectivity are staples of the cloud and always will be. But cloud providers that plan to not only exist tomorrow – but to lead – know that security must be the top priority for the cloud and are delivering it now. In his session at 14th Cloud Expo, Kurt Hagerman, Chief Information Security Officer at FireHost, will detail why and how you can have both infrastructure performance and enterprise-grade security – and what tomorrow's cloud provider will look like.
The social media expansion has shown just how people are eager to share their experiences with the rest of the world. Cloud technology is the perfect platform to satisfy this need given its great flexibility and readiness. At Cynny, we aim to revolutionize how people share and organize their digital life through a brand new cloud service, starting from infrastructure to the users’ interface. A revolution that began from inventing and designing our very own infrastructure: we have created the first server network powered solely by ARM CPU. The microservers have “organism-like” features, differentiating them from any of the current technologies. Benefits include low consumption of energy, making Cynny the ecologically friendly alternative for storage as well as cheaper infrastructure, lower running costs, etc.
The revolution that happened in the server universe over the past 15 years has resulted in an eco-system that is more open, more democratically innovative and produced better results in technically challenging dimensions like scale. The underpinnings of the revolution were common hardware, standards based APIs (ex. POSIX) and a strict adherence to layering and isolation between applications, daemons and kernel drivers/modules which allowed multiple types of development happen in parallel without hindering others. Put simply, today's server model is built on a consistent x86 platform with few surprises in its core components. A kernel abstracts away the platform, so that applications and daemons are decoupled from the hardware. In contrast, networking equipment is still stuck in the mainframe era. Today, networking equipment is a single appliance, including hardware, OS, applications and user interface come as a monolithic entity from a single vendor. Switching between different vendor'...
Cloud backup and recovery services are critical to safeguarding an organization’s data and ensuring business continuity when technical failures and outages occur. With so many choices, how do you find the right provider for your specific needs? In his session at 14th Cloud Expo, Daniel Jacobson, Technology Manager at BUMI, will outline the key factors including backup configurations, proactive monitoring, data restoration, disaster recovery drills, security, compliance and data center resources. Aside from the technical considerations, the secret sauce in identifying the best vendor is the level of focus, expertise and specialization of their engineering team and support group, and how they monitor your day-to-day backups, provide recommendations, and guide you through restores when necessary.
Cloud scalability and performance should be at the heart of every successful Internet venture. The infrastructure needs to be resilient, flexible, and fast – it’s best not to get caught thinking about architecture until the middle of an emergency, when it's too late. In his interactive, no-holds-barred session at 14th Cloud Expo, Phil Jackson, Development Community Advocate for SoftLayer, will dive into how to design and build-out the right cloud infrastructure.
You use an agile process; your goal is to make your organization more agile. What about your data infrastructure? The truth is, today’s databases are anything but agile – they are effectively static repositories that are cumbersome to work with, difficult to change, and cannot keep pace with application demands. Performance suffers as a result, and it takes far longer than it should to deliver on new features and capabilities needed to make your organization competitive. As your application and business needs change, data repositories and structures get outmoded rapidly, resulting in increased work for application developers and slow performance for end users. Further, as data sizes grow into the Big Data realm, this problem is exacerbated and becomes even more difficult to address. A seemingly simple schema change can take hours (or more) to perform, and as requirements evolve the disconnect between existing data structures and actual needs diverge.
SYS-CON Events announced today that SherWeb, a long-time leading provider of cloud services and Microsoft's 2013 World Hosting Partner of the Year, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 14th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 10–12, 2014, at the Javits Center in New York City, New York. A worldwide hosted services leader ranking in the prestigious North American Deloitte Technology Fast 500TM, and Microsoft's 2013 World Hosting Partner of the Year, SherWeb provides competitive cloud solutions to businesses and partners around the world. Founded in 1998, SherWeb is a privately owned company headquartered in Quebec, Canada. Its service portfolio includes Microsoft Exchange, SharePoint, Lync, Dynamics CRM and more.
The world of cloud and application development is not just for the hardened developer these days. In their session at 14th Cloud Expo, Phil Jackson, Development Community Advocate for SoftLayer, and Harold Hannon, Sr. Software Architect at SoftLayer, will pull back the curtain of the architecture of a fun demo application purpose-built for the cloud. They will focus on demonstrating how they leveraged compute, storage, messaging, and other cloud elements hosted at SoftLayer to lower the effort and difficulty of putting together a useful application. This will be an active demonstration and review of simple command-line tools and resources, so don’t be afraid if you are not a seasoned developer.
SYS-CON Events announced today that BUMI, a premium managed service provider specializing in data backup and recovery, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 14th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 10–12, 2014, at the Javits Center in New York City, New York. Manhattan-based BUMI (Backup My Info!) is a premium managed service provider specializing in data backup and recovery. Founded in 2002, the company’s Here, There and Everywhere data backup and recovery solutions are utilized by more than 500 businesses. BUMI clients include professional service organizations such as banking, financial, insurance, accounting, hedge funds and law firms. The company is known for its relentless passion for customer service and support, and has won numerous awards, including Customer Service Provider of the Year and 10 Best Companies to Work For.
Chief Security Officers (CSO), CIOs and IT Directors are all concerned with providing a secure environment from which their business can innovate and customers can safely consume without the fear of Distributed Denial of Service attacks. To be successful in today's hyper-connected world, the enterprise needs to leverage the capabilities of the web and be ready to innovate without fear of DDoS attacks, concerns about application security and other threats. Organizations face great risk from increasingly frequent and sophisticated attempts to render web properties unavailable, and steal intellectual property or personally identifiable information. Layered security best practices extend security beyond the data center, delivering DDoS protection and maintaining site performance in the face of fast-changing threats.
From data center to cloud to the network. In his session at 3rd SDDC Expo, Raul Martynek, CEO of Net Access, will identify the challenges facing both data center providers and enterprise IT as they relate to cross-platform automation. He will then provide insight into designing, building, securing and managing the technology as an integrated service offering. Topics covered include: High-density data center design Network (and SDN) integration and automation Cloud (and hosting) infrastructure considerations Monitoring and security Management approaches Self-service and automation
In his session at 14th Cloud Expo, David Holmes, Vice President at OutSystems, will demonstrate the immense power that lives at the intersection of mobile apps and cloud application platforms. Attendees will participate in a live demonstration – an enterprise mobile app will be built and changed before their eyes – on their own devices. David Holmes brings over 20 years of high-tech marketing leadership to OutSystems. Prior to joining OutSystems, he was VP of Global Marketing for Damballa, a leading provider of network security solutions. Previously, he was SVP of Global Marketing for Jacada where his branding and positioning expertise helped drive the company from start-up days to a $55 million initial public offering on Nasdaq.
Performance is the intersection of power, agility, control, and choice. If you value performance, and more specifically consistent performance, you need to look beyond simple virtualized compute. Many factors need to be considered to create a truly performant environment. In his General Session at 14th Cloud Expo, Marc Jones, Vice President of Product Innovation for SoftLayer, will explain how to take advantage of a multitude of compute options and platform features to make cloud the cornerstone of your online presence.