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Architecture-Agnosticism for Application Transformation

We now know that we are trying to go from data, to information, to real-time analysis and finally onward to insight

The problem with cloud computing is that the adoption challenge is firmly rooted on the ground.

All too often we hear vendors talk about the need for "management and usability" as key must-have characteristics in cloud application platforms, but these over-used generic marketing terms now have arguably less value in terms of real-world real-time real-data deployments.

At a more granular level we need to know what programmers need to a) migrate existing application structures to new hosted virtualized environments and b) initiative new cloud application and database builds that are architected in such as way that they can migrate across different cloud formations (i.e., private, public and hybrid) as and when this shift is needed.

Onward to openness
Companies like Red Hat talk about cloud automation tools and an increasing emphasis on "cloud-ready" architectures being presented from the start of the development process. The company (a long time HP partner using the now decade-old Red Het Enterprise Linux RHEL operating system) says that it supports a philosophy and strategy for the cloud based upon the following three key criteria:

  • Deployment Model Flexibility - so that customers can deploy to (and move in between) on-premise private, virtualized or public cloud infrastructures at any time.
  • No Lock-In Cloud Portability - so that customers can now migrate deployments to the physical (and virtual) cloud location and type of choice, once again... at all times.
  • Interconnected Inter-Spanning Clouds - so that customers can run multiple cloud environments, concurrently, at all times all the time.

HP for its part appears to have been reasonably well aligned to Red Hat's mindset and open methodology culture. A cynical observer might suggest that this is no surprise if you look at Red Hat's arguably fairly deep partnership with IBM; Big Blue after all has backed Linux for longer than many other hardware vendors and continues to do so today.

According to HP's vice president of infrastructure software and blades Scott Farrand, "Enterprises are looking to increase flexibility and reduce complexity by deploying a converged infrastructure along with end-to-end heterogeneous data centre management capability. HP is working closely with Red Hat to provide best-in-class hardware and software infrastructure and management solutions for Red Hat enterprise virtualization."

As analysts now predict that Linux revenues will increase by 17% between 2009 and 2014 and we start to see open standards really impact the development of cloud computing models, where will we go next?

The Middle Way
If we look at Red Hat's JBoss middleware layer we can see that the platform is striving to try and provide the ability to allow programmers to move their application development and deployment to new virtualized cloud computing scenarios, but, crucially, without the need to "re-skill or diverge" from open industry standards.

What we see now is a push for application architectures becoming agnostic, or perhaps even "invisible" if you will, i.e., we need to be able evolve across different cloud structures as time goes on. To achieve this we need to create computing environments where application developers benefit from what we might call "pluggable" lightweight components so that a modular set of services becomes available that are then dynamically allocated -- and this dynamic allocation is carried out based upon the needs of specifically deployed applications in any given scenario.

Data Drives Demand
We now know that we are trying to go from data, to information, to real-time analysis and finally onward to insight. But while we the face real-world data challenges of latency that will slow down decision making and our path to analysis and insight, we need stable development tools (whether it is inside Red Hat's world of Linux or otherwise) and open interoperability throughout.

Platform agnosticism is good, code base interoperability is good, the connected cloud is good - and so, if we are going to achieve real "application transformation" then we need to get real.

•   •   •

This post was first published on the Enterprise CIO Forum.

More Stories By Adrian Bridgwater

Adrian Bridgwater is a freelance journalist and corporate content creation specialist focusing on cross platform software application development as well as all related aspects software engineering, project management and technology as a whole.

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