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Cloud’s Cohesion: When Virtual Worlds (Must) Collide

Cloud Computing Is Now “in situ”

The software application developer is about to become the cloud software-as-a-service application developer. At least this is the truism that we must accept if we give full credence to the ‘trending' topics coming out of IT vendors' newswires just now.

Logically, as an industry, we appear to have spent most of our time up until now concentrating on the construction of cloud computing architectures, development frameworks, usage models (i.e., public, private and/or hybrid) and the multifarious issues pertaining to the migration of both data and applications.

Cloud Computing Is Now "in situ"
Following further logic then, we must naturally assume that we will now be faced with the need to perform integration of virtualized compute resources, "in situ" and in the cloud itself. So then, how do we approach the options available to us at this stage of Software-as-a-Service application development?

There are probably three models we can identify here:

  1. Conventional data and application integration tools used in a conventional format (i.e., that means on-premise here), but with the possibility of connection streams to cloud applications if the integration tool deployed has the scope, breadth and capacity to extend to the task.
  2. Cloud-hosted versions of conventional data and application integration tools, where a third-party hosting provider manages both the hardware and software responsible for executing the job at hand. This is (arguably) the best option for enterprises that might employ the services of a Systems Integrator who prefers to operate a sophisticated remote operation that does not necessitate the installation of hardware on the clients' actual physical premises.
  3. Cloud Integration-as-a-Service offerings capable of performing the integration jobs required, in a secure format, over a web connection.

Cloud integration can also of course take various shapes. We can think about on-premise to cloud integration or indeed cloud-to-cloud integration. Not forgetting of course on-premise to on-premise integration for private clouds that still need to experience a cohesive joining action being brought to bear upon the resources which they house.

A Logical Move Towards Integration Process Logic
First vendor among many web searches on this subject is long-time HP enterprise data warehouse platform partner Informatica. The company's latest offerings in this space are designed to allow developers to encapsulate "integration process logic" in templates that can be consumed and dynamically configured by end-users at runtime.

Cloud Integration Templates are a key component of the Informatica Cloud Developer Edition and are being made available along with other productivity assets on the firm's new Cloud Integration Developer site. These pre-built, reusable and customizable templates remove multiple steps from the integration process - such as the building of sophisticated workflows between systems.

"Informatica Cloud Integration Templates allow customers and partners to build, and share full-scale ‘integration apps' on demand. Cloud Integration Templates also save time by using predefined mappings for specific processes, which reduces the number of steps required to execute sophisticated integration workflows. You can even tweak these processes according to your specific needs and dramatically reduce your deployment time and costs," said the company.

Although much of the aforementioned technology sits at the enterprise level, HP (and of course other vendors in this space) also work with vendors focused on the small to medium-sized business (SMB) arena. We make mention of this purely because it was as far back as 2009 when HP signed an SMB-focused partnership deal with Cast Iron System to address the mid-tier market.

The Time Has Come to Move On
There has certainly then been something of an awakening reality in terms of cloud integration services. We might even go so far as to cautiously assume that a healthy proportion of the potential cloud computing marketplace is now aware of the fact that we have private, public and hybrid options available for cloud architecture - and that now, the question has moved on to how we start to work on integration issues.

The vendor list in this space is growing; Opscode's latest ‘Chef' solutions brand has been engineered this year to deliver what the company describes as "full stack infrastructure automation" - and this, in practice, means server provisioning and configuration management all the way through to continuous delivery of infrastructure and applications for the cloud.

But cloud integration is in danger of being relabelled "next-generation configuration management" if we let it - and many will argue that it is more than that. Internet-scale cloud-scale applications have the potential to develop massive layers of complexity; and with Big Data concerns thrown into the mix too, the very discipline of cloud integration needs to now flourish in its own right.

•   •   •

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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