Integration is never an automatic process, as those companies working on bringing public cloud services together with their own internal infrastructure have learned. Now, we're also seeing greater adoption of private clouds (or at least virtualized resources), and the challenge is going to be getting applications and processes to seamlessly move information in and out of private and public clouds -- often as part of a single transaction.
Welcome JBOCS, or 'Just a Bunch of Cloud Services'
Is anyone ready for all this? Or are we in for a lot of JBOCS architectures springing up all over the map? (Just a Bunch of Cloud Services)
Dave Linthicum, who almost singlehandedly defined the integration category a few years back, is warning that enterprises may find the theoretical simplicity that clouds are supposed to bring to enterprise computing are vanishing into the haze. He also picked up on recent posts by Lori MacVittie and myself about the back-end 99 percent of the work that will be necessary to make processes strung across clouds work as seamlessly as they do with on-premises applications. (Well, "seamless" may be a relative term, right?)
As Dave puts it:
"Data integration, for instance, does not occur automatically. You have to consider common sets of semantics that exist between private and public clouds, and then the mechanisms leveraged to synchronize the data. Best practices in this area are still emerging, but the good news is that well-matured data integration technology currently exists. The trick is to figure out the new approaches for your particular problem domain."
The challenge is to put technology in the middle of private and public cloud links, which will able to account for semantic differences, as well as work around the different protocols and interface standards, Dave says.
Let me throw one more -- no, two more issues -- into the mix. First, there are going to be a lot of services being brought in by business folks that essentially are not giving a lot of thought to data integration. The IT and integration folks may not even be aware of who is using what services -- is someone using Salesforce.com modules? Is someone building a database using Amazon SimpleDB? Is someone else leveraging services provided by a business partner? JBOCS.
The other issue that may be on the rise is the services that the enterprise itself is building, maintaining and offering beyond the firewall, to partners and customers. This is another function of the private cloud, and there is more likely to be an architectural approach and some governance here. But as we all know from our collective SOA experiences, but it's not a guaranteed thing.