Cloud // Software as a Service
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1/21/2011
10:00 PM
Charles Babcock
Charles Babcock
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Integration In The Cloud, The Sleeper Issue

It won't be enough to just move workloads into the cloud; it'll still be necessary to integrate with other apps residing there.

I'm beginning to think the unanswered question about cloud computing is integration. Sure it's easy to provision servers with a workload in the cloud, assign storage, even create an instant recovery system in a neighboring availability zone. But after that, what can you connect it to?

Integration was the problem in the previous cycle of computing. That was when everything was under one roof. What's to keep it from being an even bigger issue in the cloud era? Talend and Jitterbit may be part of the answer, since the cloud seems to like open source code, and the two of them have sustained a prolonged output of open source connectors and adapters. Still you need the expertise of working with all of those moving parts.

It seems to me the cloud itself has to serve as part of the solution. It's not enough to merely duplicate everything we did inside the data center again outside in the cloud. That sounds so Sterling Commerce/ Progress Software/Iona-ish oriented. Oh, that's right, Progress acquired Iona three-years ago.

The workload in the cloud is going to have the same need to connect to a particular database (whether a standard relational system or a non-standard structure), to other applications, and to a multitude of data-generating sources. One way to describe the shortcomings of the current environment, however, is to imagine developing an application in the cloud that will need to connect to the mainframe. There are no mainframe services in the x86-based cloud. How are you going to test the application to know whether it really taps into the customer information control system (CICS)?

John Michelsen, chief scientist of cloud development, virtualization, and testing software provider iTKO, says this is "the wires hanging out of the cloud" problem. You've developed software that you need to test, but you can't give it a realistic run because there's no equivalent to a mainframe system in the cloud environment. In a test, your application issues a call to the mainframe's information management system (IMS), but the wire over which the call went out is disconnected, hanging loose, unable to allow the software complete its function. Michelsen wouldn't be Michelsen if he wasn't sure he's got the answer, which is: specialized modules that can mimic mainframe functions in the cloud, allowing the application to function as if it were attached to the target system.

But I'm looking for a more generic solution. Why can't the cloud help solve the problem that arises as it starts to run more and more enterprise workloads?

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