Interoperability is Key in the Cloud - InformationWeek

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Commentary
2/11/2009
10:28 AM
David Linthicum
David Linthicum
Commentary
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Interoperability is Key in the Cloud

The big push right now is around interoperability among cloud providers, or the notion of cloud vendors offering built-in communications -- as well as application and data portability -- among suppliers. Core to this concept is a buzzword I've been hearing the last few months: Intercloud.

I spoke at the Open Group's Cloud Computing Summit last week in San Diego, a conference that focuses on where cloud computing meets enterprise architecture. Presenters from Amazon, Cisco, HP, IBM, and a few other vendors spoke one right after the other, and it was interesting to hear how cloud providers are positioning cloud computing.

The big push right now is around interoperability among cloud providers, or the notion of cloud vendors offering built-in communications -- as well as application and data portability -- among suppliers. Core to this concept was a buzzword I've been hearing the last few months, and many times at the event: Intercloud.Although this is one of those new topics that's broadly defined, the Intercloud is really the concept of allowing cloud providers to exchange information and behavior in support of those who use the cloud. Like the Internet, they want to connect many different things together, and provide a standard mechanism for doing so.

This is important for a few reasons. First, it puts the responsibility for communicating between providers on the providers, not on the users. Second, it provides a foundation for interoperability that, to-date, has been pretty ad-hoc. Finally, it reduces the price point of cloud computing, and considering the two previous points, cost is the core selling point of the cloud.

Cloud providers see the value of promoting interoperability, even though many would love to have the customer locked in. However, in these days when open source is a much better sell than proprietary features, cloud vendors could find that providing interoperability gets many enterprises off the fence and moving toward the clouds.

Several organizations are working on interoperability, including:

Techweb/Redmonk/CloudCampThe Cloud Computing Interoperability ForumThe Open Cloud ConsortiumThe "cloud-o-sphere"

However, the success of interoperability within the cloud realm will be dependent upon their ability to stop building features and start building for interoperability. With the huge land grab that's going on right now, that's easy to talk about, but tougher to do. At the end of the day, cloud users will have to insist on openness, as they did in the world of SOA and other architectural shifts in thinking.

This could very well be one of those times when everyone talks a good game, pays dues into some organization promoting standards, but then the solution continues to be proprietary due to the cost and latency that cloud providers will face when coordinating with their competition. Again, end users will have to make interoperability a core criteria for vendor selection. As with anything, money talks.The big push right now is around interoperability among cloud providers, or the notion of cloud vendors offering built-in communications -- as well as application and data portability -- among suppliers. Core to this concept is a buzzword I've been hearing the last few months: Intercloud.

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