As far as technology advances go, the cloud has been a relatively easy one for the enterprise. So easy, in fact, that much of the push into cloud architectures is coming not from IT but from business units that have little or no working knowledge of modern data infrastructure.
But that level of simplicity can come back to haunt the enterprise by producing serious fragmentation of clouds and cloud services – so much so that many organizations are now dealing with the very same silo-style infrastructure in the cloud that they have worked so hard to dismantle in the data center.
This, of course, has led to a new breed of service aimed at integrating disparate clouds so they can contribute collectively to the broader enterprise ecosystem. Some of these are cloud services themselves, while others look to shore up the underpinnings of data infrastructure through hybrid platforms that unite internal and external resources.
A company called Mulesoft, for example, has been working on cloud integration by overcoming the management and visibility limitations that tend to crop up around disparate cloud deployments based on standard HTTP, SOAP and REST communications. The company’s CloudHub solution serves as an Integrated Platform-as-a-Service (IPaaS) framework that uses the company’s Mule Enterprise Service Bus to connect data and applications across on-premise and cloud-based infrastructure. In this way, the company says it can provide near-real-time, event-driven functionality even in cases where code modifications are needed to maintain or improve application performance.
At the same time, a company called Azuqua offers a drag-and-drop approach to integrate various cloud offerings to form a more cohesive service-based architecture. In this way, organizations can build greater functionality across, say, Salesforce applications and Twitter to drive faster data dissemination and collaboration. With a little experience, organizations can even mix and match disparate services and data sets to create entirely new business processes, all without writing code or delving into arcane application layers.
For a company like VMware, cloud integration isn’t just a useful tool but a fundamental aspect of its approach to the software-defined data center (SDDC) on the virtual layer. Through platforms like the vCloud hybrid service solution (vCHS), the company maintains enterprises will be able to integrate any number of SaaS, PaaS and IaaS architectures using commodity hardware, essentially establishing an entirely new data environment as an abstract virtual layer. In this way, the enterprise will be able to quickly and easily deploy the proper APIs, security policies, management tools and other components to bring data architectures together, or keep them separate if necessary.
And from Down Under, a start-up called Maestrano is building a suite of open source cloud applications designed to provide small and medium-sized businesses a full enterprise environment at low cost and with no long-term contracts. Organizations can obtain integrated services ranging from accounting to time management without requiring the kind of back-end connectivity that many single-service models feature. The company says it can not only provide a more cohesive set of services but cut costs by as much as 90 percent.
With the presence of rogue clouds and shadow IT still largely unnoticed at many organizations, cloud integration appears to be one of those problems that will only face serious scrutiny when major issues start to crop up, like critical data from one side of the house not making it to decision makers on the other. By then, however, the cloud will likely have become so disparate and complex that solutions will be both costly and time-consuming.
This makes it all the more critical for organizations to establish thorough cloud policies now and to provide adequate infrastructure to support cloud-based activities for all business units. The last thing anyone wants is a brand-new set of data silos, stretched halfway around the globe.