When it comes to integration, companies seem to have their eyes on the cloud.
I've seen three announcements regarding integration offered through the cloud this week. The first was Dell's revelation that it would acquire integration-as-a-service vendor Boomi, which I wrote about Tuesday.
That's pretty significant, considering what it represents for Dell. But my question was what this means for the integration-as-a-service market in general.
At this point, I think it's safe to say other vendors are definitely wanting a piece of the integration-in-the-cloud pie. Since Dell's announcement, two other vendors-Microsoft and Fiorano-have announced plans to offer integration as a service solutions.
Microsoft, of course, is the big fish here, so let's discuss it first. ZDNet's Mary-Jo Foley revealed the company's next evolution for BizTalk Server will be to offer its capabilities as an integration service-something Foley has dubbed "BizTalk Azure." It'll be a multi-tenant, scalable cloud service, built on AppFabric, running on Microsoft Azure, according to Microsoft, with a target release date of 2012.
A Microsoft spokesperson is quoted as saying "Our plans to deliver a true Integration service ... will be an important and game changing step for BizTalk Server, giving customers a way to consume integration easily without having to deploy extensive infrastructure and systems integration."
Of course, like most vendors, Microsoft isn't jumping whole-hog to the cloud. You'll still be able to get an on-premise version, the post notes.
The post drew some interesting criticism from one BizTalk freelancer - "lars" - who expressed admiration for the integration parts of BizTalk-and only the integration parts. The reader was a bit skeptical about whether companies would move that sort of integration to the cloud:
"And I don't see these large clients throwing client-transactions cloud-side. Same thing goes for anything that is governed by local or EU / US legislation around protecting information, such as social security numbers etc. If MS decides to chuck any local versions of BizTalk, a lot of clients are going to go with alternatives from BEA/Oracle, IBM or others. Does MS really want to open up and take punches from competitors on the integration front?"
One assumes the remarks were made before the clarification that there would, indeed, be an on-premise version, but I think the point about the cloud and integration is worth a pause. I suspect that, like most integration-as-a-service offerings, this is about integration with other cloud-based services.
Certainly, Fiorano believes organizations are eager for cloud-based integration. On Wednesday, the company announced its Fiorano Cloud Platform, which it defined as "a hybrid version of the traditional on-premise integration model and the contemporary Integration-as-a-Service (IaaS) model." The press release included this telling quote from Fiorano CEO Atul Saini:
"We have already seen significant user interest in the Fiorano Cloud Platform technology. Government agencies in USA and UK, strapped for budget dollars are actively evaluating the platform as a quick, easy and economical way to put in place a Service-oriented Architecture and integrate their many agencies through the Cloud Network. In addition, Healthcare companies that stand to achieve significant ROI on SOA based integration, have also shown keen interest in implementing this model."
The Fiorano offering is built on a cloud ESB platform and uses a peer-to-peer approach. It's currently hosted on Amazon's EC2, which will allow you to scale and pay-as-you-go, according to the press release.