One Cloud, Many Platforms

Arthur Cole
Slide Show

How Salesforce.com Masters the Cloud

Companies continue to find successful methods for integrating with the Force.com platform.

The cloud may represent a dramatic increase in data center resources and capabilities, but it also interferes with the often-cozy relationship that IT has developed with its infrastructure.

To some, the fact that business units now have the power to provision their own resources on-demand and at very low cost is a net positive. But to those whose job it is to ensure a smooth-running data environment, the cloud introduces a potentially significant integration problem.

As my colleague Loraine Lawson pointed out yesterday, the SaaS industry is already running up against this problem, with nearly 88 percent saying they expect integration issues to begin putting the brakes on service adoption in the coming year. And an even greater number report integration as a top factor in overcoming the fears of new customers.

As usual, however, where there's a problem there's someone, or several someones, looking to fix it. One contender is Egnyte, which has developed a data sync platform aimed at cross-platform/cross-cloud file-sharing between desktops, servers, networking systems and even mobile devices. The company recently added granular sub-folder level control to its HybridCloud offering enabling more efficient use of local storage and improved data flexibility. They've also added new object-level integration with Salesforce to improve collaboration across the entire enterprise work force.

In Europe, where dealing with disparate cultures and languages is a way of life, data integration has followed a more holistic approach. French firm Talend has loaded Version 5 of its Unified Platform with new deployment tools and integration mechanisms that allow it to reside in the cloud and on premises simultaneously where it can better oversee factors like bandwidth, latency and data volumes as close to the source as possible. This allows enterprises to offer native support for Hadoop and other Big Data platforms regardless of the vagaries of underlying infrastructure. They've also added a new business process management (BPM) module for good measure.

The need for broad compatibility in the cloud has some people hoping that it will foster the kind of open platform that has largely eluded traditional data infrastructures. The leading candidate so far is the OpenStack platform currently under development by NASA and Rackspace. So far, 140 companies have joined the effort, with a number of beta projects already under way. A public release is still pending, however, although a firm date has not been announced. The best we have is Rackspace's Lew Moorman telling the recent CloudBeat conference that it's "coming soon."

The early days of any technology revolution are always marked by a high level of confusion. The cloud is more susceptible to this factor because it represents such a dramatic shift in IT technology - literally, the end of a nearly 40-year reign for static architecture.

Rest assured that the cloud is not immune to the laws of common sense, however. Unless and until platform providers can devise a working level of interoperability that suits enterprise needs, it will forever be stuck in the starting gate.

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