Blogger: Cloud Service Interoperability Isn't the Problem

Loraine Lawson

You learn something new everyday, they say. The older I get, the more frequently learning something new actually involves realizing how wrong I am.


Apparently, I'm not the only one, because Lori MacVittie, a Technical Marketing Manager with F5 Networks, is delivering the smack down this week to everyone who's rallying for portability and interoperability across cloud services.


You would think that cloud service portability and interoperability would be something everyone would support, but MacVittie contends it's a misdirected quest:


"Yes, users should be able to get their data out of a cloud with the same relative ease with which it went in, but we aren't talking about cloud services we're talking about application services. And interoperability and portability between applications has never, ever been a guarantee. E-mail is about the only exception to this rule and you can thank RFC 822 for that."


What's more, this isn't a cloud problem at all, but rather, a problem as old as trying to get two applications to talk to one another, she argues:


"Portability of application services, like Sidekick, is not a cloud problem. It is an ancient problem that goes back to the first attempt at sharing data across two applications that continues to plague enterprises and developers like some kind of immortal, invulnerable locust. An entire software industry focuses on making this process as simple as possible; you may have heard of it, it's called enterprise application integration (EAI)."


I appreciate her straightening out the incorrect terminology, but I also felt a bit like a frustrated kid, corrected on my pronunciation by an adult who, for some reason, understands what I mean but is too busy being pedantic to address the real problem. "Oh, you know what I mean," I wanted to whine. After all, lock-in is lock-in, and as we've discussed before, vendor lock-in should be a concern for those moving more business-critical functions into the cloud.


But MacVittie does have a point beyond correcting the terminology, and, as I read it, it's this: The problem will need to be solved by pushing for application integration, and not by a generic push for interoperability.


She explains where the responsibility should lie, using the recent T-Mobile Sidekick fiasco as an example:


"This problem can only be solved by the application provider, which in this case is T-Mobile. It is the responsibility of T-Mobile to provide a means by which the data stored in its application can be transferred to another application-cloud-based or otherwise-and its data is properly backed up (which is yet another piece of this supposed cloudtastrophe puzzle that isn't being addressed enough). And that's it. It is the responsibility of other application providers to offer a means by which that data can be imported and transferred to their application, thus providing the portability that is apparently demanded by consumers. ..."


I suspect this also ties in with metadata integration, an idea she doesn't mention specifically here, but which she has previously explored.


So far, no one has commented on her post, either on the F5 blog or on Sys-Con's Open Web Developer's Journal, where it was reposted Tuesday. I'd be interested in hearing a response from the portability crowd. Any takers?

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