How Cloud Integration May Change the Role of the CIO

    Services. It’s all about services these days. So, inevitably, it’s also about the integration of those services.

    In recent years, the focus has been on cloud-based SaaS — software as a service. But let’s not forget that many organizations also use internal services, whether that means a few Web services or a full service-oriented architecture.

    Now, for some time, experts and vendors have focused on the challenges of integrating SaaS data with on-premise data.

    But what happens when companies want to integrate internal services with cloud-based, public external services — or external services with other external services?

    What happens is a role change for CIOs, contends Ken Oestreich, a technology marketing veteran and the senior director of Cloud & Virtualization Marketing at EMC.

    “In essence, the CIO’s focus will tend to move ‘up the stack,’” he writes in a GigaOm guest post. “To better serve the enterprise, she’ll be relied-upon to manage and integrate services provided to the business.”

    This is not the first time I’ve seen this prediction. Two years ago, Jimmy Harris, then Accenture’s managing director of cloud computing, predicted that IT would become more like an “uber integrator” instead of a builder.

    As you might expect, integrating external services will involve more than the tactical issues of connecting the services. Oestreich writes it will also require:

    • Identity and access management for each provider
    • Data compliance, along with legal and regulatory audits of all providers
    • Security compliance systems
    • Provisioning, which, he adds, needs to include capacity forecasting
    • SLA monitoring
    • Cost and budget tracking
    • Disaster recovery and redundant services

    He adds this will require a shift from hand-coded integration to a more standardized, scalable model of integration.

    But that’s not the only change this new focus on service integration will bring: In a follow-up post, Oestreich suggests the shift toward integrating services will require a revamp of the Enterprise Service Bus (ESB) — an ESB 2.0, if you will. Call it a Cloud ESB, an Internet Service Bus or simply an Integration Bus — whatever you call it, it will need to be more general than SOAP, which is the foundation for many internal services, he writes.

    Of course, there is already a more generalized approach to services: REST. And for that matter, there are already cloud-based services that can be used for integration: APIs.

    As David Linthicum, a data and services integration expert pointed out this week, APIs are services, but they’re not being designed in a way that makes them usable in a broader capacity.

    “In my real-world encounters as a consultant, I find service design to be a more haphazard process,” Linthicum writes. “However, that need not be the case if you understand the use cases and how all these elements should exist in architecture. But few organizations have reached that level of thinking. As we all smarten up, count on major redesign work for your services.”

    Specifically, Linthicum says APIs need to move beyond a primitive, fine-grained approach to thinking through how services can best be designed to fit into an enterprise SOA or any larger architecture.

    Clearly, that’s not where service integration is now, but my guess is, we’re within spitting distance. 

    Loraine Lawson
    Loraine Lawson
    Loraine Lawson is a freelance writer specializing in technology and business issues, including integration, health care IT, cloud and Big Data.

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