Answer

Moving to the cloud: Evaluating cloud integration platform features

What features or capabilities should I look for when evaluating a cloud integration platform?

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The features you’re looking for depend entirely on your needs, but there are some common features that you want to look for with any cloud platform. The primary feature you want to look for in a cloud integration platform is elasticity. This is slightly different then scalability in that it implies that you can expand or shrink your overall costs automatically to fit your usage needs. They key factor to determine here is how you are billed. You want to find a solution that will fit your needs, and make sure that you can scale your application easily and effectively; after all, that’s what you’re moving to the cloud for.

Another important thing to consider is global presence. Most cloud vendors indicate exactly where your servers will be located, which is very important to help avoid latency issues, depending on where your client base is located. For example, if you have or plan to have clients located in Europe, you don’t want to pick a cloud vendor that only has services in America. It’s also important to look at how frequently your cloud vendor is adding new hardware and data centers, as this is a good indication of how much usage they have and how likely they are to continue to support new areas you may eventually want to market to.

Also important is integration with other services. For example, if you need to be able to pull in data from Twitter, it’s important to make sure that your cloud integration platform provides a decent way to handle that. There are also a few other key capabilities that you should look out for depending on your specific needs. You don’t necessarily need your provider to give you all of these features, but they are some common ones that many cloud providers support.

  • Long-term large-object storage (such as file-storage)
  • Short-term storage (such as caching services)
  • Small-object searchable storage (such as a database or search system)
  • Computational power (such as servers)
  • Content Distribution (CDNs with regional endpoints)

One final thing to look at is the amount of features, and the overall growth of features based on community feedback. It’s certainly one thing to release a lot of features that you think your users may want, but it’s another thing entirely to see what people are doing with your service and then release features to help aid them. This is something that the major cloud players are usually on-the-ball with.

This was first published in May 2012

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