Q

Why is app integration such a problem in cloud computing?

Chris Moyer explains why application integration is a chronic problem that seems to get more complex in cloud environments.

Why is application integration a chronic problem, one that just gets more complex in cloud environments? What can

provide relief?

Unfortunately, there is no silver bullet. Open APIs are a start, but the unfortunate part is that nobody can agree on standards.

The ultimate goal of any new technology or ideology is to have a simple base set of services that multiple vendors can support. Until everything comes to a standard and starts leading to a convergence in technologies, there will be a mad scramble and too much competition between cloud platforms to "be better" instead of advancing the technology as a whole. Right now, the only real contender is Amazon, although Google is making strides.

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Ask Chris Moyer for advice about your application integration challenges and/or related error messages at editor@searchcloud
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Check out Chris Moyer's favorite Web comic about standardization: http://xkcd.com/927/.

Cloud app integration is hard because people try to use old ideas on a new platform and because everyone has their own ideas of what a cloud actually is. Unfortunately for many groups, it's very scary to just throw away everything you thought you knew about applications and really build for scale.

To compound the issue, every cloud vendor only has one common definition of a cloud platform: "my Product." It's unfortunate, but the platforms are all trying to advance their own systems and not the overall technology. This leads to vendor lock-in or "platform lock-in" if you're using a virtualization layer on top of cloud computing. It's scary to outsource your core business to a place that doesn't give you control that physical hardware does.

I think the only answer is for competing vendors to try to foster more collaboration and focus more on core services and less on new products. Amazon may be producing a lot of really awesome Software as a Service solutions, but the core product line seems to suffer from this. Instead of spreading the focus and ending up with disparate systems, vendors should try to agree on one set of base solutions and agree on one simple standard.

VMware is one of the largest culprits of fighting the cloud age as well. They've most famously stated recently, "If Amazon cloud wins, we all lose." This is just one more way in which cloud providers are thinking wrong. An advancement in cloud computing is better for everyone. The vendors are currently fighting; that needs to stop.

In DevOps, the idea is that you can have one person manage both development and operations of your systems. Unfortunately, that just really isn't the case. While it does become easier to manage operations in a cloud environment, you still need someone to manage those operations, and developers are often not the best solution to that. Having operations staff that has some development knowledge is always good, but don't expect to be able to do away with sys admins and operations staff just because you're moving to the cloud.

You need more than a developer to ease integration problems and help integrate cloud-based solutions. Developers need architects first, and those architects are what help with designing the application "from the get-go" to make sure it will operate well within a cloud-computing platform. 

Editor’s note: Tell us about your enterprise- or cloud-related application integration problems and/or successes in handling them at editor@searchcloudapplications.com.

Follow us on Twitter at @SearchCloudApps.

This was first published in May 2013

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