At times it feels like the concept of cloud computing is as ephemeral as a towering cumulus cloud on a summer day. It passes by, changes shape and looks different to every person who views it. But like those clouds in the sky, there's a lot of complexity out there, especially as it concerns how data is managed in a multi-tenant environment.
The issue keeps coming up. First off, there are no existing standards for moving data in the cloud. Third party vendors like CloudSwitch are providing ways to "drag and drop," data from on-premise to a cloud environments. But there is just no standardized way to move information between cloud networks.
But there are some ways to manage the complexity.David Linthicum wrote a blog post yesterday on the topic. We agree with Linthicum to some extent but his declarations don't entirely reflect the current reality.
Linthicum outlines some of the inherent issues that come with data integration in the cloud. The biggest issue comes down to the cloud computing providers. They do not provide syncing back to the customer's on-premise environment. Linthicum points out that Salesforce.com is the exception to the rule in this regard.
So, according to Linthicum, what should the customer consider?
- Backup: This is the first and foremost issue for Linthicum. You need to have an on-premise backup in case of cloud computing outages,cloud service providers going out of business or to prevent the headaches that can happen when the new owner of your cloud computing provider decides that it's really not interested in that business at all.
- Data Movement: It's the data integration that drives processes between systems that may be in the cloud or on-premise. How do you manage all this information that may be dispersed over geographically distant platforms? It's a different world than dealing with systems that exist in one data center.
We agree to a point but there are lots of various options to these issues. First off, it's often a matter of what cloud computing platform you choose. The large service providers offer the safest bet. They are vested in the future of cloud computing and are developing ecosystems that consist of third-party partners. A number of these partners specialize in cloud-based application deployments.
And cloud-based security is making advances that make data loss as rare as if the data is on-premise.
Linthicum does offer some sound advice that may seem more like common sense but it is worth noting:
"First, consider the overall requirements of the business. Sounds obvious, but many who deploy cloud computing systems do not have a complete understanding of the overall business requirements.
Second, focus on the holistic architecture, on-premise and cloud-delivered, including how they will and should exchange data to support the core business.
Finally, select the right data integration technology for the job, and do so only after taking everything into account. You'll find that there are both on-premise and on-demand options, and in many instances you may have to mix and match solutions."
There are a lot of options out there. We do not necessarily agree that the hybrid approach is the best way to go. There is no one formula. Standardizing on the cloud has its advantages.
But, still, the over riding issue is really how data passes between systems. Without standards for managing data transfer, the issues Linthicum points out will never go away.