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Introduction to Cloud Computing Issues and Challenges

Cloud computing is a common term you hear about on and off. And professionals use it without even knowing about the actual concept. So to put it in simple words, it is storing, accessing, and managing huge amounts of data and software applications over the internet. In this technology, the entire data is secured by firewall networks. You can use the Software without using your computer’s hard drive, as the Software and data are installed in worldwide data centers.

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However, there is a minor gap between success and failure in businesses. Selection of the right technology takes your business to new heights, while a few mistakes land your business in trouble. Every technology comes with baggage of some pros and cons. Similarly, it too comes with its share of issues despite being a core strength of some business industries. It also can create some major problems under some rare circumstances. Issues and challenges of cloud computing are characterized as ghosts in the cloud. Let us talk in brief about some real-life ghosts of cloud computing.

Real-Life Ghosts of Cloud Computing

Here we have discussed some real-life ghosts of cloud computing.

1. Data Security concern

When we talk about the security concern of cloud technology, many questions remain unanswered. Multiple serious threats like virus attacks and client site hacking are the biggest cloud computing data security issues. Entrepreneurs must consider these issues before adopting cloud computing technology for their business. Since you are transferring your company’s important details to a third party, it is important to ensure yourself about the manageability and security system of the cloud.

2. Selecting the perfect cloud setup

Choosing the appropriate cloud mechanism per your business’s needs is very necessary. There are three types of clouds configuration such as public, private, and hybrid. The main secret behind successful cloud implementation is picking up the right one. You may face severe hazards if you do not select the right cloud. Some companies have vast data and prefer private clouds, while small organizations usually use public clouds. A few companies like to go for a balanced approach with hybrid clouds. Choose a cloud computing consulting service that is aware of and discloses the terms and conditions regarding cloud implementation and data security.

3. Real-time monitoring requirements

In some agencies, it is required to monitor their system in real-time. It is a compulsory term for their business that they continuously monitor and maintain their inventory system. Banks and some government agencies need to update their system in real-time, but cloud service providers cannot match this requirement. This is a big challenge for cloud service providers.

4. Resolving the stress

Every organization wants to have proper control and access to the data. Handing your precious data to a third party is not easy. The central tension between enterprises and executives is their desire to control the new modes of operations while using technology. These tensions are not unsolvable, but they suggest that providers and clients alike must deliberately address a suite of cloud challenges in the planning, contracting, and managing of the services.

5. Reliability on new technology

It is a fact of human nature that we trust the things present in front of our eyes. Usually, entrepreneurs hesitate to let out organizational information to any unknown service provider. They think information stored in their office premises is more secure and easily accessible. By using cloud computing, they fear losing control over the data. They believe that data is taken from them and handover to an unknown third party. Security threats increase because they do not know where the information is stored and processed. These frights of the unknown service providers must very amicably be dealt with and eliminated from their minds.

6. Dependency on service providers

You must acquire vendor services with proper infrastructural and technical expertise for uninterrupted services and adequate working. An authorized vendor who can meet the security standards set by your company’s internal policies and government agencies. While selecting the service provider, you must carefully read the service level agreement and understand their policies and terms and provision of compensation in case of any outage or lock-in clauses.

7. Cultural obstacles 8. Cost barrier

You have to bear the high bandwidth charges for efficient working of this. Businesses can cut down the hardware cost, but they must spend a lot on bandwidth. The cost is not a big issue for smaller applications but is a primary concern for large and complex applications. It would be best to have sufficient bandwidth to transfer complex and intensive data over the network. This is a major obstacle for small organizations, which restricts them from implementing cloud technology in their business.

9. Lack of knowledge and expertise

Every organization does not have sufficient knowledge about implementing cloud solutions. They have no expert staff and tools for properly using cloud technology. Delivering the information and selecting the right cloud is challenging without the right direction. Teaching your staff about the process and tools of cloud computing is a huge challenge. Requiring an organization to shift their business to cloud-based technology without proper knowledge is like asking for disaster. They would never use this technology for their business functions.

10. Consumption basis services charges

Cloud computing services are on-demand, so it isn’t easy to define the specific costs for a particular quantity of services. These types of fluctuations and price differences implement cloud computing complicated. It is difficult for a normal business owner to study consistent demand and changes with the seasons and various events. So it is hard to budget for a service that could consume several months of budget in a few days of heavy use.

11. Alleviate the risk of the threat

Certifying that the cloud service provider meets security and threat risk standards is very complicated. Every organization may not have enough mechanisms to mitigate these types of threats. Organizations should observe and examine the threats very seriously. There are mainly two types of threats: internal threats within the organizations and external threats from professional hackers seeking important information about your business. These threats and security risks put a check on implementing cloud solutions.

12. Unauthorised service providers

It is a new concept for most business organizations. An ordinary businessman is not able to verify the genuineness of the service provider agency. It’s difficult for them to check whether the vendors meet the security standards. They do not have an ICT consultant to evaluate the vendors against the worldwide criteria. It is necessary to verify that the vendor must be operating this business for a sufficient time without having any negative record in the past. The vendor continues business without any data loss complaints and has several satisfied clients. The market reputation of the vendor should be unblemished.

13. Hacking of brand

It carries some major risk factors like hacking. Some professional hackers can hack the application by breaking the efficient firewalls and stealing the organizations’ sensitive information. A cloud provider hosts numerous clients; each can be affected by actions taken against any one of them. When any threat comes into the central server, it affects all the other clients. In a distributed denial of service attacks, server requests inundate a provider from widely distributed computers.

14. Recovery of lost data 15. Data portability

Every person wants to leverage migrating in and out of the cloud. Ensuring data portability is very necessary. Usually, clients complain about being locked in the cloud technology from where they cannot switch without restraints. There should be no lock-in period for switching the cloud. Cloud technology must have the capability to integrate efficiently with the on-premises. The clients must have a valid contract of data portability with the provider and an updated copy of the data to switch service providers, should there be any urgent requirement.

16. Cloud management

Managing a cloud is not an easy task. It consists of a lot of technical challenges. A lot of dramatic predictions are famous about the impact of cloud computing. People think that traditional IT departments will be outdated, and research supports the conclusion that cloud impacts are likely to be more gradual and less linear. Cloud services can easily change and be updated by business users. It does not involve any direct involvement of the IT department. A service provider is responsible for managing the information and spreading it across the organization. So it isn’t easy to manage all the complex functionality of cloud computing

17. Dealing with lock-ins

Cloud providers have a significant additional incentive to attempt to exploit lock-ins. A prefixed switching cost is always there for any company receiving external services. Exit strategies and lock-in risks are primary concerns for companies looking to exploit cloud computing.

18. Transparency of service provider

There is no transparency in the service provider’s infrastructure and service area. You cannot see the exact location where your data is stored or being processed. It is a big challenge for an organization to transfer its business information to an unknown vendor.

19. Transforming the data into the virtual setup

The transition of business data from a premise to a virtual setup is a significant issue for various organizations. Data migration and network configuration are the severe problems behind avoiding cloud computing technology.

20. Popularization

The idea of the cloud has been famous that there is a rush to implement virtualization amongst CIOs. This has led to more complexities than solutions. These are some common problems regarding cloud computing execution in real life. But the benefits of cloud computing are vaster in comparison to these hazards. So you should find the perfect solutions and avail the tremendous benefits of cloud technology in your business. It can take your business to new heights!!

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Cloud Computing And Service Level Agreements (Slas)

A service level agreement (SLA) is a technical services performance contract. SLAs can be internal between an in-house IT team and end-users, or can be external between IT and service providers such as cloud computing vendors. Formal and detailed SLAs are particularly important with cloud computing providers, since these infrastructures are large scale and can seriously impact customer businesses should something go awry. In the case of cloud computing, SLAs differ depending on a specific provider’s set of services and customer business needs. However, all SLAs should at a minimum cover cloud performance speed and responsiveness, application availability and uptime, data durability, support agreements, and exits. A carefully crafted SLA is an essential element in effective monitoring of cloud governance and compliance.

Customers will provide their key performance indicators (KPI), and customer and provider will negotiate related service level objectives (SLO). Automated policies enforce processes to meet the SLOs, and issues alerts and reports when an agreed-upon action fails. Cloud computing providers will usually have standard SLAs. IT should review them along with their legal counsel. If the SLAs are acceptable as is, sign it and you’re done. However, companies at any stage of cloud adoption will likely want to negotiate specific requirements into their SLAs, as the vendor SLA will be in favor of the provider. (For help choosing the cloud company that suits your business needs, read our comprehensive guide to cloud computing.) Be especially careful about general statements in the standard SLA, such as stating the cloud’s maximum amount of customer computing resources, but not mentioning how many resources are already allocated. Not every cloud computing provider will automatically agree to your requirements, but most customers can make good-faith negotiated agreements with providers. Quality of service depends on knowing what you need and how they will provide it.

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This example of a cloud computing SLA details numerous technical details of the cloud agreement.

A service level agreement is not the time for general statements. Assign specific and measurable metrics in each area, which allows both you and the provider to benchmark quality of service. SLAs should also include remediation for failing agreements, not only from the cloud provider but from the customers as well if they fail to keep up their end of the bargain. Cloud computing users should specifically review these items in a cloud computing SLA:

Availability and uptime. These are not precisely the same thing. A computing service may be up, but a customer may not be able to access an application. Specify that not only must the cloud service be up a certain percentage of time (and/or or within specific time periods), but your applications and data must be available within these same percentages. Common examples include 99.99% during work days and 99.9% for nights and weekends. However, if you run an ecommerce site and/or work 24x7x365, you may have higher expectations. Disaster Recovery options are also important to uptime and availability. If you invest in the provider’s failover services, include agreements over spin-up time and speed of recovery.

Network changes. No customer wants to hear about “planned downtime,” and cloud providers dynamically scale their equipment. However, things go wrong and you can request that the provider informs you of major upgrades or changes.

Support agreements. Cloud computing providers have 24×7 support in place but don’t make assumptions about the quality of the help center. Corporate IT calling with a problem is at an entirely different level than a new computer user who doesn’t understand how to sync their files. Must you both start with 1st level support? Or can you negotiate a dedicated team for your company?

Measurements. Set specific performance measurements based on baselines. Don’t leave your important metrics like application response time to chance, but don’t measure essentially useless information either. Agree on the scope and frequency of performance and availability reports. Many companies will also want regular compliance and audit reports.

Security and privacy. The data owner – your company – is ultimately responsible for data loss or theft, so know how your provider handles your data security and privacy. Strong user authentication is critical as is data encryption, anti-virus/malware, and patching. The cloud provider should also have active intrusion detection and InfoSec teams who know how to run it. Privacy is also important. If you are based in the U.S. with a remote location in France, check with your provider to see if they can geo-locate specific data sets to comply with national privacy laws. Write cloud service level agreements around those capabilities.

Exit strategy. Include agreements on dispute mediation and escalation and maintain an exit strategy that includes a smooth transition to another cloud provider. The last thing you want is for a cloud provider to hold your data even when you’ve fulfilled your contractual obligations.

Service credits are the most common way for a cloud computing provider to reimburse a customer because the provider failed an agreement. The reason for the failure is an issue, since the provider will rarely issue credits if the failure was out of their control. Terrorist acts and natural disasters are common exclusions. Of course, the more data centers that a service provider has, and the more redundant your data is, the less likely that a tornado will affect your data.

Protects both parties. When internal IT deploys a new application, they work closely with end users to make sure everything is working. They track application success by emails and phone calls, and if there is a problem they get on the phone with the vendor to solve it. However, it doesn’t work like that with a business customer and their cloud provider. An SLA details expectations and reporting, so the customer knows exactly what to expect and what everyone’s responsibilities are.

Guarantees service level objectives. The cloud provider agrees to the customer’s SLOs and can prove it reached them. If there is a problem, then there is a clear response and solution mechanism. This also protects the provider. If a customer saved money by agreeing to a 48-hour data recovery window for some of their applications, then the provider is entirely within its rights if it takes 47 hours.

Quality of service. The customer does not have to guess or assume levels of service. They get frequent reports on the metrics that are meaningful to them. And if the cloud computing provider fails an agreement, then the customer has recourse via negotiated penalties. Although these penalties will not necessarily replace lost revenue, they can be excellent motivators when the cloud computing provider is paying $3,000 a day while a service is down.

SLAs are a critical part of any service offering to an internal or external client, and are particularly important between a business and its cloud computing provider. Don’t let the cloud SLA be a battleground of assumptions and mistaken expectations. Negotiate and clarify agreements with your provider. Be reasonable without being blindly trusting, and the SLA will protect both of your businesses as it is meant to do.

Cloud Computing: Amazon’s Cloudy Future

Amazon had to prepare for peak traffic, but how could they monetize that excess capacity during non-peak times? With the rise of cloud computing, they found their answer, and Amazon Web Serviceswas born.

“It’s pretty close to an accidental empire,” said Dana Gardner, president and principal analyst of research firm Interarbor Solutions.

“The excess capacity point is a common misperception and not at all why we started Amazon Web Services,” said Kay Kinton, PR manager, Amazon Web Services.

“Developers here at Amazon have spent over a decade building out the infrastructure to run our own Web-scale application, chúng tôi In that time we’ve learned a great deal about how to operate very efficiently at very high scale. We started Amazon Web Services because we feel that we can provide tremendous value to developers given the experience, expertise, and assets Amazon has acquired over the past fourteen years.”

(I don’t mean to put Breen and Gardner on the spot here. Both mentioned up front that this was a word-on-the-street sort of story, and they didn’t know the particulars. As far as I’m concerned, the main difference between the two versions is intention. Accidental or not, the major plot points remain the same.)

Regardless of the creation story, the fact is that Amazon’s business strategy since getting into cloud computing is anything but accidental.

In this era of “Webification,” where everything that can move to the Web does – and preferably as a service – being a cloud provider means many different things to many different people.

What it means to Amazon is, first and foremost, on-demand capacity. Be it server, storage or database capacity, Amazon will give it to you in a cost-effective and flexible manner.

What Amazon does not do is deliver applications. Amazon’s cloud offering is perfect for developers, less so for everyone else.

Is that, however, a bad thing?

“I don’t see their approach as a drawback,” Gardner said. “Compare what Amazon does to SaaS. SaaS is model of delivering applications. As Amazon sees it, cloud computing is about delivering capacity.”

To emphasize his point, Gardner compared Amazon to the early days of Microsoft. It may be difficult to remember, but at first Microsoft delivered an operating system and not applications. Lotus Notes, WordPerfect and others pioneered the application space. Only later, after Windows had a firm hold on the operating system market, did Microsoft start to divide and conquer everything else.

“The lesson is that you don’t want to compete with your customers, at least not at first,” Gardner said. “Why make a little bit of money on applications when what the market really wants today is cheap capacity?”

“Amazon needs to decide whether cloud computing is a hobby or a business,” said Nik Simpson, an analyst with the Burton Group.

“At the moment their entire infrastructure is hosted, I think, in two data centers, one of which is much larger than the other. If one data center goes down, do they have the capacity to handle everything in the other?”

As Simpson sees it, while Amazon has a ton of capacity, they may be missing the boat on some of the things that the enterprise demands, such as high availability and failover. For SMBs and developers testing projects, the low cost makes this a reasonable tradeoff. Yet for enterprise customers curious about the cost savings associated with Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) and Simple Storage Service(S3), the risk may trump the low cost.

Amazon, predictably, believes it is already enterprise ready. Amazon argues that they offer failover capability, noting (in Amazon-speak) that they “currently expose 6 different ‘Availability Zones’ to customers in two different regions.”

Cloud Computing And Saas: Why Are Businesses Pivoting Software

With pandemic acting as catalyst, SaaS adoption is witnessing a commendable rise

Cloud is one of the hottest buzzwords in the tech-powered 21st century. Amid the coronavirus mayhem of 2023, many organizations turned to cloud platforms and applications as the panacea to the challenge of protecting employees’ health while equipping them with the tools to remain productive in WFH condition. In business jargon, cloud computing refers to using a vendor’s ready-made remote servers, which are located in a data center, to store, manage, and process data, instead of a local server or a personal computer. So, one can consider it as a type of ‘hardware-as-a-service.’ However, the definition of cloud computing still remains ambiguous. A web developer will describe it in a manner that may not be similar to that of a database admin nor system admin. But one thing is certain: the

IaaS vs PaaS vs SaaS

As cloud becomes an integral cog to business growth, owing to its flexibility, simplicity and diverse choice, it is being included in many organizational frameworks for the same. There are three major approaches to using cloud-based services.

Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)

Platform as a Service (PaaS)

Software as a Service (SaaS)

IaaS offers computational power, storage and networking on demand — thus eliminating the high cost of maintaining, staffing and providing power and cooling for an in-house data center if the service is provided externally. In comparison, PaaS includes development tools, database management, business analytics. This allows developers to focus on software design, development and deployment, without the cost and complexity of buying and managing the underlying hardware, software, provisioning and hosting. And by including hosted services,

Vertical SaaS: These SaaS applications serve a specific industry like healthcare or financial institutions.

Horizontal SaaS: These SaaS applications serve a specific market such as office productivity or customer relationship management.

Benefits of SaaS

Some of the key benefits of SaaS are accessibility, compatibility, and operational management. It also does not cause loss of data due to equipment failure. Moreover, it is very easy to get started with a SaaS application. To illustrate this, consider a scenario where you have to go grocery shopping. This errand includes, driving to a selected or preferred grocery store, walking down aisles to pick groceries, stand in queue for billing and payment and return home. This is equivalent to traditional on-premise services, whereas, in the SaaS model, one can opt for online grocery shopping at the comfort of your home. Some of the popular SaaS examples include, Salesforce, Qwilr, Google G Suite, Workday, Zendesk, Slack, Microsoft Office 365.

Cloud is one of the hottest buzzwords in the tech-powered 21st century. Amid the coronavirus mayhem of 2023, many organizations turned to cloud platforms and applications as the panacea to the challenge of protecting employees’ health while equipping them with the tools to remain productive in WFH condition. In business jargon, cloud computing refers to using a vendor’s ready-made remote servers, which are located in a data center, to store, manage, and process data, instead of a local server or a personal computer. So, one can consider it as a type of ‘hardware-as-a-service.’ However, the definition of cloud computing still remains ambiguous. A web developer will describe it in a manner that may not be similar to that of a database admin nor system admin. But one thing is certain: the cloud does offer an array of services that can be accessed by a user anytime and anywhere. All she will need is a reliable internet connection, preferably one with higher bandwidth and low chúng tôi cloud becomes an integral cog to business growth, owing to its flexibility, simplicity and diverse choice, it is being included in many organizational frameworks for the same. There are three major approaches to using cloud-based chúng tôi offers computational power, storage and networking on demand — thus eliminating the high cost of maintaining, staffing and providing power and cooling for an in-house data center if the service is provided externally. In comparison, PaaS includes development tools, database management, business analytics. This allows developers to focus on software design, development and deployment, without the cost and complexity of buying and managing the underlying hardware, software, provisioning and hosting. And by including hosted services, SaaS provides businesses with direct access to the applications by employees, partners or clients. Companies use IaaS, PaaS or SaaS as per their requirement. Since SaaS applications are centrally managed on the cloud, there are no licenses or upgrades to maintain. Also one doesn’t need to download SaaS software on a desktop PC or business network to run – implying lower upfront costs. Companies generally access applications on a subscription basis, making it ideal for business software like email, instant messaging and customer relationship management (CRM). There are two distinct types of SaaS applications, viz.,:Some of the key benefits of SaaS are accessibility, compatibility, and operational management. It also does not cause loss of data due to equipment failure. Moreover, it is very easy to get started with a SaaS application. To illustrate this, consider a scenario where you have to go grocery shopping. This errand includes, driving to a selected or preferred grocery store, walking down aisles to pick groceries, stand in queue for billing and payment and return home. This is equivalent to traditional on-premise services, whereas, in the SaaS model, one can opt for online grocery shopping at the comfort of your home. Some of the popular SaaS examples include, Salesforce, Qwilr, Google G Suite, Workday, Zendesk, Slack, Microsoft Office 365. SaaS can help users involved in the gig economy by allowing accessibility to sophisticated software, applications, and tools vital to the management of their respective businesses. It can also help large organizations transfer some of the costs of software development and maintenance to third parties and concentrate resources on managing and securing data. It also allows business teams to create virtual collaborative workspaces with their own additional level of access control. A recent report by SiliconAngle highlights that the leading names like Salesforce, Workday had impressive runs during the pandemic crisis. However, in the second half of February 2023, these vendors didn’t deliver as expected. Amid the new market challenges and waning enthusiasm, SaaS providers need to get innovative to overcome its shortcomings and take steps to restore the user and stockholders’ faith. Current challenges include heavy reliance on internet, lower degree of control, lack of integration support, vendor lock-in and few others. Addressing these concerns can help in boosting the SaaS adoption market to new heights.

Workday Releases Integrated Cloud Computing Solution

Recognizing broad integration as an essential ingredient to modern business agility, Workday today delivered a set of cloud-based integration capabilities to its partner ecosystem and growing stable of software-as-a-service (SaaS) ERP users.

The Workday Integration Cloud Platform is joined by a graphical tools suite designed to broaden the use of integration by more types of workers so they — as well as IT — can build and deploy the desired integrations that best support processes among and between businesses.

Workday is using its SaaS-based enterprise solutions for human resources, payroll, and financial management as a beachhead for popularizing integration platform as a service (iPaaS). The goal is to allow for complex, custom integrations to be built using Workday tools and then be deployed and managed in the Workday Cloud. [Disclosure: Workday is a sponsor of BriefingsDirect podcasts.]

Opening up integration functions to more users on the front lines of business-to-business requirements empowers those workers. But providing those integration capabilities on a common enterprise cloud environment — one that exploits enterprise service bus (ESB) technology and SOA benefits — gives the users freedom without risk of chaos or lack of control and management.

Incidentally, I’ll be on a live webinar this Wednesday at 2 pm ET on the general topic of integration platform as a service (iPaaS) and cloud-based computing approaches. Sign up to watch the panel discussion.

While business-to-business integration is a key requirement for how companies support their employees — with complex interactions across suppliers for payroll, benefits, and recruitment — the data and access control in human resources systems proves an essential ingredient for making general integrations become more automated and safe. The new cloud integration services and toolsallow customers and partners to build, deploy, run and manage custom integrations for the numerous systems and applications that connect to and from Workday.

The bottleneck of IT-administered integrations based on installed integration platforms does not seem up to this task.

Cloud Storage and Backup Benefits

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But Workday executives say that “the sky is the limit” on where cloud-based integration — that is part and parcel with applications services — can go. And the timing is pretty hot. That’s because we’re seeing that companies are focused on the business process level more, and that the resources, assets, participants and interfaces that support those processes are more varied and distributed than ever.

The challenge, then, is not just middleware integrations amid a more complex and dynamic environment, but of integrating more types of services and resources from more places by more people. The bottleneck of IT-administered integrations based on installed integration platforms does not seem up to this task. The integration requirements need to shift right along with the elements that support “boundaryless” processes.

Beat the complexity

Additionally, the historic separations of data integration, application integration and web services interoperability and access need to come together better. Those tasked with crafting and adapting business processes need to architect across the domains of integration, not be hobbled by the complexity and incompatibility among and between them. Logic and data need to play well together regardless of where they reside or how their underlying technology behaves.

In order to accomplish these new requirements, an uber integration capability that can be leveraged by various IT constituents amid an ecosystem – not installed by any or all those IT environments – appears the best and fastest approach. An integration platform in the cloud that can be leveraged and managed with enterprise-caliber security and access control at the process level can solve these vexing problems, for data, process, workflow, collaboration and traditional integration methods.

Cloud-based integration can turn IT into a rapid enabler of process innovation, rather than a costly bottleneck.

Embedding the integrations as core features of the common applications architecture also frees up the lock-in from the database integration hairball that often builds around on-premises n-tier architectures. The brittle nature of such custom integrations has also driven up the cost of computing significantly, while holding back companies from adopting new technology at a business pace, rather than an integrations pace.

That’s why iPaaS and a multi-tenancy cloud environment can be a powerful productivity enhancer: businesses can far better create relationships between their organizations and pursue process innovations without the need to adjust a vast hairball of legacy software. Cloud-based integration can turn IT into a rapid enabler of process innovation, rather than a costly bottleneck.

Furthermore, the need to address people, process and technology concerns is cliche for all IT activities, but perhaps most important for how process integrations really work. Who gets to integrate what and how, and who can give permissions for cross-organizational interactions has been a thorny issue. Workday’s approach to cloud integration building leverages permissions and policy-driven access and governance to make integration crafting a more mainstream corporate competency.

Benefits of multi-tenancy

Because Workday’s SaaS offerings are architected on multi-tenancy operational model, whereby all users and partners to the Workday services and applications are in synch on versions and updates, integrations can be made and amended with far less complexity. A major deterrent for legacy-based EAI and middleware integrations is in the risk and complexity of making integrations that break when its time to upgrade apps or platforms.

And while APIsand lightweight connectors have been a huge benefit in recent years, the APIs interactions are not always enough for enterprise-level process integrations. There’s also the problem of API sprawl, and the need to manage the interactions holistically and comprehensively.

It’s the processes, after all, that count most and should be easy to safely make, remake and iterate on.

In a nutshell, Workday is working to break the integration-platform-database-applications vise that can hinder and bind enterprises and governments. The relations need to go deeper than APIs. Solving this is no small feat, but it may be one of the greatest long-term benefits of the cloud computing model, both in terms of cost and agility. It’s the processes, after all, that count most and should be easy to safely make, remake and iterate on.

It’s time that agile integration become a feature of more applications, rather than a hand-crafted after-market exercise at the complex database and middleware tiers. And if that can happen quicker and better as a cloud-based iPaaS model, I’m all for it.

Collaboration moves to services level

The need to effectively cobble together services, data, participants and logic and management in business processes needs to go beyond the over-burdened IT team. Social media trends show us that productivity comes from allowing individuals to reach out and craft new and better ways of doing things, of being collaborative wherever and however they can to support their goals.

Already we’re seeing self-motivated users integrate through outside entities, Facebook and Google apps being a prime examples. They are also accessing their own apps and data via web and mobile apps and via app stores. More data is being generated and stored in a variety of clouds and/or partners, and so the need to integrate the data from and amid third parties is an imperative, especially to gain comprehensive analytics. We need to both manage and examine Big Data as well as Far-Flung Data. Integration is a huge part of that.

As I mentioned, I’ll be on a live webinar this Wednesday at 2 pm ET on the general topic of integration platform as a service (iPaaS) and cloud-based computing approaches. Sign up to watch the panel discussion.

Dana Gardner is president and principal analyst at Interarbor Solutions, an enterprise IT analysis, market research, and consulting firm. Gardner, a leading identifier of software and cloud productivity trends and new IT business growth opportunities, honed his skills and refined his insights as an industry analyst, pundit, and news editor covering the emerging software development and enterprise infrastructure arenas for the last 18 years. This article was originally published on Gardner’s Briefings Direct blog.

Cloud Computing: The Ever Expanding Buzzword

In the old days, say 2006, the term cloud computing referred to essentially one thing. To use the cloud, you accessed software over the Internet – “over the cloud.” The applications were always located in a remote location, sort of like Dick Cheney.

A couple years ago I interviewed Tim O’Brien, director of Microsoft’s Platform Strategy Group, about Redmond’s nascent cloud strategy. At the time, the cloud computing train was leaving the station and Microsoft knew it had to get on board. (Its recent Azure initiative being the most tangible result.) Amid the company’s fits and starts, O’Brien was clear in how he used the term: cloud computing meant accessing software outsidethe firewall.

But that straightforward definition has been lost to the sands of time, or at least the sandstorm of vendor excitement. As cloud computing has emerged as a red hot trend, tech vendors of every stripe have painted the term ‘cloud’ on their products, much like food brands all tout that they’re ‘low fat.’

Cloud variations keep expanding. Now we not only have Software as a Service (SaaS), but also Platform as a Service (PaaS), Hardware as a Service (HaaS) and Application as a Service (AaaS). (Actually, there is no AaaS, because even hype-crazed vendors know that it’s one acronym too far.)

Nick Carr, the IT guru and ardent cheerleader for the cloud, has even suggested the term Cloud as a Feature, or CaaF. A CaaF application combines elements that are installed on your hard drive with elements accessed over the Web. For instance, he posits that Google Earth is “kind of CaaFy.” If the term CaaF catches on, some day a poor tech blogger will write a post titled “Is your Software CaaFeinated?” That’s a day we must dread.

But of all the oddness in the gold rush of cloudspeak, the most disconcerting is how the term has lost its basic meaning as an external resource. Cloud computing can now be external or internal. That’s right, forward looking companies can now access the cloud without leaving home.

I recently spoke with Ed Walsh, the CEO of Virtual Iron, a scrappy but back-of-the-pack virtualization software firm. He used the phrase ‘build out a cloud’ to mean the same as ‘virtualizing your datacenter.’ Yet virtualization takes place inside the firewall. Virtualization software enables a server to handle multiple operating systems, and allows a roomful of servers to become a single pooled resource instead of discrete hunks of hardware. Plenty of companies are excited about virtualization – it’s a clear money saver – but are leery of cloud computing, with its hornet’s nest of security risks.

So I had to double-check with Ed about his usage: You’re using virtualization and cloudto mean the exact same thing?

“Server virtualization is more of a base technology and depending on who you talk to, they mention it in different ways,” he told me. “People say, ‘Hey, I want to take a set of server resources, pool it together, and have it seamlessly be a resource pool that I put applications on. And that could be an internal cloud. Or it can be an external cloud.”

Hmmm…internal orexternal? “Cloud becomes this word they use,” he conceded.

I also recently spoke with Ed Sims, a VC and managing partner of Dawntreader Ventures, with $290 million under management. Given that he’s always looking for hot young companies to bankroll, he’s been eyeing some cloud start-ups. “I was talking to one company that allows you to run your own cloud, in your own datacenter, and make it look like it’s an instance of Amazon EC2 or Google AppEngine,” he told me. “It’s a very nascent, early play.”

That makes sense, yet again, his use of the term was shape-shifting the cloud concept. “It’s all within, or it can be without [the firewall],” Sims said, agreeing that ‘cloud’ is now used in myriad ways.

“Obviously it’s the buzzword du jour so you have to be careful about it,” he said.

But how can you be careful about a term that now refers to something that takes place internally, or externally, or – if you accept Nick Carr’s term CaaF – a combination of the two? At some point the term gets so broad that we need to stop calling it ‘cloud computing’ and simply call it ‘computing’ – because every form of computing is an instance of cloud computing. The phrase is beginning to collapse under the weight of the multitudinous things it refers to.

David Smith, an analyst with Gartner who has written extensively about cloud computing, says the term has indeed gotten stretched.

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