The Cloud Fragmentation – How To Work Together
Cloud computing is rapidly gaining popularity and all major players in the industry are noticing. It is obvious that this paradigm will be the driving force for business in the coming decade mainly due to the proliferation of the internet and the mobile market space. This growth is quite substantial and looks to be still in a great state of change where new applications and technology will still be developed and introduced, and in no small part thanks to social media. Social media is really the driving force for all these technology as it is the ultimate information delivery platform. Web applications and even consumer electronic hardware are being developed around social networking and media, and all the data and information circulating around its ecosystem are growing larger each day. A lot of experts would probably disagree with me here, but I think that this is the Data Gravity dynamic that we see at play here; the information and data around social networking and media has grown immensely that its mass is attracting new services and technology towards it.
As with every coin, there are two sides to this phenomenon – a good and a bad. The good news is that this growth is a big sign of progress and will only usher in new developments and better technology for the end user, leading to more choices and healthy competition. But the bad side is unfortunately also creeping along those lines. Diversity is not always a good thing because it leads to complexity, and that is really bad most of the time. What I am getting to here is fragmentation, the sheer number of choices leads to confusion and compatibility issues especially for data format critical systems used in business. It’s all well and good for the end user, but business executives and CIO’s will be scratching their heads and pulling their beards trying to figure out ways to get around this problem. When you have multiple systems and each using a different cloud service from a different cloud service provider, you are positioning yourself in such a way that it becomes inevitable that you shoot yourself in the foot. Sure it would be easy to choose one provider and stick with it, but in the long run you may need the services of another, then another, and eventually you would need for all of those services to work together. And then BANG, shot in the foot. Two things will happen, one is that you (the company) cope and still stand on one leg while the other heal, or crumple into the ground dazed and unable to get up.
Because of the perceived profitability of cloud computing, all major players in the industry are quickly bringing their own flavor into the cloud including Google, Microsoft, HP, Amazon, IBM, Cisco, and VMWare to name but a few. Some of these companies are pioneers in the field but they still lend to the overall fragmentation. What this essentially means is that not all of the services that these companies and those like them offer are compatible, in any way, making it almost impossible to switch providers when the need arises. You will see data lock-ins being more prolific as service providers try and retain the customers they have. So they will try to find ways to make it hard for you to transfer your data to other providers, effectively making you a long term customer and forcing you to avail of other services.
This problem can be attributed to the lack of standards in the field, which can also be attributed to the fragmentation. It’s a vicious cycle that could collapse if not looked into soon. Let’s take for example, cell phones with Bluetooth, no matter who manufactured that phone, you can bet that it will be able to communicate with a phone made by another manufacturer 100% of the time barring service outages. This is because of standard communication protocols, which is sadly missing in cloud computing. Sure, it still uses the common networking protocols for communication, but the services themselves and how they are programmed and set up is not made to work with other services by other companies. It would take a lot of man-hours and considerable technical knowledge in order to migrate services and applications to other providers.
By Abdul Salam
He has recently co-authored: Deploying and Managing a Cloud Infrastructure: Real-World Skills for the CompTIA Cloud+ Certification (Wiley).