A common fear among potential public cloud customers is being locked into a particular vendor’s cloud. If you use
Software as a Service (SaaS) can you extract your data or transfer data between applications in different clouds in
real-time if required? If you use Platform as a Service are you able to move your software applications and business
logic to another cloud or a private cloud? And with Infrastructure as a Service are you able to move your virtual
servers between clouds? Well, the first SaaS applications were effectively ‘walled gardens’, but with the rise of cloud
computing have come proposals from industry consortia and standards organizations on how clouds may interoperate
so the walls are slowly coming down.
Some examples of cloud interoperability proposals are listed below:
- The Cloud Computing Interoperability Forum (CCIF – http://www.cloudforum.org/) aims to create ‘a common agreed-upon framework/ontology that enables the ability of two or more cloud platforms to exchange information in [a] unified manner’.
- The Distributed Management Task Force’s Open Cloud Standards Incubator (http://www.dmtf.org/about/cloud-incubator) focuses on ‘standardizing interactions between cloud environments by developing cloud resource management protocols, packaging formats and security mechanisms to facilitate interoperability’.
- The Open Cloud Manifesto (http://www.opencloudmanifesto.org/) is an attempt to establish ‘a core set of principles to ensure that organizations will have freedom of choice, flexibility, and openness as they take advantage of cloud computing’. The manifesto is supported by Cisco, IBM, RackSpace, Red Hat, Sun Microsystems,
VMWare and many more cloud providers, big and small.
- The Open Grid Forum’s Open Cloud Computing Interface Working Group (http://www.occi-wg.org/) aims to ‘deliver an API specification for remote management of cloud computing infrastructure, allowing for the development of interoperable tools for common tasks including deployment, autonomic scaling and monitoring’.
Cloud computing providers are now under pressure to be interoperable, but it is worth keeping the exit door in view
whenever you enter a public cloud. One Platform as a Service provider that makes it particularly easy to move
applications away from its cloud is Zoho with their Zoho Creator (http://creator.zoho.com). With Zoho Creator you
can develop simple database applications, download them as a zip file and then upload them into Google’s cloud. As
for private clouds, you can choose between proprietary cloud management software and open-source software, if
vendor lock-in is a consideration; but make sure that the software supports interoperability, too, so you can move
services into public clouds if required.