"The problem right now is there is no interoperability among any clouds," says Bert Armijo, senior vice president of sales and product marketing for 3Tera. Say you write an application specifically for Amazon's Elastic Compute Cloud. Since the code is written specifically for Amazon's platform, "that application is going nowhere," Armijo adds.
Going forward, vendors will have to agree upon a "common set of standards and interfaces" to ensure true interoperability, says IBM cloud computing software chief Kristof Kloeckner.
"In cloud terms, there are some services you receive through a service provider, some services you deliver through an internal cloud, and some that you normally deliver with an internal cloud but you may want overflow capacity for peak times," Kloeckner says. "All this movement of services, applications, and combination of applications only works if all the providers adhere to a common set of standards and interfaces." But today, most public compute clouds are based on virtual machine models that aren't compatible with each other, Kloeckner says.
Mark O'Neill, the CTO of Vordel, says enterprises should be able to use a best-of-breed cloud approach, having applications that span different providers of storage, compute and application hosting platforms.
"Vordel often speaks with customers wishing to make use of best-of-breed cloud services – for example using Amazon for external storage (the S3 service) while using Force.com to pull customer order information into behind-the-firewall applications," ONeill writes in an e-mail. "Key issues are allowing single sign-on across cloud services, for the same application, as well allowing a service running one cloud platform (e.g. a hosted application on Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud) to call a service hosted by another cloud provider (e.g. Google) in a managed manner."
Vordel's XML Gateway is designed to link single applications to multiple cloud services and provide the single-sign on capability mentioned by O'Neill, all without requiring onerous work on the part of developers.
While Vordel's offering is likely useful for many types of customers, O'Neill says his company hasn't tackled the challenge of trying to move applications from one cloud to another, saying "generally that's an unsolved problem across the board."
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