When Clouds Collide: Managing Multiple Cloud Computing Services
When it comes to cloud computing services, some organizations prefer not to use one provider for all their IT needs and put all their proverbial eggs in one basket. However, if you use multiple cloud computing providers, there are several questions you must ask, including:
- Will the applications work compatibly in multiple clouds?
- Who's responsible for problem determination?
- Will data security suffer as a result?
This guest article is written by Jeff Huckaby, CEO, rackAID LLC, and is the second in a series (See “Holistic Approach to Cloud Computing”) of cloud computing experts who share their expertise on how organizations can securely conduct their business using cloud computing services.
How to manage multiple cloud providers
Cloud sprawl is certainly a challenge for SMBs. While our own business has access to multiple cloud infrastructures, we still use cloud-based software solutions for specific tasks. A huge challenge is integration. When it comes to integration, the API (application programming interface or the interface between different software programs that facilitates their interaction) is king.
After a cloud service provider meets your core requirements, the next most important thing is their API.
Evaluating a cloud provider’s integration capabilities:
- Do they have good documentation? Do they provide working examples for common tasks?
- What are the API access methods? Ask if your multiple vendors' API's use the same protocols? Trying to mix and match access protocols can make future integration more challenging.
- How has the API developed? Is there a clear road map for new features? How quickly are bugs fixed?
- How many people use the API? You don't want to be one of a handful of customers using the API.
- Is integration a two-way street? Often you can pull/push data from cloud service vendors but not both. Make sure data synchronization can flow as needed for your integration.
- How do other people integrate? You may find that there is already a company that specializes in integrating service offerings for your industry. For example, in IT service management, there are companies providing professional service automation platforms that plug into a variety of vendors.
Of course there are many other concerns, but if you want to integrate, a well documented, well maintained, and flexible API is key. We are currently facing this challenge as we pull together services our different vendors. Had I used the checklist above before we got started, I am sure we would have saved a lot of time and money.
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