Cloud Integration Advances
The New Reality for Customer Engagement
Elsewhere, CIOs are seeking other cloud integration advances. Frank Wander, corporate CIO for The Guardian Life Insurance Co. of America, has implemented a variety of SaaS services, with the latest being ServiceNow's IT service-management application. Yet, when it comes to infrastructure, Wander believes establishing a virtualized private cloud is the right first step while waiting for infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) providers to be able to handle Guardian's complex environment.
In the meantime, he'd like to see tools for transferring workloads between a company's internal cloud and external cloud resources such as EC2, which he's considering tapping for temporary processing capacity to perform risk analysis. "That type of bridging software, where we could take a workload and move it into the cloud seamlessly, would be a great help," says Wander.
Help is on the way there, too, says Dan Kusnetzky, distinguished analyst with the Kusnetzky Group. Today, vendors backing standards such as VMware's Open Virtualization Format (OVF) and the Linux-centric kernel-based virtual machine (KVM) infrastructure claim their machines are the most reliable. By 2015, one or the other is likely to have established widespread acceptance, making the transfer of virtual machines much easier. "Those battles should have been fought by then," says Kusnetzky.
Meanwhile, Citrix Systems in October introduced a cloud-bridging tool, OpenCloud Bridge. However, because it requires that both sides of the data transfer be running Citrix's NetScaler server technology, it's not compatible with many cloud services.
Even small companies find that the cloud can't do all they need. Mountz Torque, a San Jose, Calif.-based maker of custom fastening tools, moved its entire business onto NetSuite's small-business cloud service in 2006 after the vendor added a stock-management feature. Now, CFO Gregg Johnson, who also acts as the 60-employee company's one-man IT shop, says he wouldn't even consider bringing anything back in-house.
That said, he'd love to see NetSuite integrate with Success Factors, a cloud-based performance appraisal application Mountz recently began using. Given NetSuite's past willingness to add to its service for Mountz, it's likely the vendor will deliver on his wish, which will only strengthen his support for the cloud. "I don't see how anyone can go wrong with cloud computing," says Johnson.
A growing number of big-company CIOs agree, and as cloud vendors bend to their will with a steady flow of management tools, assurance-packed contracts and increased interoperability over the next few years, that number will only get bigger.
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