Sunday, March 20, 2011

To the Cloud......

I have just returned from the MVP summit held in Redmond each year, there were some highlights and some low lights, as with each summit. The highlights are always all the cool new stuff, most of which I’m not allowed to talk about publicly, which is great (NOT), it does mean I can’t say much on the blog. I can only say what has already been announced publicly at PDC, Microsoft is doing the cloud thing, the next off the conveyer belt is composite apps, what’s in the box, wait and see, I will say it’s interesting, and then more interesting when you add in the comments of the MVP’s present when they told us how interesting it was.

We are talking about the cloud here, and of course I want to run apps on it, I want to run workflow in the cloud, I’ve wanted this since they had it a few years back, and then took it away because it was so limited. It makes sense, in the right scenario.

I also want to access my applications inside the organisation (on premise), provide a rich integration layer to them, to enable my cloud apps to communicate with my on premise systems.

This kind of application is called a hybrid model, and it is/will become very common. I would like to use the same technology I use in the cloud to do the whole integration and workflow as I do to access my on premise applications. Currently I use BizTalk for my on Premise applications and then have to write something different to enable my cloud applications to do this, hence the use of the term “Hybrid” it’s using a bit of both. This is currently possible by various means of the service bus in windows Azure and the new bits to enable BizTalk to expose a port or Orchestration on the service bus to accept connections. I can then establish a communications pattern into my organisation’s “legacy” on premise applications.

My problem with this approach is detailed in my recent webcast at my on premise middleware still needs to exist, and it needs to scale in line with my cloud system, it’s not 1:1 more like 2-3(cloud instances):1(on Premise) but it needs to scale, hence I need to still invest in on premise hardware, however I don’t want to have to scale it I want to leverage the cloud to scale on demand, and scale back when I don’t need it. It’s one of the key selling factors for using the cloud.

Whilst I cannot put everything in the cloud, it’s never going to happen, I want to have the option of scaling to the cloud and then scaling back to on premise when I have low load levels, hence justifying my on premise costs.

I do have this for websites in the cloud; this is a little more difficult for an integration platform that needs to access legacy systems and is written in a non-cloud friendly way.

I would love to provide this on the cloud, but this is one ask that is some time away which ever provider you look at. My view is whoever cracks this will dominate the cloud market.

The rest of the detail will come…. I don’t know when and I can’t say how but it’ll come wait and see, with more announcements coming…. It’s how you leverage the cloud to work for you that will make the real difference in adopting a cloud/hybrid model or not.

Integration is a hard sell enough, to add cloud to the mix makes it even harder, I’m not the only one out there trying this on, customers are not buying yet, and the amount of convincing, assurances and explaining needed is staggering.

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