Interoperability and Cloud Services

Interoperability in a general sense is the ability of an infrastructure to be able to connect and communicate with another structure without something translating, or restricting access. It is designed for a service to be formatted to allow cross-platform communication, in simpler terms. Word and Pages were not always interoperable, but rich text formatting was interoperable between the two. The ability for data to be moved from one format to another without a middle man is a key element. The other element for many service providers is access, if their product would be the dominant culture. The dominant cultural product would want to restrict certain information to maximize their products capabilities. So for something to be interoperable the data must be easily moved, and all of the data must be available; which is difficult for businesses to manage.

Each Cloud Service is going to want to showcase a unique product to their customer base. Essentially they will want to carve out a niche, if not become the primary provider; to do that they need to have a unique and powerful offering.

For a Cloud provider to be able to distinguish their service from others is paramount to be able to thrive in this new culture. With most new industries there is a relatively massive push and pull between different standards. Like the classic examples of Apple and Microsoft or even VHS and Betamax; this polar competition is a rough approximation to the standardization issues in interoperability of Cloud Services. In he Cloud world there is a much larger variety of services, even types of services, but the nitty-gritty of the issues is a need for a company to distinguish themselves amongst their competitors.

The vendor of a particular Cloud service may feel that they have a nifty offering, and they wouldn’t want to create an inferior product to meet an industry standard. Now if there ever is an industry standard, each company will have to decide if portability of offerings is necessary for them to compete with other services. They will be deciding between the particulars of their offering and the offerings needed to port from their competitors. But being able to move from a competitor also means the ability for their customers to move to one of their competitors. Not surprising the ability for your data, software, or platform to communicate and integrate with other services is the main difficulty with moving it. Portability is the ability to port or move your data from one system to another, not surprising the main issue with portability is interoperability. I am using data in a very general sense, it can mean literally the information stored on an Saas system, or the programs that are stored in a Paas system, for instance. The interoperability of your data wedges into this issue of porting information from one system to another. There are strides being made into interoperability, a growing desire from parts of the industry to have a standard to ease interoperability.

As a vendor of a Cloud service you have to consider whether you are utilizing the best practices as well as what is good for your company. Your company may be able to beat out competitors by having the best services provided and then the adoption of a standard set of services necessary for interoperability might cut down on the services offered. A company could end up giving a competitive edge over in search of complying to an industry standard. So, the need to be interoperable is not a task to consider lightly. There are many standardizations that would be good for a consumer but not necessarily for a vendor.

Popular cloud computing services: SaaS (Software as a Service)

One of the reasons the ‘Cloud’ has become such a ubiquitous term is the Saas model. Some people are beginning to think Saas should not be thought of as a part of the Cloud packages at all, because it provides in some respects a different type of service than Paas or Iaas.

Saas or Software as a service is the most basic service, essentially it is a cloud offering that individuals or companies can use to standardize routine tasks or services.  An email client might use this type of cloud packaging because the basics of client needs to work across platforms.  Essentially Saas is a data storage, offering specific software that uploads and downloads from the general server.  The whole process is streamlined by the Cloud provider.  The Cloud provider is doing all the developing for the software; while in Paas the platform can do some of the work– Saas takes this beyond the scope of what Paas provides.  Saas is really just the data storage aspect of the Cloud offering where the data is limited in scope to the type of software the Saas is providing.

The Saas model, in fact most Cloud based services, rely upon the use of some software interface for the client that uploads and downloads from the Cloud.  The Cloud operator utilizes intelligent software to handle data from the clients.  Examples include GoogleDrive, iCloud, or an application store; all these services remotely hold data and software in the cloud that the client is able to upload and download from.  It takes little know-how to operate many of Saas Cloud operations the Cloud is able to manage and essentially streamlines aspects of business operations.

Interoperability and security are still issues with the Saas model.  A problem with Saas is the use of software precludes or interferes with control over your data.  The software operator remains in control of formatting the software.  The data a customer puts onto the Cloud is read by their own network through a pre-designed software client, so porting or moving customers’ data is a cumbersome process.  As portability is a problem for all Cloud services the service of your particular Cloud host is an extremely important decision.

What a Saas customer must keep in mind is that they are limited by the software they are using.  If, for-instance, one wanted to port data or use their information in any particular way, they would need to design their own system for accessing the information for personal use.  Porting data from an Saas Cloud provider is a significant concern for the customer.  On the other hand, the software service is already pre-packaged into the product so the customer does not have to worry about setting up a system.  And usually a customer using Saas will be looking to outsource significant amounts of IT needs to the Cloud provider.
As Cloud customers come from all walks of life, the client base for a provider is not limited to a company.

But many individuals use a Saas in their day to day operations. Saas is such a ubiquitous model that many people are using it without knowing it has a particular designation.  Whether  Saas should be considered in step with the other services is up in the air, but the basics of a Cloud service are there.  The Cloud host usually maintains a large server or servers to hold the that is being sent through its operation, and the client accesses that data as way of interfacing with data, often in the form of communications.  The Cloud is a nascent industry with new issues cropping up routinely.