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April 17, 2015

Solving interoperability in a multi vendor Cloud market

Standardisation is key to solving interoperability issues.

By James Nunns

Cloud adoption is growing and so is the use of multiple vendors being used within one organisation. This model has some perceived perks such as more competitive costing, more solutions to fit your needs and reducing the risk of downtime.

However, issues with this method can be found when looking at interoperability which can be difficult to achieve, particularly without a management platform in place and in some cases even with this.

David Treybig, Director, Business Operations & Development at CenturyLink EMEA, writes in his piece, "Multi-Cloud Management: Is this Cloud Nirvana?" that some options such as shifting workloads cannot be achieved.

Treybig, says: "Workloads cannot simply be shifted from one place to another, even if the "ideal" of cloud suggests otherwise."

The need for interoperability and standardisation is one that is gaining more attention as migrating applications can be a tedious task for enterprises. While there have been calls for this from the industry from organisations such as SAP, it has yet to arrive.

For market analysts Kable, the major problem is that the cloud model is based on virtualisation and that each cloud platform is deploying a different hypervisor and virtual machine, which are not interoperable.

Due to this lack of standardisation, the market has seen some cloud vendors such as VMware, creating their own API’s. However, this will result in vendor lock in and is clearly something that organisations wanting multiple vendors will not want.

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Tools are being developed to combat this problem; IBM has a cloud storage migration tool while Microsoft has its own that helps customers to migrate Windows Server workloads from VMware and AWS environments, into Azure.


The case has been made that the multi vendor strategy offers more competition and therefore more competitive prices’, however, this may be something of a fallacy.

Sungard recently revealed that UK businesses are experiencing hidden and unplanned costs with cloud spending.

Keith Tilley, Executive Vice President, Global Sales & CSM at Sungard Availability Services, said: "By getting caught up in the hype, some organisations were quick to adopt the cloud without linking it back to their wider business goals and failed to see the additional considerations such as interoperability, availability and the operational expenditure linked to cloud."

Costs arising from integrating cloud solutions from multiple vendors and the affect your services have on your internet connectivity can result in unforeseen costs.

If your multi-vendor system is placing a high burden on your internet connection, then this may result in low connectivity and system slowdown.

Leading on from that, organisations could find higher levels of customer dissatisfaction and increased churn rates, this is likely to add to the cost of deploying cloud services.


Vendors’ are aware of these issues and many will be working on solutions to remedy problems with interoperability. However, it seems unlikely this will be resolved effectively, or at any great pace.

While interoperability may throw up issues for the organisations which have multiple vendors, this is actually an opportunity for some of the larger providers such as Microsoft, to provide a solution in the form of management platform, although it will come at a cost.

Treybig, suggest that open-source PaaS and containers may be a more suitable approach than the multi-cloud management approach at the infrastructure layer.

Cloud Foundry and Docker offer broad capability to move apps around between infrastructure providers. Due to their open-source nature, these offer a wide amount of options and capabilities which are frequently added to, which is due to large numbers of contributors.

Treybig, says: "PaaS, therefore, rather than multi-cloud management should be an essential component to the long-term vision of any cloud strategy."

"The incremental gains from multi-cloud infrastructure are no doubt helpful, but are not enough on its own, and definitely not a nirvana within which to carry out a successful cloud strategy."

"Instead, using the benefits of a multi-cloud world through application instances and containers are where true transformative and competitive advantage lies."

Of course, one solution that would truly benefit organisations would be standardisation, however, this would require for some parties to significantly alter their strategies and solutions, so it is unlikely to be remedied by this.


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