Services hold key to cloud computing success

Many enterprises cite the number of applications and databases that exist in the cloud, but that's only half of the story

Cloud computing is, at its core, a new take on an old model (timesharing) for consuming IT resources, but for many enterprises, it requires a new architecture based on services rather than apps. As cloud computing evolves, we'll become more accustomed to viewing our tech needs through the prism of services, but right now, it's a departure for many in enterprise IT as they move from single monolithic applications to collections of widely distributed services, cloud and otherwise.

Most cloud-based systems are sets of services hosted in remote sites, mixed and matched with internal systems to form a business application. Thus, the best way to measure utilization of cloud computing resources is to count services, not applications.

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Take a simple inventory application: It may reside on a traditional database (such as Oracle) within the enterprise, while the services that process the data exist within Amazon EC2. Moreover, the user interface may live on a PaaS provider such as Google App Engine.

While this may seem complex, it's normal for cloud-based applications to be spread across internal resources and a public cloud or even several public clouds. The key, then, to understanding utilization is to look at the number of cloud-based services leveraged by the application.

As enterprises migrate to cloud computing, bits and pieces of an application will make the move, rather than the complete application. For instance, a company could leverage a service from a public cloud provider to provide stock price data for an application or for storage purposes.

Over time, other application services will find their way in public clouds, which often provide the best value as a platform. While many enterprises will talk about whole system migration, most will take service-by-service baby steps. That's the way we should measure the movement to cloud computing.

This article, "Services hold key to cloud computing success," originally appeared at InfoWorld.com. Read more of David Linthicum's Cloud Computing blog and track the latest developments in cloud computing at InfoWorld.com. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.

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