We've all heard the usual objection to cloud computing: "Why the hell should I cede responsibility for security and availability to someone else?" But it's a straw man argument because enterprises do it all the time.
ADP handles payroll for a huge swath of American business; corporations outsource enormous chunks of IT to the big consultancies. Either you trust a service provider, whether it's Amazon Web Services or KPMG, or you don't.
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So after trust, what's the biggest cloud issue? I would argue that it's integration -- at least for the area of cloud computing known as SaaS (software as a service). Naturally, you start by evaluating the features and usability of a SaaS application as you would any other app. If it measures up, the next question is: How well can you integrate the SaaS app's data and processes with the apps already running in your data center?
Application integration is seldom trivial. First you need to get the data integration right, so data about customers, products, and so on can be shared, synced, and reconciled. Then you need to worry about process integration -- when a payment clears in one app, for example, a pick-and-pack order kicks off in another. EAI vendors have been supplying middleware solutions to these problems for decades.
Bob Moul, CEO of Boomi, argues that the best way to integrate locally installed apps with SaaS apps is to enlist a cloud-based middleware provider. His AtomSphere integration platform is a type of SaaS play in itself, with an easy Web interface that enables customers to map data, transform it, and integrate processes among locally installed and cloud-based applications.