Cloud Portability and Interoperability- Why it Matters?

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Cloud computing

Many businesses are migrating towards cloud-based solutions to drive the digital transformation, attain a competitive edge, and cultivate business growth. But, for every business on the cloud, there comes a question of which cloud service provider to go with.

With a variety of cloud service providers in this cloud ecosystem, the services offered vary among them. Some offer extra features, while others are cost-efficient.

Before transitioning your business to the cloud, you must be aware of all the features the service provider offers. It would be best if you chose the service providers in such a way that you do not face a lock-in, a state where there is a risk of being locked to that vendor permanently.

For instance, if a services provider offers only a limited number of web frameworks, libraries, and databases, there are possibilities for your applications to become non-portable. Therefore, portability and interoperability are becoming critical success factors for the future adaptability of cloud computing.

First, let’s understand what they mean.

What is portability?

Cloud portability is the ability to transfer applications, files, and data from one cloud server to another or between own systems and the cloud. You can differentiate portability into two broad areas:

  1. Data portability

Every business that is on the cloud has tons of data stored on the cloud servers. Data portability is the ability to transfer the data in or out of the cloud environments to the customers’ system or between two different cloud environments.

2. Application portability

It is the ability to move and run the app code to or from the cloud environment between the service providers. There might be a possibility the application requires recompiling, but no major changes should be required while transferring the application to another cloud service. 

What is interoperability?

It is the ability of two or more applications to exchange information and mutually use the exchanged data. In terms of cloud, interoperability means that the customers must be able to share/exchange their data and files between private and shared networks without any loss of information.

Suppose an enterprise consists of public cloud, private cloud, or hybrid cloud servers. In that case, they should be able to understand each other’s interfaces, configurations, and data formats to be able to exchange information with each other. 

Now, let’s look at how it matters:

  1. Cost

Whether you wish to migrate your business to cloud platforms, or transition from one cloud environment to another, it would require moving all your applications and data. Some cloud service providers charge an additional fee other than their pricing models to do so.

Non-portable cloud environments might turn out to be costly as compared to the ones that allow you to switch the providers as per your convenience. For example, a cloud environment that offers only a limited number of frameworks, APIs, and databases might force the developers to create application architectures offering dedicated functionalities per that environment.

While on the other hand, the developer can build the same application at a lower cost by using the libraries provided by a different service provider.

2. Mobility

For the service providers, the capability of moving the customers’ data from one environment to the other must be of utmost priority. Since different service providers use various APIs and interfaces, it can be challenging to exchange information between two different cloud models such as IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS.

It is essential for cloud service providers to undertake a number of standard protocols to reduce inter-dependencies while moving data within different environments.

3. Security

From a security perspective, the customers must consider techniques such as Single Sign-In (SSO) and added security solutions. Different cloud providers consider different security standards, authentication techniques, and encryption technologies. So, it is recommended to verify the vendor’s security history to avoid any data breaches.

Moreover, you should also consider the security measures applied while transferring the data from one environment to the other should also be kept into consideration.

For example, suppose a customer decides to migrate from Cloud A to Cloud B. In that case, the vendor must encrypt the data before transferring from one data center to another, and it should be decrypted only via a required key. Also, both cloud service providers must mutually support the encryption technology for a smoother transition of files.

4. Risks

Following strategies such as using end-to-end encryption, regularly updating the in-house software, and using the latest Operating Systems (OS) can be the first step to protect your data.

Before choosing the cloud service providers, you must also ensure that they follow the industry standards to avoid a lock-in situation, making it difficult for you to switch providers later when required. The cloud ecosystem offers various capabilities and functionalities. The goal of achieving portability and interoperability is to enable the customers to choose the right cloud service provider and avoid vendor lock-in. It is necessary to plan and choose the right environment to offer your business enhanced flexibility and agility.