Before you ask, let me answer. Yes, cloudwashing is an industry-accepted word now! It is a term that signifies any marketing technique adopted by a vendor to sell you any product by associating the word “cloud” to it. So, as a wary buyer, it is important for you to have a thorough knowledge of the things to ask to make an intelligent decision. But, remember that a product that has the word “cloud” associated with it also does not mean bogus right away.
I had already covered a good set of factors to consider and also a basic checklist to start off with in my earlier post titled “Help! My data is up there…”. Please review that for sure. But, after visiting the recent Gartner AADI event in Las Vegas, I wanted to revisit this topic and elaborate on a few more factors to consider. Specifically, there are three important things that will stump any vendor that is just cloudwashing you and not really offering a true cloud-based product.
- Upgrades – The primary way that you are going to integrate with a SaaS application is via its API or service that it exposes. However, considering that it is a cloud application, upgrades to the product will happen at a much quicker pace than a traditional on-premise application. But, as a consumer of its API, you should not get affected by the periodic changes that happen to the application and inherently, its API too. Understand the frequency of their upgrades and how they manage the API changes. This will be your single biggest maintenance nightmare when it comes to Cloud Services Integration. However, your integration solution should offer you the ability to upgrade to the newer versions of the API seamlessly without making changes to the consumers. So, use that as a major selection criterion for your cloud services integration solution.
- Testing integrations – This will be a key requirement for your cloud services integrations as well. This is something that a lot of companies overlook, thinking that they have a strong testing methodology already in place. Testing integration flows over the cloud and across multiple SaaS and on-premise applications is quite different and very challenging. Most of the SaaS application providers may not offer much in terms of testing, except for sandbox type accounts and servers. However, to solve your problem of testing an integration flow that spans across multiple SaaS and on-premise applications, you need to find out if your cloud services integration solution offers this capability. The solution should be able to perform not just unit testing of such flows but also be able to do other tests such as regression testing and load testing.
- Governance – I briefly touched on this topic in my checklist in my other post. However, this topic can take up a few posts of its own. Governance, as Massimo Pezzini told me, is a set of processes set up to help make decisions. It is also the most widely misused term and can sound confusing in any context. So, let me explain as to what Governance means in this context and why it is important. Within the realm of SaaS applications and other cloud providers, usage-based billing and subscription models are quite common. Given that, your cloud services integration solution needs to track usage of all the service consumption that happens. This helps in identifying bad logic creating costly SaaS API consumption, rogue services using unnecessary bandwidth and also in reconciling with your SaaS providers usage claims. On top of this, Governance has a bigger play in providing a mediation layer for all service consumption. This layer will enforce all types of policies including but not limited to SLAs, Security, Availability, Consumer Identification etc. Use this as your single biggest criterion for selecting a Cloud Services Integration solution.
So, the next time some vendor asks you if you need the works for their Cloudwash session, just cut to the chase and make them sweat. As for my next post, let me know what else you would like me to blog about within Application / Cloud Integration. Adios!