Earlier today, Daryl Plummer introduced a new word into the cloud lexicon: the Cloudstream. Anyone who knows Daryl would agree he is one of the great taxonomists of modern computing. As Group VP and a Gartner Fellow, Darryl is in a unique position to spot trends early. But he’s also sharp enough to recognize when an emerging trend needs classification to bring it to a wider audience. Such is the case with Cloudstream.
In Daryl’s own words:
A Cloudstream is a packaged integration template that provides a description of everything necessary to govern, secure, and manage the interaction between two services at the API level.
A Cloudstream encapsulates all of the details necessary to integrate services—wherever these reside, in the enterprise or in the cloud—and manage these subject to the needs of the business. This means that Cloudstream describes not just the mechanics of integrating data and applications (which is a muddy slog no matter how effective your integration tools are), but also the aspects of security, governance, SLA, visibility, etc that underpin service integration. These are the less obvious, but nonetheless critical components of a real integration exercise. Cloudstream is an articulation of all this detail in a way that abstracts its complexity, but at the same time keeping it available for fine-tuning when it is necessary.
Cloudstream captures integration configuration for cloud brokers, an architectural model that is becoming increasingly popular. Cloud broker technology exists to add value to cloud services, and a Cloudstream neatly packages up the configuration details into something that people can appreciate outside of the narrow hallways of IT. If I interpret Daryl correctly, Cloudstreams may help IT integrate, but it is the business who is the real audience for a Cloudstream.
This implies that Cloudstream is more that simple configuration management. Really, Cloudstream is logical step in the continuing evolution of IT that began with cloud computing. Cloud is successful precisely because it is not about technology; it is about a better model for delivery of services. We technologists may spend our days arguing about the characteristics and merits of different cloud platforms, but at the end of the day cloud will win because it comes with an economic argument that resonates throughout the C-Suite with the power of a Mozart violin concerto played on a Stradivarius.
The problem Daryl identifies is that so many companies—and he names Layer 7 specifically in his list—lead with technology to solve what is fundamentally a business problem. Tech is a game of detail—and I’ve made a career out being good at the detail. But when faced with seemingly endless lists of features, most customers have a hard time distinguishing between this vendor and that. This one has Kerberos according the WS-Security Kerberos Token Profile—but that one has an extra cipher suite for SSL. Comparing feature lists alone, it’s natural to loose sight of the fact that the real problem to be solved was simple integration with Salesforce.com. Daryl intends Cloudstream to up level the integration discussion, but not at the cost of loosing the configuration details that the techies may ultimately need.
I like Daryl’s thinking, and I think he may be on to something with his Cloudstream idea. Here at Layer 7 we’ve been thinking about ways to better package and market integration profiles using our CloudSpan appliances. Appliances, of course, are the ideal platform for cloud broker technology. Daryl’s Cloudstream model might be the right approach to bundle all of the details underlying service integration into an easily deployable package for a Layer 7 CloudSpan appliance. Consider this:
The Problem: I need single sign-on to Salesforce.com.
The Old Solution: Layer 7 offers a Security Token Service (STS) as an on-premise, 1U rackmount or virtual appliance. It supports OASIS SAML browser POST profile for SSO to SaaS applications such as Salesforce.com, Google docs, etc. This product, called CloudConnect, supports initial authentication using username/password, Kerberos tickets, SAML tokens, x509.v3 certificates, or proprietary SSO tokens. It features an on-board identity provider, integration into any LDAP, as well as vendor-specific connectors into Microsoft ActiveDirectory, IBM Tivoli Access Manager, Oracle Access Manager, OpenSSO, Novell Access Manager, RSA ClearTrust, CA Netegrity…. (and so on for at least another page of excruciating detail)
The Cloudstream Solution: Layer 7 offers a CloudStream integrating the enterprise with Salesforce.com.
Which one resonates with the business?
Photo: Jonathan Ogilvie, stock.xchng