The early stirrings of cloud computing are beginning to take place – with mixed results. Totally contained cloud services, such as salesforce.com, Concur and Transversal show how full service functions held in the cloud can facilitate processes within a business without the need for implementing and maintaining costly hardware platforms – but is this going to be the case going forward?
The problems will grow as cloud becomes less contained. If there is a move toward the “composite application” – one where different functions are brought together on the fly to deal with a process issue – there will be a whole new raft of issues that will need to be dealt with.
In figure 1, the way a composite application works is outlined. A user, through their access device, makes a request for a task or for a process to be dealt with. This will generally be handled through a trusted partner who will take responsibility for identifying and pulling together the functions that are required to facilitate that task or process. Some of these functions may already be available within the user’s own data centre (through a private cloud, or just through a standard function in an existing application), others may be hosted by the aggregator themselves; many will not. It may well be that other providers already pull together multiple functions to provide a “functional assembly” that can deal with a bigger part of the task.