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Monday, August 6, 2012

3 first steps in building your own cloud services

Businesses that want to double as cloud computing providers must take three fundamental measures

These days, I'm running into more than a few innovative enterprises looking to stand up their own cloud computing services or APIs for consumption outside of the business. In essence, enterprises are becoming cloud computing providers.

Enterprises are standing up cloud services in support of new business opportunities, such as better supply chain integration, better customer service, or even the ability to charge a subscription fee for access to bits and pieces of their existing information systems that may be of value to outside users. In doing so, they may also gain a client list that includes partners, customers, or even unknown users leveraging these services for a fee.

Whatever the business reason, an enterprise has a few initial steps to consider before launching a commercial cloud:

Step 1: Determine the purpose of the cloud service, and map out basic use cases. This may seem like common sense, but many enterprises move forward without a good plan or foundational design. Remember: You're taking on the same responsibilities as the larger public computing providers; thus, splurge on design and planning cycles for your initial projects.

Step 2: Determine what information will be externalized, including where the data exists, how you'll get to it, and any security or governance issues. This means understanding the physical location of the data, the metadata, and the proper integration path from the source systems to those hosting the cloud service.

Step 3: Create an API/service management strategy, such as selecting the best path for externalization and management. This typically means the mechanisms for exposing the services, including what technology will be in place. A number of providers offer API management technology, both as software and out of the cloud. However, the more important issue to consider is how the services will be managed during production, including validating user access and guarding against service saturation. Service governance technology is available to address these questions.
Of course, there is a lot more to the process, depending on your ultimate goal. However, if you begin with these fundamental steps you'll find that you're well on your way.

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