Businesses all over the world have been actively considering the adoption of cloud-based solutions for their digital transformation. Therefore, multi-cloud interoperability alongside portability has emerged as the top priority of businesses worldwide. Interoperability and portability are the essential requirements for enabling higher cloud adoption. How? Users involved with an existing cloud service provider could leverage interoperability and portability for using multi-cloud capabilities. 

However, it is important to understand cloud interoperability and portability alongside a clarification of the differences between them. The following post helps you learn about interoperability and portability in the domain of cloud computing with their basic definition. In addition, you can learn about the different types of interoperability and portability in the world of cloud computing. Furthermore, the post also sheds light on the potential scenarios for using interoperability and portability. 

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Difference between Interoperability and Portability

The first thing you need before learning about portability and interoperability in cloud computing would point out the differences between them. As a matter of fact, many people assume that interoperability and portability are interchangeable terms. Interoperability is the ability of two cloud computing service providers to interact with each other to facilitate the exchange of information and messages. 

On the other hand, portability implies the ability to move data and applications. Data portability in cloud computing denotes the ability to move data, such as documents, database tables, and files, between cloud systems while ensuring the usability of data. The definition of application portability indicates the ability to transfer executable software or applications between cloud systems while ensuring usability on destination systems. 

Why Do You Need Cloud Interoperability and Portability?

The discussions about multi-cloud interoperability and portability also invite attention to their necessity in cloud systems. As of 2022, the global cloud computing market is worth $545.8 billion and could expand to almost $1240.9 billion by 2027. On top of it, cloud computing services generate annual revenue of almost $178 billion. At the same time, big players in tech, such as Amazon, Microsoft and Google, have maintained their clout in the cloud computing market. The continuously expanding cloud ecosystem has also introduced many other cloud service providers in the market. 

A detailed understanding of interoperability and portability is an essential step in the process of planning and design of new cloud services and applications. With a detailed impression of cloud computing interoperability use cases and portability applications, businesses could identify the ideal route for planning their solution designs. 

Most important of all, the specific concerns regarding interoperability and portability could help in identifying the features which serve the best fit for new cloud-based solutions. Let us learn more about interoperability and portability in the domain of cloud computing with their detailed definitions. 

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What is Interoperability?

The guides on portability and interoperability in cloud computing would be incomplete without reflecting on the definition of interoperability. Interoperability is the extent to which different systems and components in the cloud ecosystem can work in coordination with each other. According to IEEE and ISO, interoperability is the ability to facilitate seamless information exchange among two or multiple cloud-based systems and applications. 

Interoperability indicates the potential of public and private cloud services alongside other systems in cloud ecosystem to understand each other. What would the services and systems understand about each other through interoperability? Interoperability can facilitate an understanding of application and service interfaces, authentication methods, authorization approaches, and configurations.

The review of cloud interoperability and portability also shows that the interacting components belong to cloud service clients. Customers of cloud services use interoperability to interact with different components of cloud service providers. The cloud service customers can utilize a recommended API or interface for establishing a network connection with the cloud service provider. You can come across multiple interfaces with interoperability use cases, which address distinct aspects of the cloud service. One of the core aspects of interoperability points to the standardization of interfaces which enable easier switching between multiple cloud service providers. 

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What is Portability?

The review of porting applications in cloud computing also requires an in-depth understanding of the definition of portability. Cloud computing portability refers to the ability of cloud service customers to shift and adapt their data and applications among different cloud service platforms. 

On top of it, portability can also enable exchange of data and applications among different cloud deployment models. Without portability, cloud service users have to transform data or applications from the source form into desired form on destination system. How does portability help in resolving these problems?

The technical insights on portability in cloud computing shed light on the distinct categories of data portability and application portability. 

  • Data Portability

Cloud data portability emphasizes the ability for seamless data transfer from one cloud platform to another. Data portability could involve data from the source service matching the format of the destination service. In addition, common portability tools can facilitate simple and easy transformation between incompatible data formats. One of the essential highlights related to cloud computing data portability focuses on abilities to retrieve customer data from source cloud platforms. 

At the same time, portability also relies on abilities to import customer data to the target cloud platform. You can use an API with the cloud service to achieve portability. The API can be generic or a personalized API tailored to the specific cloud service. Remember that the API for source cloud service could not be same as API of the target service, thereby implying the need for distinct tooling for the two platforms. 

  • Application Portability

Application Portability is another important category in understanding cloud interoperability and portability, with special attention to portability. The primary objective of cloud application portability focuses on easier transfer of applications or application components between cloud services. 

Application portability emphasizes the easier movement of applications and components. You could need to recompile the application or relink with target cloud service for portability use cases. However, the good thing is that you don’t have to introduce massive changes in application logic. 

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Types of Cloud Computing Interoperability 

Just like the two prominent categories of cloud computing portability, you can also find different categories of interoperability. The answers to “What is the goal of interoperability in cloud environments?” would become clearly evident with an overview of the following types of cloud interoperability. 

Cloud Computing Interoperability Types

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  • Application Interoperability 

Application interoperability allows interoperability among application components. The application components could be a part of decentralized applications or a monolithic application. The primary design approach for application interoperability aims at improving data visibility and transparency. In addition, multi-cloud interoperability must also facilitate the management of data in transit and at rest. Application interoperability must also focus on addressing the requirements for managing ‘system of record’ sources.

  • Platform Interoperability 

Platform interoperability denotes the interoperability among platform components. It needs standard protocols for facilitating service discovery alongside information exchange. You should also note that platform interoperability is an essential requirement for facilitating application interoperability. 

While a minority of applications use service discovery currently, it is important to focus on ensuring maximum service integration maturity. Service discovery protocols should be compatible with the platforms leveraged by service registries and different applications. On the other hand, information exchange protocols should enable session information transfer, information transport and session development.

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  • Management Interoperability 

Management interoperability is another important highlight in responses to “What is the goal of interoperability in cloud environments?” with significant implications. The interoperability of management focuses on interoperability among cloud services and important programs which focus on implementing on-demand self-service applications. With the growth of cloud computing, enterprises should find new ways for cloud service management in association with in-house systems.

  • Publication and Acquisition Interoperability 

Publication and acquisition interoperability refers to the interoperability among platforms. Generally, cloud service providers utilize marketplaces for publishing their cloud services and associated components. With the availability of standard interfaces to these marketplaces, interoperability could ensure lower costs of cloud computing. 

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Challenges for Interoperability and Portability

The definitions of portability and interoperability in cloud computing show their value benefits for cloud systems. At the same time, it is also important to identify the challenges to interoperability and portability in the cloud ecosystem. Interoperability has to encounter multiple challenges with respect to cloud computing. Most of the APIs with cloud services lack standardization, and different providers use unique APIs. 

You can find the highest interoperability in cloud computing with IaaS cloud services, where you can find multiple standard interfaces. On the other hand, cloud computing interoperability use cases in PaaS cloud services have lower interoperability due to a lack of interface standards. The biggest challenges for interoperability are evident in SaaS platforms due to lack of standard APIs. 

The introduction to porting applications in cloud computing also points to significant challenges for PaaS-based applications. IaaS cloud services can leverage different standards, such as OVF, for portability. On the other hand, PaaS cloud services could have notable differences across different providers with substantial differences in app environment. 

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Use Cases of Interoperability and Portability 

The guides for interoperability and portability in cloud computing also invite attention to their use cases. How can you identify the scenarios where you need interoperability and portability? Here is an outline of the potential situations where you need interoperability and portability.

  • Cloud service customers want to switch between two providers for accessing a cloud service.
  • Interoperability and portability are essential for use cases where the customer wants to leverage cloud services by multiple providers. 
  • The need for cloud interoperability and portability is also evident in situations where customers want to link a cloud service to another cloud platform.     
  • Customers can demand interoperability and portability for linking in-house capabilities with different cloud services.
  • Another important use case of interoperability and portability in cloud computing involves the migration of customer capabilities to cloud services.

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Standards of Cloud Computing Interoperability and Portability 

The most crucial aspect in introductions to portability and cloud computing interoperability use cases would point to standards. As of now, standards for cloud computing interoperability and portability have been focused on the IaaS layer. At the same time, you can find many security standards for interoperability, albeit without any exclusive association with cloud computing. Here are the most prominent standards for interoperability and porting in cloud computing.

  • OVF, or Open Virtualization Format, is a packaging standard for addressing concerns regarding virtual machine portability and deployment.
  • Cloud Data Management Interface or CDMI is a standard for defining the functional interface for applications that would help in creating, retrieving, updating, and deleting data elements.
  • Open Cloud Computing Interface or OCCI standards for interoperability and portability in cloud computing feature a set of open standards. OCCI standards support the definition of protocol and API for different cloud computing management processes.
  • Cloud Application Management for Platforms or CAMP standard helps in defining an interoperable protocol to facilitate application packaging and deployment. 
  • Topology and Orchestration Specification for Cloud Applications or TOSCA is a standard for interoperability in cloud computing. It helps in defining interoperable descriptions of infrastructure and application cloud services and the operational behavior of services.
  • The responses to “What is the goal of interoperability in cloud environments?” would also draw attention to ISO/IEC 19941 standard. It is another important standard validated by ISO for facilitating cloud computing interoperability and portability. 
  • US FIPS 140-2 is a notable interoperability, and portability standard focused on security. The standard helps in specifying the security requirements for cryptographic modules within security systems for safeguarding sensitive data.
  • Cloud Auditing Data Federation, or CADF, is a popular standard for defining open standards in cloud auditing.

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The overview of definitions of cloud interoperability and portability provides a clear description of their importance. Businesses are shifting to the cloud, and the rapid growth of the cloud ecosystem invites the need for interoperability and portability. The two terms provide the foundations for enabling communication between different applications and services in the cloud ecosystem. 

At the same time, it is also important to identify the challenges for interoperability and porting in cloud computing. Furthermore, you must recognize the suitable use cases or scenarios where businesses would need cloud computing interoperability and portability. Learn more about interoperability and portability with cloud computing in detail right now.

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