by Bill Appleton • July 18, 2014
My previous blog covered the new trend of cloud platform vendors creating developer facing services in an attempt to lock customers into proprietary interfaces. The danger for enterprise customers is that switching costs will rise, and this will reduce the flexibility and increase the cost of application deployments. Proprietary interfaces will reduce the compatibility between public, private, and hybrid cloud installations as well. But there is a great solution to this problem: a service platform like DreamFactory can abstract all of the connections to backend data sources and provide a virtualization layer at the service level. This allows applications to migrate between clouds, servers, and databases with ease.
Before we dive in, there are other interesting forms of virtualization that should be mentioned. For example, VMware provides virtualization at the operating system level. Their virtual machines are highly portable between computers, because every host looks the same to every guest. A more recent development is Docker, an open-source project that automates the deployment of applications inside Linux software containers. Docker provides virtualization and packaging at the application process level.
And by the way, DreamFactory works great with both VMware and Docker. We have a virtual appliance for VMware and are also available in the VMware marketplace. Docker is quite new, but we are working on a Docker package that will be available soon. We also have buildpacks in production for the PaaS ecosystem. All of this simply means that the DreamFactory software package can be installed on any cloud, server, or data center.
There are additional advantages to using the DreamFactory Services Platform. Now developers have a single REST interface for all of these backend systems. They can use a new service without building or even learning a new API. They have a single user authentication model with roles and permissions. They have a single security model through SSO. All master credentials to backend systems are securely hidden by the platform.
What if an application needs to be moved from one cloud vendor to another? From development, to testing, to production? From inside to outside the firewall? Between geographies or data centers? From your data center to the cloud, or from the cloud to your data center? An enterprise needs the flexibility to change services as needed without disruption or expense.
In order to solve this problem first you need an easy way to run your service platform anywhere. We have been hard at work on this problem, and now support a huge number of operating systems, including Red Hat Enterprise Linux, Ubuntu, Cent OS, Debian, OS X Desktop, Windows Desktop, VMware virtual appliances, and even WAMP. And we have been selected for inclusion in multiple cloud marketplaces including: Red Hat’s OpenShift Marketplace, IBM’s Cloud Marketplace, Amazon Web Services Marketplace, Microsoft’s VM Depot, Rackspace Marketplace, Bitnami Marketplace, and the VMware Marketplace.
Once DreamFactory is installed, a wide variety of application migration senarios become possible. For example, consider moving an application from development, to testing, to production. You could set up DreamFactory running on a desktop for development using a local database. When ready, you pack up the application and move to a cloud server for testing with another database. When ready, the exact same code could be moved to the production server and database. In each environment the application runs in the same service environment, but the backend connections to the various databases change.
So there you have it. DreamFactory is a great way to avoid getting locked in to proprietary interfaces. We do this in three ways. First, DreamFactory is an open-source software product. So you can’t get locked in there. Second, we support a wide variety of software environments and operating systems, so you can move between servers with ease. And lastly, we abstract all of the databases and backend services, so you can switch between SQL databases, NoSQL databases, and file storage systems without disrupting your front end application.
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