When deciding on the best approach to deliver cloud services, it may be helpful to draw on the advice of American rapper Vanilla Ice. Indeed, it is important for cloud applications to collaborate and listen – with each other as well as with on-premise solutions. The integration challenge has become a prominent concern and barrier to cloud infrastructure services, and overcoming this obstacle will not come without significant changes to IT environments.

Vanilla Ice may have had plenty to say about the value of collaboration, but his music was, unfortunately, light on the integration challenges faced by cloud users. For that type of insight, it may be worth turning to ITBusinessEdge contributor Arthur Cole, who recently highlighted the importance of shifting away from siloed architectures and to a hybrid cloud model.

"New generations of data center hardware are also providing built-in synchronization with popular cloud storage platforms," Cole wrote. "For example, Egnyte released the latest version of its enterprise storage solution featuring Google Drive document collaboration capabilities, providing IT managers with a single-view management tool to keep track of file, folder and log-in activities."

Similarly, market opportunities have opened up for companies that bill themselves on integration. Cole highlighted the recent addition of SwiftStack's private cloud storage offering to Silicon Mechanics' family of high-performance computing platforms. He noted the value of hardware-agnostic management controls, which greatly facilitate integration.

Just as the applications themselves must collaborate, technology vendors have recognized the value in working together to create more innovative and cost-effective solutions than they otherwise would. For instance, both Egnyte and Silicon Mechanics are Seagate Cloud Builder Alliance Partners.

Other partnerships have the potential to pave the way for innovation in areas ranging from entertainment to education. For example, cloud storage company Box recently launched a collaborative initiative with universities and other technology companies to build educational cloud apps. Box Senior Vice President Whitney Bouck emphasized the need to integrate technology with the classroom, giving students more control of how and when they learn.

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