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Australian Journal of Basic and Applied Sciences, 9(16) Special 2015, Pages: 36-43


Australian Journal of Basic and Applied Sciences

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Challenges in Achieving Interoperability in Cloud Computing

Dileep, V.K. and 2Dr. R.V. Sivabalan
Assistant Professor, Dept. of CSE, LBSITW, Poojappura, Thiruvananthapuram
Associate Professor, Dept. of Computer Applications, Noorul Islam University


Article history: Cloud computing is a relatively new paradigm that promises to alter the way IT services
Received 20 January 2015 are provided. There are multiple benefits that companies can gain from cloud
Accepted 02 April 2015 computing. However, there still remain a number of issues to be solved before this new
Published 20 May 2015 computing paradigm is widely adopted. This paper discusses one of the issues-
interoperability of applications. Now there is no such assessment framework to
Keywords: determine which system has achieved what level of interoperability. Here discusses
Interoperability, Cloud Computing various approaches and standards used in achieving some degree of interoperability, as
Cloud Standards well as issues in cloud interoperability. This paper conducts a detailed literature review
on interoperability in cloud systems and then presents technical challenges together
with many managerial issues remain an obstacle to achieving complete interoperability.

© 2015 AENSI Publisher All rights reserved.

To Cite This Article: Dileep, V.K. and Dr. R.V. Sivabalan., Challenges in Achieving Interoperability in Cloud Computing. Aust. J. Basic
& Appl. Sci., 9(16): 36-43, 2015

INTRODUCTION mechanism between clouds is called ―Intercloud‖.

Interoperability between clouds can provide:
Cloud computing has emerged as a computation • Better Quality of Service
paradigm to deliver on-demand resources to • Avoidance of vendor lock-in.
customers similar to other utilities such as water, • Enabling inter-cloud Resource Sharing
electricity etc. Three main services are provided by Currently, there are no implicit interoperability
the Cloud computing architecture according to the standards for heterogeneous cloud computing
needs of IT customers (Buyya et al., 2009). architectures to promote Intercloud interoperability.
Typically, cloud computing consists of the three
cloud layers infrastructure (IaaS), platform (PaaS) Need For Interoperability:
and software (SaaS) as service (Armburst et al., There are several business decisions which may
2009) (Buyya et al., 2011). lead to a change in providers. Some reasons for this
A cloud delivers on-demand services ranging change include:
from software to platform or infrastructure services  Increase in cost at contract renewal time
(SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS) over the internet. Cloud  A provider suddenly closes services being used,
computing is defined by the National Institute of without acceptable migration plans.
Standards and Technology(NIST) as a model that  Failure to meet key performance requirements or
enables ubiquitous, convenient, on-demand network achieve service level agreements (SLAs).
access to a shared pool of configurable computing Every new cloud service provider have their
resources (P. Mell and T. Grance, 2011). Cloud own way on how a user or cloud application interacts
Computing aims to deliver a network of virtual with their cloud leading to cloud API propagation
services so that users can access them from anywhere (AV Parameswaran and Asheesh Chaddha, 2009).
in the world on subscription at competitive costs Interoperability is defined as the ability of a
depending on their Quality of Service requirements collection of communicating entities to share
(Buyya et al., 2009). Currently, the cloud specified information and operate on it according to
environments include hundreds of individual, shared operational semantics in order to achieve a
heterogeneous, private/hybrid clouds with finite specified purpose in a given context (Petcu, 2011).
physical resources, but for the future expansion of Ensuring operational integrity across these
the application scope of cloud services require boundaries as processing needs move into the cloud
cooperation between the clouds. This interoperability

Corresponding Author: Dileep V.K., Assistant Professor, CSE Dept., LBSITW, Poojappura, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala,
Mob: +91 9447323003, E-mail:
37 Dileep V.K. and Dr. R.V. Sivabalan, 2015
Australian Journal of Basic and Applied Sciences, 9(16) Special 2015, Pages: 36-43

is a critical consideration which can be addressed environments inside their enterprises and to be able
through interoperability. to pick up a VM and move it, regardless of the
underlying platform.
What is Interoperability? Enterprises have to make changes in their
The term of interoperability has many programming tools to adapt to a cloud model but, IT
definitions in literature (Petcu, 2011) and is often staffers will likely want to avoid a wholesale change.
misused to include the term of portability. Platform as a Service clouds provide new
Interoperability is the ability of a service to interact application frameworks and APIs that provide
with other services offered either by the same special cloud functionality. In order to to leverage
provider or other providers. It is more qualitative and these APIs, existing applications need to be modified
can be defined by user experience (S.K.Garg et al., which is generally a difficult and expensive
2013). procedure.
Service Interoperability means customers can With the desire for tight coordination between
use services across multiple clouds using a common on-premises and off-premises resources in a hybrid
framework. It applies to all three Cloud Computing cloud, management must become more unified. This
service models but the meaning and the requirements requires that clouds follow existing management
varies in each model. In the IaaS model clients have standards — and that they also should be "open" to
the ability to use the infrastructure of different clouds third-party management applications.
and control them as if they were one. A simple Customers will need to ensure that the cloud
example is that the client has control over several provides appropriate standards to support data
virtual machines that helps to encapsulate the export, along with data conversion from one format
computational resources from different clouds. In to another, as well as compatible or abstracted
PaaS, service interoperability is about enabling the storage-access services.
clients to use different APIs, tools, libraries etc. from Customers need to be aware of the restrictions
different platforms ported in different clouds in order and problems that license portability may have on
to create applications. Finally, in the SaaS model, their use of cloud, and work with their ISVs to
interoperability refers to enabling cloud applications implement new policies that are cloud-friendly.
to exchange messages or data between the clouds.
Interoperability impacts often arise within cloud Interoperability issues related to various cloud
computing when changing business needs drive the components (Jean Bozman, 2010):
need for changing a service provider. Lack of  Hardware–When hardware must be addressed
interoperability can lead to being locked to one cloud makes sure that the same or better physical and
service provider. The degree to which administrative security controls exist when moving
interoperability can be achieved or maintained when from one provider to another.
considering a cloud project often will depend on the  Virtualization – While virtualization can remove
degree to which a cloud provider uses open, or concerns about physical hardware, distinct
published, architectures and protocols. Refer for a differences exist between common hypervisors.
moment to the Jericho Cloud Cube which defines a Consider using open virtualization formats to ensure
means for differentiating between cloud models. The interoperability.
Cloud Cube defines an axis that identifies two  Frameworks – Different platform providers offer
degrees for interoperability as ―proprietary‖ and different cloud application frameworks and
―open‖ (, 2009). differences do exist between them. Use open and
When appropriate interoperability between published APIs to ensure the broadest support for
components is attained, companies can effectively interoperability between components and to facilitate
deploy cloud solutions from a single cloud provider migrating applications and data should changing a
or from many providers as best meets their needs. service provider become necessary.
Through interoperability, all components will require  Storage – Storage requirements will be different
appropriate orchestration in order to operate correctly for different types of data. Store unstructured data in
and securely regardless of where they are hosted or an established portable format for both reduced
on what platform. storage and transfer requirements. Use interoperable
data compression for data moved to and from the
Issues in Interoperability (Smith, James D, 2006): cloud. Ensure the storage format selected
The following issues have been identified as a interoperates regardless of the underlying platform.
hindrance or challenge in the adoption and Check for compatible database systems and assess
implementation of interoperability (Jean Bozman, conversion requirements if needed.
2010).  Security – Data and applications in the cloud
The virtual machine (VM) is becoming a reside on systems which have only limited control
fundamental unit of work and encapsulation, over. Make sure authentication controls for system
particularly for IaaS and some PaaS clouds. and ensure compatible user account access
Customers today prefer mixed virtualization credentials for continued and consistent system
38 Dileep V.K. and Dr. R.V. Sivabalan, 2015
Australian Journal of Basic and Applied Sciences, 9(16) Special 2015, Pages: 36-43

access integrity and security. Use the way of PaaS, SaaS) or deployment models (private, public,
encryption to protect sensitive data moved to the and hybrid) and location (internal or external to the
cloud. Use only interoperable encryption that protect enterprise). One of the key factors to cloud
data and files regardless of the platform, storage interoperability is data portability.
systems, or location where it resides. API security
keys used for calls to services requiring Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS):
authentication should interoperate and appropriate The cloud provider should provide standardized
maintenance and protections of keys must exist on hardware and computing resources that can interact
new platforms. Data integrity measures should be with various distinct systems with minimal efforts.
incorporated to ensure data remains unaltered while The Cloud provider should stick on to industry
in the cloud. Where native document formats do not standards to uphold interoperability. The provider
support digital signing, protect documents in should be able to support scenarios such as cloud
interoperable formats that do. brokerage, cloud bursting, hybrid clouds, multi-
cloud federation etc.
Why Do Interoperability Matter?  In order to keep interoperability in IaaS,
Interoperability must be an important issue in virtualization compatibility must be ensured. This
the cloud migration to either public, private, or includes practices of provisioning and de-
hybrid cloud solutions. They are important elements provisioning of virtual machine images.
to consider for service model selection regardless of  Be aware of the practices used for
whether a migration strategy is to Software as a decommissioning of disks and storage devices.
Service (SaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), or  Identify with hardware/platform based
Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS). Failure to dependencies before migration of the
appropriately address interoperability in a cloud application/data.
migration may result in failure to achieve the desired  Know options to resume service with the legacy
benefits of moving to the cloud. cloud provider in part or in whole if new service
Factors that should be avoided are (CSA, 2011): proves to be inferior.
 Vendor lock-in – you cannot easily move from  Value costs involved for data migration
the selected cloud to a cloud offering from another  Realize what security is provided and who
vendor in future. maintains access to encryption keys
 Processing incompatibility and conflicts causing
disruption of service provider, platform or Platform as a Service (PaaS):
application differences may expose problems that The cloud provider is responsible to provide a
cause applications to malfunction if a new cloud platform on which the consumers can build their
platform is chosen systems. They provide with a runtime environment
 Unexpected application re-engineering– moving and an integrated application stack. It allows
to a new cloud provider can introduce a need to developers to quickly develop and deploy custom
rework how a process functions or require coding applications on the offered platforms without the
changes to retain original behaviors need to build the infrastructure.
 Costly data migration or data conversion - lack  Use platform components with a standard
of interoperable formats may lead to unplanned data syntax, open APIs, and open standards.
changes.  Be aware of what tools are available for secure
 Retraining or retooling of new application or data transfer, backup, and restore.
management software  Know how base services like monitoring,
 Loss of data or application security – different logging, and auditing would transfer over to a new
security policy or control, key management or data vendor.
protection between providers may open undiscovered  Protect data using standard encryption formats
security gaps when moving to a new provider or and retain control of all encryption keys
platform. To ensure interoperability of data in transit  Identify with control functions provided by the
to, and stored within the cloud, make sure data is legacy cloud provider and how they would translate
protected before placing it in the cloud and make to the new provider.
sure keys remain within the hands of authorized  Be aware of how testing will be completed prior
company staff. to and after migration, to verify that the services or
applications are operating correctly. Ensure that both
Interoperability in Different Cloud Models (Buyya provider and user responsibilities for testing are well
et al., 2011) (Jean Bozman, 2010): known and documented.
The primary goal of interoperability is to make it
easier to adopt cloud. Compatibility is next natural Software as a Service (SaaS):
step of how to achieve this interoperability. It is the The cloud provider provides application
ability of the application and the data to work the capabilities over the cloud and the client just
same way irrespective of the service model (IaaS, manages his/her operations and the information
39 Dileep V.K. and Dr. R.V. Sivabalan, 2015
Australian Journal of Basic and Applied Sciences, 9(16) Special 2015, Pages: 36-43

flowing in and out of the system. The client needs that application and data need to reside on the same
only a browser and the administrative things are rests location.
with the provider.  Cloud Adaptability and Customization –
 Carry out regular data extractions and backups Provides ability for the enterprises to adopt cloud and
to a format that is usable without the SaaS provider. also the ability to customize the cloud environments
 Realize whether metadata can be preserved and to fit their needs.
migrated.  Vendor Lock-in – Interoperability standards
 Understand that any custom tools being provide consumers the ability to switch cloud
implemented will have to be redeveloped, or the new providers without a lock-in to a particular provider.
vendor must provide those tools.  Openness – Transparency is one of the key
 Assure the possibility of migration of backups requirements of cloud computing. Provides the
and other copies of logs, access records, and any confidence to the consumers with their business
other pertinent information which may be required continuity planning in the event they want to switch
for legal and compliance reasons. providers.

Private Cloud: Use Case Scenarios (Cisco Datacenter, 2009):

Private cloud is when consumers run private The use case scenarios demonstrate the
cloud within their enterprise or use private cloud performance and economic benefits of cloud
offering from the cloud providers. computing and are based on the needs of the vast
 Make sure interoperability exists between range of consumers. The goal is to highlight the
common hypervisors. capabilities and requirements that need to be
 Ensure standard API’s are used for management standardized in a cloud environment to ensure
functions such as users and their privilege interoperability. Cloud computing must grow as an
management, VM image management, Virtual open environment, minimizing vendor lock-in and
Machine management, Virtual Network increasing customer choice.
management, Service management, Storage
management, Infrastructure management,  Enterprise to Cloud to Enterprise (Kennedy et
Information Management etc. al., 2012):
This use case involves two enterprises using the
Public Cloud: same cloud. The focus here is hosting resources in
Interoperability in public cloud means exposing the cloud so that applications from the enterprises
most common cloud interfaces. They may be vendor can interoperate. A supply chain is the most obvious
specific or open specifications and interfaces. example for this use case.
 Ensure that the cloud providers expose common
and/or open interfaces to access all cloud functions in Requirements:
their service offering. The basic requirements of the Enterprise to
Cloud to Enterprise use case are much the same as
Hybrid Cloud: those for the Enterprise to Cloud use case. Identity,
In this scenario the consumer’s local private an open client, federated identity, location awareness,
infrastructure should have the capability to work with metering and monitoring, management and
external cloud providers. A common scenario is governance, security, industry-specific standards,
―cloud bursting‖. For an enterprise to meet peak common APIs for storage and middleware, data and
demands to better serve its customers, the enterprise application federation, SLAs and lifecycle
could share load with external cloud providers management all apply.
 Ensure that the cloud providers expose common
and/or open interfaces to access all cloud functions in Other requirements for this use case are:
their service offering. • Transactions and concurrency:
 Ability to federate with different cloud providers For applications and data shared by different
to enable higher levels of scalability. enterprises, transactions and concurrency are vital. If
two enterprises are using the same cloud-hosted
Benefits of Interoperability (CSA, 2011): application, VM, middleware or storage, it's
 Infrastructure Abstraction – Application important that any changes made by either enterprise
developers and administrators no longer need to are done reliably.
worry about the hardware. Hypervisors gives the
abstraction from underlying hardware thus removing • Interoperability:
the compatibility concerns. Because more than one enterprise is involved,
 Abstraction between application, data, logic and interoperability between the enterprises is essential.
system interfaces – provides agile application  Hybrid Cloud (Kennedy et. al., 2012):
development process, portability, modularity and This use case involves multiple clouds working
loose coupling. Enterprises no longer need to worry together, including both public and private clouds. A
40 Dileep V.K. and Dr. R.V. Sivabalan, 2015
Australian Journal of Basic and Applied Sciences, 9(16) Special 2015, Pages: 36-43

hybrid cloud can be delivered by a federated cloud any cloud resources of its own. The provider of the
provider that combines its own resources with those hybrid cloud must manage cloud resources based on
of other providers. A broker can also deliver a hybrid the consumer’s terms.
cloud; the difference is that a broker does not have

The user has no knowledge of what the hybrid cloud provider to select resources according to the
provider actually does. consumer’s terms without human intervention.
The requirements for a community cloud are a subset
Requirements: of the requirements for the hybrid cloud. A
• All of the requirements of the previous use cases community cloud has an infrastructure shared among
apply here, particularly Security, Data and enterprises with a common purpose. Here is the
Application Federation and Interoperability. diagram for a community cloud:
• SLAs: A machine readable, standard format for
expressing an SLA. This allows the hybrid cloud

Notice that the communication between the Interoperability Risks (Cloud Standards Customer
community and the community cloud is done across Council, 2014):
an intranet. This could be a VPN, but access is not There are several risks involved with
via the public Internet. Interoperability in Cloud environments.
 Other use case scenarios (CSA, 2011) The process of moving huge databases into the
 When you use cloud provider#1 and in turn cloud and also moving data from one provider to
cloud provider#1 is using other cloud providers like another need right supporting tools. Several of the
#2 and #3. Now the data is spread across all #1, #2 Public Cloud offerings are built on proprietary
and #3 cloud providers and you don't have direct technologies. Cloud providers do not support
relationship with #2 and #3. The issues faced here Heterogeneous deployments. In order to migrate
are: from one vendor to another, the applications may
 Translating the data to a new format or schema. have specific performance requirements, preservation
 Identity management and permission on the data policies, or conformity. The design of application
also need to be translated. and how the distributed components interact at each
 The Cloud Broker data transaction can be an issue when migrating from
A cloud broker understands many cloud vendors one vendor to another as the infrastructure
and can facilitate the migration of data and identity to environment may be different. Quantitative analysis
another cloud vendor. Cloud brokers may specialize of number of users is an important factor for capacity
in data migration, application migrations or identity and migration planning for the new Cloud
migration. environment. Interactive applications are sensitive to
 Cloud Identity and Access Management network and processing latency for usability. Ideally
When using ―Identity Management as a Service‖ the selection of the new Cloud provider should be
providers should provide Strong passwords and done based on a guarantee of an acceptable response
polices that can be managed by the customer. These time range. The specific licensing requirements for
standards should go above internal standards. services should be evaluated upfront and negotiated
with the Cloud Vendor. SaaS integration with
existing systems and processes may be more difficult
41 Dileep V.K. and Dr. R.V. Sivabalan, 2015
Australian Journal of Basic and Applied Sciences, 9(16) Special 2015, Pages: 36-43

than with other migration options because well-built, mature and be supported by the majority of the
well-documented, or usable APIs may not be providers. Following are few of the many efforts
available. Too little service-level can be a significant centered on the development of both open and
issue for certain applications which have strict proprietary API’s that tries to address things such as
quality of service requirements. Risk management of management, security and interoperability for cloud
the Cloud providers from a legal, compliance and (Grace A Lewis, 2012).
operational perspectives is another issue when it  Open Cloud Computing Interface (OCCI). It is a
comes to interoperability. Before a decision to protocol and API originally initiated to create a
migrate is made, the new Cloud vendor should be remote management API for IaaS, allowing for
evaluated and audited for strict compliance and development of interoperable tools for deployment,
privacy requirements. autonomic scaling and monitoring.
 REST-based interfaces for management of cloud
Suggestions (Camey et. al., 2005) (Craig Meyers, resources including computing, storage, and
2006): bandwidth
Precise migration goals and motivations must be  Working group of the Open Grid Forum
identified along with a detailed analysis of  DMTF’s Open Virtualization Format (OVF) is a
requirements and constraints looking at various packaging standard designed to address the
aspects for Quality of service. Cloud migration portability and deployment of virtual appliances.
decisions will impact the application platform  Management interoperability for cloud systems
decisions. The end-user profile for the intended  Developer of the Open Virtualization
applications or solutions is open and inclusive so that Framework (OVF)
all intended end-users will have continuous  Runs the Open Cloud Standards Incubator
accessibility to the applications ported to The Cloud.  IEEE the standards body has created 2 working
Security for the applications or services is reasonable groups P2301 and P2302.
and simplistic enough to be included in a cloud P2301 working group will provide a portability
service model. Because of pay as you go and self- roadmap for cloud vendors, service providers and
service characteristics, application migration to cloud their consumers.
providers can support a department’s autonomous Standards-based options for application
operations. Most cloud alternatives present lock-in interfaces, portability interfaces, management
challenges related to the service offered. Closed interfaces, interoperability interfaces, file formats,
versus open can mean different things for and operation conventions
virtualization, code and data perspectives. P2302 working group will define topology,
The organization's sourcing principles may read protocols, functionality and governance for cloud-to-
out the use of single vendors over best-of-breed cloud interoperability and federated operations
vendors and influence the decision when multiple (hybrid cloud).
migration options meet an application's requirements. Protocols for exchanging data, programmatic
It is important to go through a structured queries, functions, and governance for clouds
methodology and broad analysis for deciding to port sharing data or functions or for federating one
applications to the Cloud. A Complete risk cloud to another
assessment exercise must be conducted for the
 Cloud Computing Interoperability Forum
services being migrated to a Cloud environment. Pre-
(CCIF) was formed to enable a global cloud
migration audit should be conducted and that should
computing ecosystem where organizations can work
include evaluation and ranking of all the applications
seamlessly for wider adoption of cloud computing.
or service components. Another important Pre-
 Common, agreed-on framework/ontology
Portability activity is to plan fall back options.
for cloud platforms to exchange information in a
During the move to the Cloud, a clearly defined fall-
unified manner
back strategy and plan are available to the customer.
 Sponsors of the Unified Cloud Interface
To let alone risks, follow a sound risk management
Project to create an open and standardized cloud
strategy i.e., Assess, Isolate, Mitigate, and Map
interface for the unification of various cloud APIs
before placing applications and IT services in the
cloud. Having a Cloud Exit strategy should be part of  OpenStack – This was originally founded by
the process of deciding to migrate to cloud. Risk can Rackspace and NASA. It has grown into an open
also be mitigated to some extent by using internally source community with global collaboration of
managed multiple sources or using a cloud broker or developers and cloud computing technologists to
federated clouds. provide open source cloud computing platform for
public and private clouds.
Various Standards and Technologies:  Open-source software for running private clouds
At present there are important standards and  Open Cloud Consortium
technologies emerging for interoperability in the Frameworks for interoperating between clouds
cloud. It will take long time for these standards to and operation of the Open Cloud Testbed
42 Dileep V.K. and Dr. R.V. Sivabalan, 2015
Australian Journal of Basic and Applied Sciences, 9(16) Special 2015, Pages: 36-43

 Cloud Standards Customer Council efficiently covered by any existent standard.

 Standards, security, and interoperability issues Pronounced global effort is being placed on creating
related to migration to the cloud effective cloud standards to address the gaps and
 End-user advocacy group sponsored by the alleviate the concerns of cloud computing. Many
Object Management Group (OMG) and creator of the standards exist and more are under development
Open Cloud Manifesto addressing the gaps.
 CloudAudit, also known as Automated Audit,
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