Big news in our cloud world today -- the formal announcement of the Open Data Center Alliance.
I'm cautiously optimistic that this group -- if successful -- will help all of us accelerate the transition to next-generation IT (e.g. the proverbial "cloud") sooner than later.
Why? It has the potential to provide what all of us vendors need -- a clear and unequivocal target to aim at -- in a way that ordinary standards efforts just can't address.
The first thing that strikes you about the announcement is that it reads like a Who's Who of large-scale IT consumers -- both traditional enterprises and newer service providers. Vendors (other than Intel who is playing a technical advisory role) are politely asked to get involved in the working groups, and not the upper-level governance and outreach functions.
I think it's great that vendors have an opportunity to participate in the discussion, but won't be allowed to unduly influence the direction of the overall alliance. I'm sure that will frustrate more than a few IT vendors, but it makes perfect sense to me.
The headline ("over $50B of IT spend") is certainly attention-grabbing to say the least.
The second thing that I found appealing is the organization of effort into clear workstreams and roadmaps: breaking the overall problem into manageable pieces that are approachable. If you navigate around the website, you'll see the initial formation for specific discussions around not only technology issues (e.g. scalable storage) but more pragmatic topics like software licensing and "onboarding" of cloud models into legacy environments.
Finally, just about anyone (other than vendors!) are free to join, learn and contribute. It appears to be an open and transparent process. You can see the press deck here.
The Opportunity To Bring Clarity, Speed and Pragmatism To The Discussion
There are so many variations of cloud definitions that many of us throw up our hands in frustration. With this group, we have the potential of getting some clear definitions and taxonomies that really matter -- the ones that big users want to use. Clarity is good.
The traditional standards efforts appear to be moving at a glacial pace in regards to the overall cloud opportunity -- this new alliance allows directional solutions to be agreed and communicated to the industry, which can greatly accelerate investments by vendors to address key areas. Speed is good.
Finally, the people who are involved in this effort are practical folks. They want to solve real-world business challenges using the cloud-based technologies, operational models and consumption models. Pragmatism is good.
Not surprisingly, I am very hopeful that this new alliance will gain momentum, and begin to fulfill its broad charter. As a vendor, I believe that having a group that reflects the aggregated priorities of some of the largest users of IT in the world can be nothing but good for all of us.
I'm sure I'll be one of many watching closely and hoping for the best.