The Open Data Center Alliance (ODCA) was formed in 2010. It had several objectives: identify customer requirements for cloud adoption; define usage models; influence industry innovation: and collaborate with industry standards organisations.
One year later it has over 300 members, representing over $100 billion in annual IT spend; eight published usage models; the first industry paper on best practice for cloud application development and resiliency; and collaborations with leading standard bodies including the Cloud Security Alliance, the Open Compute Project, the Green Grid and the Distributed Management Task Force.
By any measure the ODCA has been a great success. It’s underlying aim, and ongoing endeavour, to develop a unified vision for long-term requirements for the cloud, is something that it’s well on the way to achieving.
Certainly, this is evidenced by the growing number of influential members spanning multiple continents and vertical industries. And it’s also clear by the publication of eight cloud computing usage models. These models cover four areas: security, automation, common management and policy and transparency.
Security covers two areas: security provider assurance and security monitoring. These provide users with granular specifications required from every solution provider to enable security, and mechanisms that allow real-time monitoring of security level delivery to organisational and regulatory policy.
By meeting the requirements set out in these usage models, cloud users would be assured of robust security mechanisms. Similarly, the automation usage models offer users important safeguards and benefits. For example to ensure increased efficiency of virtual machines, the usage model specifies exact bandwidth requirements for each machine and the total amount of network I/O based on policies.
Regulatory compliance is also another important issue facing potential cloud users. The ODCA regulatory framework usage model sets out the full scope of government mandates from all around the world and provides a reference to international and domestic regulations. For users, it ensures that they can adopt a comprehensive and holistic approach to compliance and thereby avert significant investment further down the line.
The transparency models, carbon footprint and service catalogue are designed to create a consistent approach towards carbon monitoring to enable improved differentiation of ‘green’ service providers. The service catalogue addresses the fundamental issue of how to measure the cloud services offered by a provider and what attributes exist for the service. Another usage model under the transparency umbrella, Standard Unit of Measurement for IaaS, is designed to help with SLA determination.
All in all, these OCDA usage models provide very useful templates to assess, gauge and work out whether you’re getting the service you need, what you need to know to get the service you need and how to receive the best possible cloud service.
These usage models also help the IT supply industry, such as OEMS and ISVs, understand the key business challenges facing IT departments in moving towards the cloud. As a result, it enables them to develop more targeted solutions.
A lot has been achieved by the ODCA in a relatively short time which augurs well for the future of cloud computing, as does the growing and expanding number of ODCA partnerships. The Green Grid for example, aims to improve the resource efficiency of data centres and business computing systems while the Open Compute Project aims to build efficient computing infrastructures at the lowest possible cost. Both are influential organisations and these liaisons both reflect the standing of the ODCA within the industry while also signalling how the industry is evolving towards ever more cost effective and energy efficient forms of computing.