Open Data Center Alliance: User Group for Cloud Services

Can a user group drive cloud vendors to settle on a single set of standards, regardless of their buying power?
Written by David Chernicoff, Contributor

With an A-list of companies with big tech budgets at its back, Intel, as the technical advisor for the Steering Committee for the ODCA, joined in announcing the formation of a group of IT buyers dedicated to putting the future of the cloud into the hands of the people who will be buying the technology. The stated goal of the ODCA is to define datacenter and cloud standards in an "open, industry-standard and multi-vendor fashion."  They plan to do this by developing their Usage Model Roadmap which will be based on their stated goal

The obvious question, however, is can the customer drive the way that the cloud evolves?  The ODCA lacks any of the major cloud providers as a member, and while Intel is a serious technology vendor, they make the back-end hardware that the cloud effectively makes invisible to the user.  Despite the fact that the current ODCA members represent 50 billion dollars in IT spending, their spending is primarily focused internally, not on the public cloud (As my previous commentary on the topic indicate, I tend to agree with Amazon CTO Werner Vogels that the term "private cloud" is just a marketing phrase).

And the value of open standards for your "private" cloud is not in the same league as fully interoperable public cloud offerings, which is the number one comment I get when I write about cloud standards.  Readers immediately express a preference for the ability to avoid any sort of lock-in when selecting public cloud services, which is not something that is the case with cloud services currently being promoted by major cloud players. And open standards behind the corporate firewall are rarely the driving force behind technology purchases.

I picked the term user group in the headline for a reason; successful enterprise products tend to draw a loyal, if not fanatical user base, and these user groups often become major factors in determining the direction that the growth of the technology or product takes.  What the ODCA appears to be trying to do is get the user involved before the product hits the market, by propagating a standard that they hope other customers will use to judge cloud services.

There are other cloud standards being pushed, by different organizations and, if you think about it, these may well be all or nothing efforts.  There will be little difference between a few groups defining similar (but not identical) sets of standards that each get some subset of the cloud vendors to adhere to, and market forces segmenting the cloud market, say into Google, Amazon, and Microsoft camps, and having third-party developers pick a market segment group to support.

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