We first failed at cloud because we were closed: IBM

IBM has claimed that the first generation of cloud services failed horribly because everyone in the industry tried to do it their own way.
Written by Michael Lee, Contributor

SINGAPORE--IBM vice-president for SmartCloud Portfolio and Strategy Mohamed Abdula said that the industry made monumental mistakes in trying to get cloud off the ground.

"I'm proud to tell you that at the first generation of cloud, we failed — not just IBM — the whole industry failed."

"We tried to build a cloud environment that is proprietary — all IBM-based, all VMware-based, all Microsoft-based, all whatever your favourite vendor is-based. "

Abdula said that cloud was actually about self-service, resource pooling and importantly, the ability for organisations to deploy apps to multiple environments.

The latter point in particular meant that a proprietary format was never going to work, he said, so the company has since changed its tune and is now building on top of open standards.

"The only way in which you can make a cloud infrastructure work, and be flexible and make it resilient to changes ... is to adopt cloud technologies that is based on standards that allow you the freedom to know that what you invested — your intellectual property on automation, on the application — is protected regardless of the changes in the environment"

Such standards that IBM is betting on include OpenStack and CloudFoundry, as well as other more widely used technologies such as OAuth, Mongo DB, and HTML5.

The progress that open source communities are making however, is not necessarily at the pace that IBM and other vendors would like, according to Abdula.

"Can those standards work by themselves? The answer is no. Open source and open communities take time to mature."

He said that trying to manage groups as large as 3000 members is a difficult task, and the complexities are only compounded by how frequently the sentiment of the group changes.

"One day they all love one thing and other days they love another thing."

Abdula said that IBM sees its role is to build on top of these open standards, even if it means donating its own intellectual property from time to time, and is hoping that more organisations will adopt the same approach.

Michael Lee travelled to IBM InterConnect 2013 in Singapore as a guest of IBM.

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