Variety & Darwinism In Solutions Is Innovation, In Standards It’s A War?
I find it quite interesting that in the last few months or so, as Cloud has emerged as a full-fledged business opportunity, we’ve seen the rise of many new companies, strategies and technologies. For the most part, hype aside, people praise this as innovation and describe it as a natural evolutionary process.
Strangely enough, with the emergence of new opportunity comes the ever-present push to standards. Many see standards introduced too early as an innovation squasher; it inhibits free market evolution, crams down the smaller players, and lets the big fish take over — especially when the standards are backed by said big fish. The open versus proprietary debate is downright religious.
Cloud Computing is no different.
We’ve seen many “standards” float to the surface recently — some backed by vendors, others by groups of concerned citizenry. Many Cloud providers have published their API’s in an attempt to standardize interfacing to their offerings. Some are open, some are proprietary. Some are even open-sourced. Some are simply de facto based upon the deployment of a set of technology, solutions and an ecosystem built around supporting it. Professional standards organizations are also now getting involved.
In J. Nicholas Hoover’s blog post titled “Groups Seek Cloud Computing Standards,” Gartner’s David Cearly said :
“Community participation, deliberate action, and planning must be a vital part of any successful standards process…Otherwise, he said, cloud standards efforts could fail miserably.”
“Standards is one of those things that could absolutely strangle and kill everything we want to do in cloud computing if we do it wrong,” he said. “We need to make sure that as were approaching standards, we’re approaching standards more as they were approached in the broader internet, just in time.”
I suppose that depends upon how you measure success…
Tom Nolle wrote an interesting piece titled: “Multiple Standards Cloud Spoil Cloud Computing” in which he lists 7 standards bodies “competing” for Cloud, wondering out loud why if they all have similar interests, do they exist separately. After he talks about the difference between those focused on Public and Private Clouds, he bemoans the bifurcation and then plugs the one he finds best 😉
So now we have live public cloud services with incomplete standards and evolving private cloud standards with no implementations.
The best hope for a unification is the Cloud Computing Interoperability Forum. Its Unified Cloud Architecture tackles standards by making public cloud computing interoperable. Their map of cloud computing shows the leading public cloud providers and a proposed Unified Cloud Interface that the body defines, with a joking reference to Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, as “One API to Rule them All.”
So make that 8 players…
This week we’ve seen the release of the VMware-sponsored and DMTF-submitted vCloud. We also saw RedHat introduce their Deltacloud API. We have the Open Cloud Computing Interface (OCCI) standards work which getting underway within the Open Grid Forum (OGF.) There’s a veritable plethora of groups, standards and efforts at play.
Some of it is likely duplicative.
Some of it is likely vendor-fed.
The reality is that unlike others, I find it refreshing.
I think it’s great that we have multiple efforts.
It would, for sure, be nice if we could all agree and have one focused set of work, but that’s simply not reality. It will be confusing for all concerned in the short term.
The Open vs. mostly-open debates will continue, but this NORMAL. In the end, we end up with a survival of the marketed-fittest. The standards that win are the standards that are most optimally muscled, marketed and adopted.
Simon Wardley wrote a piece called “The Cloud Computing War” which to me read like an indictment of the process (I admit my review may be colored by what I perceive as FUD regarding VMware’s vCloud,) but I can’t help but to shrug it off and instead decide to focus on where and whom I will decide to pitch my tent.
I’ve already done so with the Cloud Security Alliance (not a standards body) and I’m looking at using vCloud to find a home for my A6 concept.
A Cloud standards war? War is such an ugly term. It’s just the normal activity associated with disruptive innovation and the markets sorting themselves out. The standards arena is simply where the dirty laundry gets exposed. Get used to it, there’s enough mud/FUD flinging that you can expect several loads 😉