Social, mobile and big data may be the trends driving IT in 2012. But all of those markets have the cloud underpinning them to one degree or another. Cloud services are underpinned by cloud infrastructure which is underpinned by data center infrastructure. The cloud is really just turtles all the way down. But what I’m hearing here at the inaugural Open Data Center Alliance Forecast even is that if you want to have the highest stack of the strongest turtles, you’re going to need open standards.
The Open Data Center alliance is an Intel-formed industry peer group designed to promote and publicize best practices in the data center, generally providing a unified voice to tell vendors and service providers exactly what they want in the cloud – from security to transparency to management to hardware design.
But judging from the customer stories we’ve heard thus far, everybody’s using the ODCA as a springboard to scalability, but in a different way.
For example, opening speaker Curt Aubley, who serves both as VP and CTO of Cyber Security & NexGen Innovation for Lockheed Martin and president of the ODCA, explained how he needed something agile, affordable, efficient and secure when his team looked to building a platform that brought all its IT assets under a single portal.
What Aubley’s team came up with was SolaS – short for Solution as a Service – a cloud computing platform built on ODCA standards and granting a unified portal for visibility into all of IT assets and SLAs, no matter where the asset is actually located across the globe. For Lockheed Martin’s primarily public sector cloud customers, it provides a simple frontend for spinning servers up and down.
But the important part there is simply the concept that without the shared practices of the ODCA, Lockheed Martin wouldn’t have had the blueprint to scale as its been.
We’ve already discussed UBS Group CTO Andy Brown’s keynote, but he credited the rise of open standards and those same shared practices as providing the roadmap to his team’s success in providing a secure cloud stack for the company’s financial services customers.
And Mario Müller, representing ODCA Steering Committee member BMW, explains that the group’s work is helping the car manufacturer as it attempts to take its still-nascent private cloud and turn it into a hybrid cloud, with a focus on cloudbursting high-performance computing workloads.
The idea keeps coming up of “industrializing” cloud infrastructure – once there are defined standards and methods for scaling up and out, automation gets a lot easier and you can deploy across clouds at will, depending on policy, there’s more room to worry less about design and more about delivering value. It’s all about efficiency, whether that be energy efficiency or deployment efficiency.
There’s also been some chatter around the Open Compute Project, which pushes for more efficient data center and server rack designs, and whose mission dovetails nicely with the Open Data Center Alliance’s on the physical server side.
Even the open source OpenStack cloud operating system made an appearance, mainly in the form of a lunchtime keynote by Rackspace Hosting CTO John Engates, where he promoted the idea that a level playing field is the only way for anybody to get ahead in the cloud.
On every level, no matter how you slice it, proprietary standards and methodologies are going the way of the Dodo. The more you give to the open movement, the more you’ll be able to take away, too.