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October 31, 2013

Taming the Cloud: The need for standardization and a governing framework

Posted by Vishnu Bhat (View Profile | View All Posts) at 7:57 AM

ODCA Forecast 2013 Trailer [Source: http://www.youtube.com/watch? v=wJ3I6W9f-I0&feature=c4-overview&list=UUvjxNtT770xVH4ES-mKcU2Q]

In September 2011, the National Institute of Standards and Technology - under the U.S. Department of Commerce - put out their 16th definition of Cloud Computing, with the declaration that it would be the last. It met with a divided house. On one side there were those who hailed this definition as the "gold standard"; at the other extreme, experts who pronounced it suitable for humble government objectives, but not for lofty business ambitions. Forget formal definitions, even the simple question of what constitutes Cloud Computing, and what does not, elicits an equally ambiguous answer. Look beyond SaaS, IaaS and PaaS at Storage, Database, Information, Process, Application, Integration, Security, Management and Testing-as-a-Service. Seriously?

One thing's for sure though. The Cloud is indeed living up to its name - it's amorphous, gigantic, awe inspiring, ever changing. And takes a variety of forms. Consequently, practically no two organizations have taken the same approach to the Cloud. It's doubtful if they even see it in the same perspective.

At the beginning of this month, the world's leading IT research and advisory firm announced that nearly one in two large enterprises would have moved to a hybrid Cloud environment by 2017. With the market for public Cloud services expected to top US$ 131 billion this year itself, the lack of standardization is serious cause for concern.

A proactive industry has been working to find a solution since the past few years. Beginning 2010, 300 IT companies came together in a consortium called the Open Data Center Alliance (ODCA), to articulate their Cloud Computing and data center requirements in a unified manner. The vision: to hasten Cloud adoption by gearing the ecosystem to support a high degree of interoperability and adherence to the highest standards. The objective: Prioritize Cloud adoption by speaking in a unified voice; Deliver solution testing and deployment based on a common foundation; and Share collective learning. The path: Drive new levels of IT agility through delivery of unified customer requirements for Cloud Computing enabling secure federation of Cloud services, automation of IT infrastructure, common management and policy for data center resources, and transparency in Cloud service capability and metrics.

The ODCA aims to focus attention on the crying need for a dependable framework to progress the evolution of organizational standards, which would facilitate and streamline enterprises' journey to the Cloud. Lending it direction is a Steering Committee - comprising global IT leaders - which is responsible for charting out the ODCA's roadmap, providing visible leadership in promoting the Alliance, and offering keen insights gleaned through interactions with other IT leaders across Alliance groups. The Committee is supported by the ODCA's multi-tiered membership base of Contributing Members, who decide how and where to apply standardization; Solution Providers, who create offerings conforming to such standards; and Adopter Members who commit to adhere to these policies and standards in their Cloud initiatives. Several members of the Alliance have already marched ahead. And several more are positive. Responding to a membership value survey in the third quarter of 2012, each and every member affirmed their desire to maintain or increase their level of engagement with the ODCA. What binds them to the Alliance is the opportunity to network with and learn from peers and leaders, resolve technical issues and influence the vendor feature set.

We, at Infosys - among those leading the ODCA charge - are taking a wider ranging and forward looking view.

Today, specific concerns like Cloud integration and unification, vendor management, and governance in an environment that is going increasingly hybrid, plagues early adopters. Ensuring data security and usage of best practices on a Big Data scale; and enabling Cloud compliance with a plethora of industry, national and international regulations are top concerns too. We have leveraged the opportunity to partner with the ODCA to usher in a new phase of standardization and governance in Cloud Computing adoption, specifically addressing these concerns.

So, the day is not far when the Cloud's untold promise will finally be fulfilled by impeccable and fully predictable delivery.

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