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Why Cloudware and why now?

In September of last year, as I was preparing (mentally and emotionally) to get Replicate started on its current path, I considered issues of portability and interoperability in the virtualized datacenter. I posted a few comments about OVF but one in particular drew the attention of Bert Armijo of 3tera.

At that time, Bert indicated that he thought it "... too early for a standard,...", with a (perfectly arguable) claim that standards are often "... a trade-off to gain interoperability in exchange for stifling innovation." He went on to say that "(w)e haven't adequately explored the possibilities in utility computing." He then provided a critique of OVF. (Whether I agree with that critique or not is immaterial to this post, and the subject for another time.)

At the end of June, 3tera announced their Cloudware vision for a standards-based interoperable utility infrastructure. Since the arrival of Cloudware, there have been a number of venues at which "cloud computing" and interoperability has been on the minds of the cognoscenti... Structure08 and Velocity being the most heavily covered. In the past few weeks, there have also been claims, and counter-claims of support... and to be fair, the disputed claims of support were made by others, not by 3tera.

So... what's changed, Bert? Why is "now the time" to create the standard for interoperable cloud computing? What's happened in 9 - 10 months that has so changed the field, that these efforts don't also stifle innovation?

Simon Wardley has also reiterated his position most recently at OpenTech regarding substitutability between utility providers (which includes portability and interoperability) ... an outcome which he maintains will require not just open standards but open source standards. When compared to the Cloudware initiative, I can more easily support this "pure form" of standard creation. The commercial success of pure, open source standard approach for utility computing, however, requires a reasonably well-established reference implementation or some acknowledged leader as the de facto standard. (Again, the topic for yet another post.)

That said, Simon and I could not be more in agreement when he states that "... standards will emerge through competition and adoption rather than committee." I'd probably add to that statement that such standards don't (often) emerge as a result of the smaller, fragmented commercial interests banding together to form a "composite" competitor to a market leader.

I have to agree with John Willis
when he states that "...what we today call the 'cloud' will really just
evolve into a complex IT infrastructure ... which will link services
from a myriad of inter connected inter-operable applications spanning
internal legacy applications, internal/external virtual resources,
private clouds and public clouds." (Full quote provided below.)

Head In The Clouds | 3Tera

Well I’m happy to say that I think the time has come when we have enough companies in the space working on creative products and services that a standard can progress productively. We’ve begun to share our vision for what that standard can achieve, it’s called Cloudware, and covers not only AppLogic but a whole new way to approach infrastructure.
john m willis ESM Enterprise System Management Blog
It is my belief that what we today call the “cloud” will really just evolve into a complex IT infrastructure of the future, and in the end, will just be referred to as infrastructure. There is no doubt the traditional IT landscape of the last 20 years is going through a substantial transformation on the same scale as what happened in the mid 1980’s as mainframe resources shifted to distributed computing and client server architectures.

This new complex IT infrastructure of the future will link services from a myriad of inter connected inter-operable applications spanning internal legacy applications, internal/external virtual resources, private clouds, and public clouds. For example, I can envision a scenario where a business service runs internal behind-the-firewall VMware instances for parts of an application and possibly inter-operates with resources on Amazon’s EC2, Flexiscale, Google’s App Engine, or a player to be named later. These same business services might also use resources from private internal clouds running 3Tera’s Applogic, IBM’s Blue Cloud, or Cassatt’s Active Power Management. Like it or not, Microsoft will have resources involved in this new IT management infrastructure of the future. Any interoperability discussion will need to include them as well. ...

Reader Comments (3)

I like the concept of an open source based model for standards. Typically when a vendor promotes a standard it's just an attempt at a land grab.
Jul 6, 2008 at 3:32AM | Unregistered Commenterbruce fryer
Last year what most people meant when they talked about a standard for "cloud computing" was a portable virtual machine format. While that's important, it's not cloud computing. What's changed in the past 10 months is that there are now a number of companies offering workable services that have a vision beyond merely hosting virtual machines.

As for John's comments about cloud computing becoming just part of IT Infrastructure - well that's exactly what good infrastructure is supposed to do. However, the capabilities and costs of IT will have changed dramatically before that happens.
Jul 6, 2008 at 8:47AM | Unregistered Commenterbarmijo
I put in my two cents today:

Cloudware: Standard to Watch, or Another Self-Interested Enterprise Play?[http://blog.jamesurquhart.com/2008/07/cloudware-standard-to-watch-or-another.html]

I hope 3TERA will take our advice and look for an open source approach, rather than promoting their own product under the guise of an "open standard".
Jul 7, 2008 at 4:23PM | Unregistered CommenterJames Urquhart

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