I spent Tuesday at the Cloud Interop event organized by Steve O’Grady and David Berlind. Scientists say that even a negative result is useful in advancing knowledge; I’d go further and say that a wait-and-see attitude in the heat of a hype cycle is often optimal. By those criteria, this was successful. My attendee count peaked at 51.
Interop or Standards? · Here’s the problem: There is so much hype and arm-waving right now around the word “cloud” that it’s expanded to cover most aspects of IT. Thus if you want cloud interoperability, you essentially have to solve all the IT interop problems as a first step.
The conversation was labeled “interop”, but quickly made the subtle but important semantic shift to being about “standards”. With that in mind, it was appropriate that Bob Sutor, IBM’s chief standards honcho, opened up, saying sensible things about standards in general, and about the cloud, and urging people not to charge into creating another standards organization.
It quickly became apparent, to me at least, that there were no specific problems around which formal interop or standards efforts were about to coalesce. However, there are a few parties who disagree with Bob and are working on setting up a new consortium or institute or whatever to try to own Cloud Standardization.
Take-Aways · I note that the vast majority of people who are actually using Cloud APIs in the real world are using Amazon Web Services. Amazon was notably unrepresented at the interop event; this is drearily familiar behavior by a popular incumbent in the context of interop efforts. Steve O’Grady reported Verner Vogels as saying that Amazon hasn’t figured out yet whether the AWS interfaces are intellectual property that they should protect, or not. That’s a very interesting question.
Also unrepresented were Microsoft, EMC, HP, and probably a few others.
I was fairly surprised when Anant Jhingran, who’s IBM’s CTO of something important-sounding, asserted that it’s too early for interoperability; what customers really want is “integration”. In my own conversations with potential customers I’ve encountered a visceral fear of lock-in. But Anant’s position is consistent, for example see Cloud Standards.
Drat, I didn’t capture the source of this (paraphrased quote); speak up if it was you:
Businesses are open to spending money on technology to grow. But there are very tough limits on what they’re willing to invest in existing IT deployments and partnerships. Salesforce.com succeeded by routing around IT.
Here’s another random picture to give the flavor. People were packed in pretty tightly, and willing to shut up and listen.
Sun’s Take · We’ve been unspecific recently on the Cloud, but I will say this: We want to supply systems and storage and software to people who are building cloud offerings. As such, we’d like to see a market with the minimal friction and lock-in, and a large number of successful and highly competitive players. So we’re prepared to support efforts in that direction.
Thanks · To Steven and David and the other people who helped put this on. We’ll be doing this again, I’m sure.