By E.G.Nadhan, Distinguished Technologist, HP Enterprise Services
“Stop it! “You’ll be waiting there till 2015, while everyone else is building fundamental skills and ramping up their cloud knowledge,” “So jump in the game already!” says Forrester’s Lauren E Nelson to those who are waiting for Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) to become more standardized. Nelson refers to the play, Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett, in which Vladimir and Estragon sit around waiting for somebody who never shows up.
Based on my experience co-chairing the development of the first Technical Standard by The Open Group on Service Oriented Cloud Computing Infrastructure (SOCCI), I can see why she is projecting IaaS standards years out – because standards go through a series of evolution phases:
- Discovery. Enterprises investigate, architect, design and occasionally stumble upon techniques for providing infrastructure components as a service. Various options surface based upon the requirements of the internal (private) and external (public) environments. Continuous discovery of techniques and their variations result in the rapid proliferation of available options.
- Experience. Emergence of techniques does not automatically entail their adoption. All techniques are subject to continuous evaluation based upon the experience of the service consumers, providers, integrators etc. Techniques are continuously improved and rationalized to a synthesized, refined set.
- Consensus. Driving the standards definition requires the active participation of key players in that domain -- players who tend to have their own business and technical reasons to drive their techniques. Conflicts arise between these players. Imagine all automobiles having a standardized look and feel!! However, the counter force to the "We are different" mind-set is the need for interoperability which triggers cautious dialog that drives an agreement of sorts. Reaching this consensus is the most challenging of all these phases – IaaS being no exception.
- Simplification. Standards tend to be accommodative of several variations – to expedite consensus. This results in a massive, monolithic definition which is conducive for consistent global adoption. Users tend to use some portions of the standard all the time. Thus, some standards don't see the light of day since they are too comprehensive and complex to adopt. Simplification is key. Simplification is best addressed by identifying the common denominator while allowing for expansions as needed.
- Governance. Standards continue to evolve with changing business needs. Governance around these changes is sometimes more important than the standard itself. The level of adoption drives the manner in which such governance is exercised.
IaaS standards today are somewhere between Discovery and Experience phases. There are multiple standards bodies like The Open Group who are driving the definition of such standards. Unlike Vladimir and Estragon, HP has jumped in the game by taking the following steps:
- Played a key role in defining the first Technical Standard for the Cloud published by The Open Group on SOCCI.
- Implementation of IaaS solutions based on HP Converged Infrastructure to speed development for the nation’s largest healthcare company.
How about you? What strategies have you adopted? I will be interested to know.