When the cloud casts its shadow…Part 2
Bringing order out of chaos
Compliance and security are very important considerations in a BYOC environment. If the various cloud stakeholders can get together to create and agree global standards to cover these issues, it would solve a lot of management headaches and boost the adoption of BYOC and its many benefits. But this is really just the tip of the iceberg, because there are so many more aspects of cloud service provision that must be brought in line to reduce the risk of service fragmentation.
Two employees, or departments, may be using different cloud applications for the same purpose. The choice of application might have been made with full attention to the need for security, compliance and how well it meets the business need at what cost. But if those two users now need to co-operate on a project, will the services be compatible? During company mergers, and all the problems in smoothly integrating two different business cultures, if both businesses depend critically on outsourcing cloud services that are mutually incompatible, what happens?
The fact is that we are seeing explosive growth in cloud service offerings, many of them so well designed and operated as to become essential business tools for an ever-growing number of organisations of every size and type. But there are few common standards that could make it easy to compare service offerings, let alone know whether they can be mixed and matched or will be compatible with each other in the future.
A technological shift on the scale of cloud computing creates a “gold rush” situation where the prizes go to those who get in first and stake their claim in the new territory. The results can be impressive but the long-term prospects can be messy. Consider what happened at the birth of the PC market in the 1980s, with a huge choice of operating systems and hardware that fast became obsolete. Even when the dust settled there were still problems among organisations using MS-DOS, MacOS and Unix.
Compare that with the relatively smooth transition from legacy WAN technologies to today’s Carrier Ethernet – the difference being that the vendors put aside their differences and co-operated to form the MEF and then got the service providers and other WAN stakeholders involved in beating out a set of standards that gave CE universal appeal.
Now the number and diversity of stakeholders in the cloud environment is much greater, and the complexities of developing standards in such a fast moving market are formidable. But the same process is happening with OpenCloud Connect (OCC) and its mission to prevent the cloud from fragmenting into incompatible offerings and vendor lock-in by rival providers.
The OCC has already defined the standard cloud reference architecture. One of the first benefits is the way it provided a common language and standard terminology, and this is already beginning to happen with the cloud. Even within a single organisation there will be cloud stakeholders that speak different business languages: they will need such standardisation to be able to talk together.
Using this reference architecture, OCC cloud standards are being developed by the stakeholders themselves on an ongoing basis that can keep pace with the fast evolving cloud market. There is much to do, and we need to make sure that everyone has a chance to contribute, but the important thing is that it is happening now.
Bring Your Own Cloud provides a great business environment, and it is up to us all to make sure that it develops into a level playing field – and one as richly satisfying as Bring Your Own Coffee.
The author of this blog is James Walker, president of OpenCloud Connect