The Open Group's Cloud Work Group Advances Understanding of Cloud-Use Benefits for Enterprises

Updated: February 02, 2010

Lounsbury: One of the things that everybody has seen in cloud is that there has been a lot of take up by small to medium businesses who benefit from the low capital expenditure and scalability of cloud computing, and also a lot by individuals who use software as a service (SaaS). We've all seen Google Docs and things like that. That's fueled a lot of the discussion of cloud computing up to now, and it's a very healthy part of what's going on there.

But, as we get into larger enterprises, there's a whole different set of questions that have to be asked about return on investment (ROI) and how you merge things with the existing IT infrastructure. Is it going to meet the security needs and privacy needs and regulatory needs of my corporation? So, it's an expanded set of questions that might not be asked by a smaller set of companies. That's an area where The Open Group is trying to focus some of its activities.

There is a whole different scale that has to occur when you go into an enterprise, where you have got to think of all the users in the enterprise. What does it take to fund it? What does it take to secure it, protect the corporate assets and things like that, and integrate it, because you want services to be widely available?

Orshaw: A few years ago, there was a tremendous amount of hype, and the dynamics, flexibility, and pricing structures weren't there. It's an exciting time now that you're seeing that from a flexibility, dynamic, and pricing standpoint, we're there. That's both in the private cloud and the public cloud sector -- and we'll probably get into more detail about the offerings around that.

A tremendous amount has happened over the past few years to improve the market adoption and overall usability of both public and private clouds.

In a former life, I was CIO of a large industrial manufacturing company that had 49 separate business units. Cloud today can be an issue in the beginning for CIOs. For example, at that large manufacturing company, in order for a business unit to provision new development test environments or production environments for implementing new applications and new systems, they would have to go through an approval process, which could take a significant amount of time.

Once approved, we would have centralized data centers and outsourced data centers. We would have to go through and see if there was existing capacity. If there wasn't, we would then go ahead and procure that and install it. So, we're talking weeks, and perhaps even a few months, to provision and get a business unit up and running for their various projects.

These autonomous business units that weren't very happy with that internal service to begin with, are now finding it very easy to go out with a credit card or a local purchase order to Amazon, IBM, and others and get these environments provisioned to them in minutes.

This is creating a headache for a lot of CIOs, where there is a proliferation of virtual cloud environments and platforms being used by their business units, and they don't even know about it. They don't have control over it. They don't even know how much they're spending. So, the cloud group can have a significant effect on this, helping improve that environment.

Certainly the leading items like cost savings and time to market are two of the big motivators that we look to for cloud. In a lot of cases, our businesses are driving IT to adopt cloud as opposed to the opposite. It's really a matter of how we blend in the cloud environment with all of our security and regulatory requirement and how we make it fit within the enterprise suite of platform offerings.

The work groups are really focused on trying to deliver some short-term value. In the business use cases, they're really trying to define a clear set of business cases and financial models to make it easier to understand how to evaluate cloud with certain scenarios.

We're seeing a skill-set change on the technical side, in that, if you look at the adoption of cloud, you shift from being able to directly control your environments and make changes from a technical perspective, to working with a contractual service level agreement (SLA) type of model. So it's definitely a change for a lot of the engineers and architects working on the technical side of the cloud.

The Cloud Architecture Group is looking to deliver a reference architecture in 2010. One of the things we've discovered is that there are a lot of similarities between the reference architecture that we believe we need for cloud and what already has been built in the SOA reference architectures. I think we'll see a lot of alignment there. There are probably some other elements that will be added, but there's a lot of synergy between the work that's already going on in SOA and SOI and the work that we are doing in cloud.
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