Type “cloud” at Google these days and you get 580,000,000 hits. Okay, the second hit is a Wikipedia entry about a “visible mass of water droplets” in the sky; but the first hit is the Wikipedia entry for “cloud computing”!!! Apparently IT trumps natural weather phenomena any way. (By the way, the hit count at this writing for “cloud computing” is a measly 70,000,000). With all that attention, you’d think that all cloud issues are dealt with, that everyone who wants to use “the cloud” is already doing so, that Nick Carr’s “The Big Switch” has sold more copies than the latest Tom Clancy thriller.
In fact, that’s not the case. Plenty of organizations that could get value from an organized, focused, enterprise-wide approach to cloud computing aren’t doing so. Most surveys cite a strong concern about a perceived lack of security, performance or standards; more often, when I talk to CIO’s, I hear that they simply don’t know where to start. Should I shut down my data centers and just move it all to the cloud? Is there a halfway point so I can try one project out? Just how do I deal with the changes in performance, and what standards will help me avoid vendor lock-in and give me choice? The voice of the customer just hasn’t been loud enough to date in the development of the cloud computing industry.
Just a couple of weeks ago, using the same end-user focused model for information-sharing organizations we used when we developed the SOA Consortium and the Business Ecology Initiative, OMG launched the Cloud Standards Customer Council (CSCC) with more than 45 participants and founding sponsors CA Technologies, IBM, Kaavo, Rackspace and Software AG. At a recent conference (IBM’s IMPACT 2011 event in Las Vegas, yet another opportunity to spend a week in the desert) I was asked many times, “aren’t there enough cloud organizations already?” The answer is clearly “no” since the number of participants has tripled since the organization was founded. More importantly, in the mold of the SOA Consortium, CSCC is not a standards organization; rather, it’s composed almost entirely of end-user organizations (rather than vendors), and is focused not on standards but on how end-users can get value out of cloud computing through shared development of best practices; exploration and publication of cloud-computing case studies; and yes, the shared development of requirements for cloud standards (that can be sent off to cloud-computing standards organizations like OMG, DMTF, TMForum and the like for development of detailed technical standards). After all, migration to the cloud is less of a technical problem than a business-process and management issue.
Taking advantage of IBM’s highlighting of cloud computing at their desert event, an informal first meeting of the CSCC took place at IBM’s IMPACT conference (see below for some photos from the launch at IMPACT) and was lead by Mel Greer of Lockheed Martin, who has agreed to serve as interim Steering Committee chair until formal elections are held at our first face-to-face meeting on June 22 in Salt Lake City, UT. IBM’s Robert LeBlanc and Marie Wieck and others were kind enough to draw the attention of the thousands of attendees to the CSCC, which generated tremendous interest.
At the kick-off meeting, after introductions around the room, Mel Greer invited Angel Diaz, VP, IBM Software Standards and I to kick off the meeting with the presentation: Cloud Standards Customer Council: Making Cloud Standards Customer Driven. If you are interested in viewing it, the presentation is available on the Council’s wiki http://wiki.cloud-council.org. I won’t go into all the meeting details, but the members have already agreed to an aggressive timeline and are getting excited about our first official virtual meeting on May 18. (There’s still plenty of time to get involved and participate in this first, official meeting. Membership is free to qualified end users. For an application, go to http://www.cloud-council.org/application.)
The most important item to come out of the meeting is a call for participation. The first order of business is the creation of a Roadmap and we need volunteers to help draft it. This Roadmap will directly impact the working groups that are formed, the deliverables that they will produce and the overall direction of the group’s efforts. We are also soliciting use cases from all CSCC members to help guide the authors.
Once Mel opened the discussion to the floor, it became clear that technology transfer—getting the requirements the group develops into standards organizations—is going to be a key to success. Let me again stress one, very important point: CSCC is not; repeat not, a standards organization. CSCC members are consumers of cloud services. They are pooling their expertise to spread the work of developing best practices & requirements for successful cloud computing, whether that be best practices or cloud standards requirements documents, across the entire group. That’s where technology transfer comes into play. Many CSCC members are also members of actual standards organizations, OMG being one of them. These members will champion the requirements the CSCC develops into actual standards processes at these standards organizations. OMG has a lot of experience working with other standards organizations through liaison relationships just like this so we are highly confident in the process.
Now that CSCC is officially launched and ramping up, we are working on next steps. Discussion groups are being created, web content is being posted, we’re gathering use cases and getting ready for our first meetings. We hope to have a draft roadmap in place before our first face-to-face meeting in June, where we’ll also be holding elections for the steering committee. We’ll start forming working groups and accepting volunteers for various tasks at the May 18 virtual meeting. Things are moving quickly so if you are interested in participating, now is a great time to sign up.
As I mentioned above, the next meeting of the CSCC will be a virtual meeting on May 18, 2011. We’ll be posting details on the CSCC website shortly. If you are interested in participating (free for end-user organizations) send an email to email@example.com and be sure to visit our website, www.cloud-council.org.
Slides from the presentations.