February 24, 2011

The Clouds Are Opening Up


There is an interesting transformation going on around the cloud and the network architectures to support cloud services – be they private, public or Hybrid.

Much of the early vendor discussion and approaches were very much black box approaches, the assumption being that in order to seamlessly move between the silos of virtualization, server, network and storage, the implementation had to be Black Box based.

By Black Box, I mean proprietary single or closed multi vendor architectures.   This vendor lock in model was getting away from what made Ethernet so compelling to Data Center IT departments in the first place – open standards, interoperability, high volume to drive costs down and to encourage rapid innovation, and of course, expanded customer choice.

Clearly, we are an industry going through turbulent times as new technologies, virtualization and cloud services in particular are changing the way IT and the vendor ecosystem do business. Driving much of this proprietary behavior was the immaturity of the technology, use cases and the supporting ecosystem.

Fortunately, as the technology and business models mature, we are changing back to what made Ethernet based Data Center networks great in the first place – Openness.

As the technologies and tools around virtualization and cloud mature, and business cases become clear: our industry is quickly reverting back to openness and interoperability.

We are seeing this take shape in many forms. One recent example of an open cloud initiative is OpenStack. OpenStack is an open source community of service providers and vendors that are coming together to define in an open and transparent way, the full stack requirements to deliver private, public and hybrid clouds.  Founded by Rackspace and NASA, Openstack has made tremendous progress in a short period of time and already is 50 members strong and releasing code!

Other examples pointing to this openness trend exist as well.  Take for example the recently formed organization, Open Data Center Alliance.  The ODCA charter is clear – “The Open Data Center Alliance is an independent consortium comprised of leading global IT managers who have come together to resolve key IT challenges and fulfill cloud infrastructure needs into the future by creating an open, vendor-agnostic Usage Model Roadmap.”

We are seeing the same open approach out of VMware with their vCloud initiative as well. We have already begun integration with our solution, called XNV, with vCenter to enable tight integration between the network and the virtualization environment.

So, from what I have seen over the past few months, it looks like the clouds are opening up – which is good news for all involved…except for those with plans of making the cloud a proprietary and closed marketplace.

I would love to hear your thoughts on the direction of the cloud and what the vendor and IT community can do to ensure that as the Cloud matures – it remains open.


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Extreme Marketing Team

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