The Art of Cloud standard(s)

Panelist’s log: Stardate 63712.8 :

I was part of couple of standard panels at the CloudConnect 2010. The first panel,Where We are today, State of the Standards was pretty much uneventful. But the second one “Where Are standards going”, was a little interesting … I remembered Dickens ” It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to heaven, we were all going direct the other way …” … The summary in bullet points:

  • The panel was chaired by Bob Marcus.
  • Started with William’s  comments on past failures … His discussion reminded me of Cy the Cynic’s adage “the function of wisdom is to keep you out of situations where you’ll need it.” ! Do we have that wisdom now, after we have blew through the WS-* a.k.a. death star standards ? But I am not totally on par with William which i had blogged earlier. But I also agree that REST is better than SOAP
  • I did a quick overview of my view – also here
  • Around this point, the the real discussions started ! In no chronological order, some of the salient points:
  • There are too many cloud standards ! True, I agree – this is my fear as well !
  • There needs to be an umbrella organization for Cloud standards. (I have a question on this – see below)
  • The cloud standards are in an echo chamber ! May be true, but life is hard – for example I had to spend a large part of Glenrothes on an upcoming document “Architecture for Managing Clouds”
  • Need the orthogonal extensibility of REST. But we need to make sure the domain complexity is captured and of course minimize the accidental complexity
  • Mark Ryland (Microsoft) elaborated about the motivation for participation in a standard – ranging from fear of non adoption of proprietary solutions (WiFi, VoIP) to joining forces against the defacto leader to …
  • Amazon was mentioned a few times as the defacto leader. The consensus was that AWS is an innovator but there is a market much beyond the AWS market
  • In another panel earlier in the day, I heard that Azure is actually not competing against AMZ at all; first the Azure customers will wait for Microsoft to mature their offering and Microsoft will position Azure as a means of retaining customers rather than gaining customers.
  • Interoperability was mentioned many toes as a standards opportunity, but it was not defined well enough (I have a question on this, see below)
  • Adoption is the measure of a standard not the technical excellence. I agree with this, but this is a circular logic. May be a better characterization would be “technical excellence is necessary but not sufficient”
  • Effective standards is all about “product management” not “evangelism”
  • [Update 2 (Thanks Shlomo for pointing this out)] In TCP/IP, the designers realized that innovation occurs outside the standard, at the edges of the network. Why not approach cloud standards the same way ?
  • User participation in standards making will be very low. [Luckily we have had some good participation from cloud service providers]
  • Fellow panelist Archie Reed/HP did disagree with William. Archie also pointed out that there is an enterprise market which is different from the start-up market that AWS is well suited for
  • There were good explanations and discussions from Winston Bumpus and Jim Warner. Bob Marcus did his best to herd the cats. I think Shlomo didn’t get a fair chance to express his views – his voice was drowned in the sea of loud voices ;o(
  • In the panel preceding this one, there were a few good observations that I remember.
  • Mark Ryland couldn’t figure out why the SNIA CDMI was developed ! Unfortunately for me, I was representing SNIA in the earlier panel (and of course, I am also the co-chair of the DMTF Cloud Incubator)
  • Peter Coffee mentioned that voluminous standards or standards that require 48 pages for an exception rationale, are the norm and this needs to be changed
  • In short, from my perspective, an effective panel; even though I felt that the audience didn’t do full justice to the folks who put in enormous efforts to develop the standards (life in the echo chamber is not that easy!).
  • Am fine with a vocal crowd – standards are never for the timid … “faint heart ne’er won fair standard” ;o)
  • As the co-chair, I walked away with a few MustDo items. Plan to follow up in the next few days …
  • [Update 1] Information Week blog by Charles Babcock “Let Stormy Session be your guide” on this session – good observations

My questions to the readers:

  1. What does cloud interoperability mean ?
    • Will it be enough if we can specify the various aspects ?
      • viz: connectivity between the  tiers of a composite app,
      • capture the declarative policies, constraints and rules of the infrastructure, the security and so forth and
      • then handover the bits (images et al or links thereof) between clouds ?
    • In which case, what we need is a good specification for the cloud provider-consumer interface
  2. What would a Cloud standard umbrella organization look like ?
    • Is it a messaging and a marketing function or
    • As Peter mentioned, is it a branding & trademarking function ? (Similar to the likes of the Wi-Fi Alliance, which is a separate organization…)
    • [Update 1] Mark Carlson pointed out the as one model




[2] Bridge, Frank Stewart at SJMN


7 thoughts on “The Art of Cloud standard(s)

  1. Krishna: One obvious note that I made at the panel discussion. This is a cloud conference and the panel did not have adequate representation from the target audience. Where are the googles, amazons and salesforces? I bet any sane company would like to address standards, and not view it as a slowing down their pace. The audience would have liked the lead to be taken by the bigger players in this space or atleast have some representation on the podium. “We called them and they didnt come”, tells me something is wrong with the way the panel was selected. Sorry, it was a very disappointing panel discussion.

    • Thanks for the comments and sorry, that the panel was a disappointment. You can take a horse to the creek, but cannot make it drink ;o) The amazons, googles and salesforces of the world will come. Let us see if we can do a better job next time.

      • Thats the spirit. Your wisdom and their experience are both needed for this to work. Keep doing the excellent work.

  2. Dear Krishna: Any thought given to inter-op standards at the SaaS providers ? Specifically, SaaS providers like SFDC, NetSuite are exposing WS apis. This are proprietary and will cause process/application integration issues. In this space adoption of WS-I or AS4 standards may help.

  3. Pingback: Quora

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