Are The Big Players Being Hypocritical On Cloud Computing Standards?
The usefulness (and necessity) of developing universal cloud computing standards has been covered in several articles (See: Cloud Computing Standards: How Important Are They? and Cloud Computing Standards – is it time? ). However, now that some concrete steps are being taken towards this goal, the industry is facing non-cooperation from several big players. Come to think of it, that’s not surprising.
Consider what the big names like Amazon and Microsoft may lose out on if universal standards come into place. One, they would lose the power of vendor lock-in by which existing customers would be forced to continue with existing vendors because switching costs would be too high. With universal standards, switching costs would decrease drastically, forcing the big players to keep demanding customers happy. And with multiple players vying for customers’ attention, that may not be too easy. As can be seen in the cell phone industry where portability is easy, there’s a lot of customer churn between vendors.
Two, the larger vendors would also lose negotiating power on contracts. The customers would now be very specific in their requirements to prevent issues similar to WikiLeaks (See: Cloud Computing and WikiLeaks: Was Amazon’s action justified? ) or related to the PATRIOT Act (See: European Firm Refuses To Go On the Microsoft Cloud Due to PATRIOT Act Concerns). Therefore, it’s in their interest to maintain status quo.
Recently, several companies operating in the cloud computing space like IBM, Cisco, EMC, CA, SAP, and Red Hat, came together to draft an open interoperability specification called TOSCA (Topology and Orchestration Specification for Cloud Applications). Capgemini, Citrix, NetApp, PwC, Software AG, Virtunomic, and WSO2, among others, are also contributors. However, Amazon, Microsoft, Salesforce.com, and Rackspace are missing from the list. As you will notice, all of them are early players who have large shares of the cloud computing pie, shares they do not want to risk losing to newer entrants. Thus, even if they may not acknowledge their opposition publicly, even issue statements supporting the development of industry standards, their absence as regards TOSCA does give food for thought.
“A number of initiatives are ongoing to help cloud standards. This is another standard along that progression, but it goes beyond just infrastructure. We’re getting into provisioning of more comprehensive services,” said Chris Ferris, CTO of Cloud Standards at IBM. Speaking about the absence of several prominent names, he stated, “They were invited. We welcome any other companies to come. We feel that we have a fairly good constituency involved.”
OASIS (Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards – http://www.oasis-open.org/), the international standards body that developed Web standard XML and document standard OpenDocument, will be parent body in charge of TOSCA. A technical committee will further develop the specification within the open standards process.
By Sourya Biswas
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