Disruptive Change for All IT Professionals – The Open Data Center Alliance

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I had planned to write a kind of roundup as to where the market is now as a traditional beginning of year review, and had lined up a number of thoughts and interesting references to other blogs. However I was doing some research on the topic of the 'next generation data center' relating to the details of how, and why, it differs in terms of technology leading to the operational side. This led quite naturally to exactly what is driving demand for these changes and the resulting requirement definitions, and in doing this work it clicked with something I had just read in a very interesting post from Ray Wang.

I have mentioned Ray Wang before as one of the people in the industry whose analysis I follow with great interest and sure enough Ray had hit the mark again in his software insider blog which is now at a new URL. This time his topic was; '2011 Cloud Computing Predictions for Vendors and Solutions Providers' and picked up on an article he had previously written for Forbes under the title of '2011 Cloud Computing Predictions for CIOs and Business Technology leaders'. It is well worth reading the complete blog for the excellently constructed analysis, but to make my point I will just quote the summary paragraph leading into his ten key points.

The bottom line for vendors (sell side) – Cloud ushers a new era of computing that will displace the existing legacy vendor hegemony. Many vendors caught off guard by the shift in both technology and user sentiment must quickly makes strategic course corrections or face extinction.

Normally the IT vendors are accused of hyping and driving new products in their own interests rather than those of their customers, but in this case it seems that the shift is disruptive enough not to be too welcome. My contrast to this came from the Open Data Centre Alliance where the entire steering committee of ten members is made up of so called 'end user' enterprises from banking, hotels, engineering, and petroleum sectors. In the seventy or so members there is just a few non 'end users' and they are all IT services rather than technology product vendors; (Capgemini is currently joining hence my in depth study of the site).

So is it the shift from purchasing products to consuming as a service that is the issue? Well it certainly doesn't help if you are a vendor, but then recurrent revenue for annual licensing is unlikely to suddenly stop as enterprise applications remain crucial. The real issue is a shift in focus from internal enterprise applications to edge of business and external services vying for attention and taking an increasing share of the available enterprise funding. As I worked through the details of the next generation data center it became increasingly clear just who was driving the change, and it wasn't necessarily the IT staff, but it certainly was the business users who had already started down the path by using Google, Amazon or Salesforce.com.

I concluded that the radical change that all of this brings may not be welcomed by the current operators of data centers who will rightfully argue the need to continue to support their current enterprise applications, and point to operating improvements that virtualization is bringing. But the next generation data center is not about operational improvement and is not driven from resources up as in the past, instead it is being driven by a shift in business use of technology creating the need for a wholly different set of resources, supplied, charged for, and managed in a new way.

That's a disruptive change for all us IT professionals neatly summed up by studying who is driving the Open Data Center Alliance and by looking at the five topics that make up their roadmap you can see that they are focused on agreeing and standardizing to make it easy for them to use clouds, the way they want.

Andy Mulholland, CTO, Capgemini

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