Setting Standard Terms and Conditions in the Cloud

For all the talk about cloud computing the opportunity for the channel has been fairly limited to a few well-defined services that can be easily invoked by customers. As a result, most cloud computing usage has been in the form of backup and recovery applications, email or a specific software-as-a-service (SaaS) application.

That’s not all that surprising given the fact that despite all the hype, the shift to the cloud is going to be more evolutionary than revolutionary. In fact, the pace at which this shift occurs may have a lot less to do with the maturity of the technologies than the complexity of all the various business models that currently permeate the cloud.

Hoping to drive the adoption of cloud computing services much deeper, the Open Data Center Alliance (ODCA) has begun promoting Master Usage Models for cloud computing. Founded by Intel, the ODCA consortium includes a host of major technology vendors and cloud service providers, along with a healthy dose of large end user IT organizations. The new usage models come in three forms, one of which includes a Version 1.0 commercial framework for defining, delivering and contracting commercial services in the cloud. According to Marvin Wheeler, executive director of the ODCA, this framework will prove to be a significant development in the proliferation of cloud services by making it easier for smaller IT service providers to participate in a cloud ecosystem that is moving towards a standard set of terms and conditions.

Intel is trying to use the collective weight of the ODCA consortium to turn visions of a $24 billion infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) market into reality by 2016. Ultimately, the ODCA has pegged the value of the cloud computing market at somewhere north of $90 billion. Obviously, a lot of buying behavior needs to change between now and 2016 to reach those projections. Specifically, Wheeler says the goal is to get at least 40 percent of core IT operations running in the cloud.

Eventually a significant portion of IT operations will move into the cloud. But by when is anybody’s guess. What is for certain at this point is that Intel and the ODCA are trying to define the terms and conditions under which that shift will occur, an effort that should probably draw more than a passing interest from channel. After all, whoever gets to define the terms and conditions is naturally going to try and stack the cloud computing deck in their favor as much as possible. Unfortunately, as of right now the vast majority of those voices are coming from companies that have upwards of billions of dollars in IT services revenue, which may not be all that representative of the channel as a whole.

Of course, it’s not like the ODCA is trying to set up a smoke-filled room where a small number of organizations will decide the future of all things related to cloud computing. But as is often the case, it doesn’t matter how fresh the air was in a meeting that affects your future if you didn’t know enough to secure an invitation in the first place.

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