Open standards for cloud computing advance
Here's the question: Will customers be able to move easily between clouds? The answer depends on how quickly vendors and customers reach agreements on standards. There was a lot of activity in 2009 on this problem. In April, the Distributed Management Task force (DMTF) announced its "Open Cloud Standards Incubator." Among the problems the DMTF is working on is the lack of standards that enable interoperability between private clouds within the enterprise and hosted or public cloud providers. In December, the Enterprise Cloud Buyers Council was created to work on security, reliability and interoperability. Microsoft, Cisco and IBM are part of that group.
"For cloud computing to really take off, it has to be open," said Emil Sayegh, general manager of cloud for Rackspace US Inc. Cloud providers will have to allow movement between clouds and interoperability, as well as enabling disaster recovery between clouds, said Sayegh. "Holding people hostage is not something we believe in," he said.
Politics will drive decisions
Cloud decisions will, increasingly, be made with an eye on politics and not by IT managers. The decision in October by the Los Angeles City Council to approve a $7.25 million, five-year deal with Google Apps, replacing the city's internal Novell GroupWise system -- and at least setting up an alternative to Microsoft Office -- is a big deal. It engaged the mayor and city council in a very public debate about cloud services; that's the real takeaway from the decision. Cloud-based services have demystified compute services and increasingly, elected officials (and business executives) will ask IT managers about the cloud.
Look for the Los Angeles decision to echo loudly in board rooms and at government meetings in 2010.
The cloud will decentralize IT decision-making
One of the first significant actions by President Barack Obama's federal CIO, Vivek Kundra, was to create a federal app store that allows U.S. government employees to order services and tools without necessarily having to go through an IT approval process for each and every action. The app store is still a work in progress. The ability to order cloud storage, and Web hosting, is still "coming soon," but the goal is in place. The federal effort, however, is one of the more visible signals of a broader trend. After a drive toward centralization of IT resources and data center consolidation, business units may get a little independence back to add and subtract IT services via cloud providers.
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