Interoperability in the Cloud

Arthur Cole

Arthur Cole spoke with Marvin Wheeler, chairman of the Open Data Center Alliance Steering Committee.



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Cloud interoperability is emerging as one of the key requirements for a successful transition from static data center infrastructure. But how do you foster such a broad working environment when the same competitive tensions exist between vendors and providers? One way is to unite the user base, sending a message to those who stand to profit that the technology is a non-starter unless there is greater cooperation. That's the primary goal of the Open Data Center Alliance, which consists largely of enterprise CIOs and other top executives with a stake in cloud technology. Wheeler, CSO at Terremark by day, highlights some of the group's objectives.


Cole: The Open Data Center Alliance is the latest in a long list of organizations calling for broad interoperability among enterprise systems and environments. How does the ODCA's agenda differ from past efforts?
Wheeler: The biggest difference is that this is CIO-driven, so the stakeholders are the actual buyers. There is strong commitment from the members to use the deliverables like white papers, usage models and roadmap items in their strategic planning and buying decisions.

Cole: Interoperability is often only achievable after a great deal of integration. Is there a way to avoid this process, or at least simplify it?

Wheeler: This is the key goal of the ODCA-to develop use cases and roadmap items for the manufacturers to develop to and manufacture to that would greatly reduce the laborious integration efforts of today. Think of the cell industry today. I can be a Verizon user with a Motorola phone, but I can call a friend who is an AT&T user using a Samsung phone. The call works, the video will transmit and receive, and there is no real integration efforts required of the two end users

Cole: Does the development of cloud computing drive a greater need for interoperability? How concerned are the alliance's members with cloud lock-in?

Wheeler: Cloud computing amplifies the need for interoperability for sure. The alliance members want to ensure that interoperability exists, which can be looked at as avoiding vendor lock-in, but in reality I think the ODCA takes the half-full approach that suggests interoperability enhancements will produce the same net outcome.

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