Tech Thursday: Cloud Alliance

Today, Intel announced that it's leading a group called the Open Data Center Alliance in a project called Cloud 2015 (not to be confused with the Cloud Gate). What is Cloud 2015?

Image via IncomingIT.

(I'm glad you asked! Wait - you didn't ask? Well, shame on you...ask now. Thanks for asking!)

It's a project to "simplify virtual computing" through the development of open standards (Yes!) around three key areas:

1) Security: easier to share data w/out lowering security standards
2) Automation: more efficiently share data
3) Device-Aware: access data through different methods based on device used (e.g. PC vs. Smartphone)

This may not seem like much, but from a consumer point-of-view, I think this is awesome - especially considering the wade range of companies included in the group (Marriott, BMW, Shell, UBS, etc.). This range (70+ companies, and counting) suggests that, while Intel may control the servers w/in the Cloud, they will not hold absolute power. This should help ease concerns from both the regulators and consumer-watch groups.

With those concerns out of the way, open standards provide 2 major benefits for consumers:

1) Interoperability: all devices should work w/in the new standards, so you're no longer funneled into any specific buckets based on device and/or Cloud provider.
2) Price: this may seem counter-intuitive, but I think Cloud computing falls into the economies of scale model. one network = lower costs to deliver data for Cloud providers = lower costs to access data for consumers.

Cloud 2015 excites me. I think the "wild west" nature of the Cloud will soon be tamed a bit (I'm a fan of chaos w/in a well-defined order), and the end result should be a platform that benefits both the companies (they know the standard, and can develop to the standard - think Windows), and the consumer.


  1. I love inside, ongoing jokes. As I was clicking on 'awesome' I said aloud, "How awesome? So awesome."

    That being said, there are some definite pro's and cons to this idea. Well not exactly cons, just some good things and some things that may not be so good.

    Good: Intel is a non-voting member.
    Not so good: Intel is providing 90% of the Cloud server technology and probably has a greater financial benefit.

    Good: A large number and wide range of companies.
    Not so good: Google is not involved. (Can you make a Freudian slip when typing? I accidentally typed "Not so god: Google...and thought that maybe that worked a little better) Google is pretty much the number one company in everything tech and cloud and if they don't get Google on board I think there will end up being Google's cloud and Intel's cloud, which is exactly what the Open Data Center Alliance is trying to avoid.

    Good: AT&T and Verizon are both involved.
    Not so good: Apple and Research in Motion (dealer of the Crackberry) are not involved. Not quite as important as Google, but you definitely want to get the two biggest smartphone makers involved...and maybe they can convince Apple to include Flash...or convince everyone else to get on the thing after flash..HTML4? HTML5? something like that.

    Good: They're setting an ambitious goal of 2015.
    Not so good: I doubt they'll reach that goal since it's arbitrarily chosen and there's no reason not to push it back.

  2. Some quick responses/thoughts:

    - I could easily see the competing clouds you mention, but I think you're over-selling Google's prevalence in the cloud.

    - I think you're also over-selling Apple/RIM, but it is important to have top-smartphone companies.

    - They did lay out a roadmap, but it is unfortunately short-sighted with a timeline. I'd love to see a high-level plan for how they hope to achieve their goals by 2015.

  3. While I don't think Google is even close in terms of the servers supporting a cloud, I think they are already a few steps ahead in terms of the programming and coding. Scott, do you know of any cloud supported word processor or spreadsheet other Google Docs? Picasa is already a pretty strong photosharing site.

    Although, maybe these types of applications have been around so long they just aren't that hard for someone to come in and create a new proprietary Open Data Center Alliance version.

  4. Can someone - likely Scotty or TMQ 2.0 Aaron - please give me Cloud 101? I'd love to engage in the discussion with you guys because it seems really interesting, but I have ABSOLUTELY no idea where to start. What does this mean if I'm sitting on the corner with a phone in my hand and a laptop in the other? Is that even the right first question to ask?

    And, TMQ 2.0, I'm loving how you can break down any discussion into an A/B format. "On the one hand, XXXXX. Right below that, in opposition, YYYY". I'm eagerly anticipating the launch of your "Today: Bold Prediction and Not-So-Bold Prediction" blog...doooooo it.

  5. The simplest way to think of cloud technology is how we use Google Docs. When we link to a spreadsheet in Google Docs, it takes us to an online document that we can all edit and we can access from any internet enabled device. This spreadsheet is not stored on any of our computers, but rather on some random server in Whothehellknows, Kansas or Itdoesntmatter, Cambodia.

    If your computer was to suffer a fatal virus, you would not be as hurt as you would have been ten years ago because now many of the pictures and data that you find precious are probably stored at some other location such as Facebook or Picasa. You can also access all the same photos from a home computer or a work computer without having to transfer or save the data at either location.

    Scott, please feel free to expand with an actual definition instead of a few examples. Cloud technology would be software and data that is accessed and stored over the internet rather than on any individual's computer.

  6. I think you nailed it perfectly with your last sentence; it is a method of storing data in one central location that can be accessed via any device in any location. The concept didn't make sense 10 years ago in a world w/out smartphones. However, those companies (Google, Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, Intel) that began investing in the Cloud 5 years ago are now in the driver's seat.

  7. Wow, I get it now, and that set some kind of land-speed record. Only 2 posts!

    So, I'm curious - how does one make this kind of thing at all secure enough? It's one thing to share our picks (or lack thereof) for NFL games, but what happens when sensitive personal information gets put into the cloud and, um, someone finds out how to take it out of the cloud and use it?

    I'm not trying to be a smart-ass, I'm genuinely curious. It's rare that I'm so fascinated by something I know so little about.

  8. MP - that same question can be asked for all the financial data you submit when doing any sort of online banking transaction (e.g. BillPay). You almost have to hope-and-pray a bit that the provider of such a service has all the necessary security measures in place.

    In addition, a unified standard should allow for increased privacy since security companies only have to develop to one set of code (of, course you could argue that the exact same concept helps hackers, and well, you're right).

  9. In a timely report, Microsoft announced that the Cloud is green - very green.