I have long been of the opinion that the only way for cloud-like technologies, and ultimately the cloud market to really become viable to the enterprise is for cloud service providers to enable the mobility of workloads between one another. This may sound absurd as I am basically suggesting that customers would be able to move workloads to competitors unhindered. This goes against everything I.T. as for years vendors have always tried to keep things proprietary to prevent customers from easily adopting change, especially to competitors.
The open source movement, although not rapidly adopted by the enterprise, has been the driving force behind most technologies used by cloud service providers today. This has mainly been due to commercial reasons where margins are tight, but they have also had access to a pool of talented developers and engineers to drive value from the open-source code. Canonical’s Ubuntu distribution of Openstack is a classic example and has been rapidly adopted by many cloud service providers. The enterprise is, however, starting to wake up to the fact that in order for I.T. to drive business value it no longer has to be driven by the flashy badge on the tin. Commodity hardware driven by packaged and supported open-source software is rapidly coming onto the radar of key I.T. decision makers within the enterprise.
But what have been the key turning points that have made the enterprise wake up? AWS has certainly had an effect which is understandable as they still control most of the cloud market, but this only reinforces my earlier point about proprietary services. It is not easy to migrate workloads to AWS and once in, it is difficult to move out. Intermediary software is usually required which significantly adds to the cost of migration. Personally I believe the adoption of the Openstack Framework by some of the largest vendors such as HP, IBM and now VMWare (http://www.vmware.com/uk/products/openstack.html) is providing the credibility that is required for the enterprise to take notice. The reason the enterprise is critical is because they will drive the market and, as a standardised platform is adopted by these large cloud service providers, the enterprise workloads will become mobile through hybrid private-public openstack deployments.
But this is just the first major step towards an open marketplace. Enterprise will demand more and I can see service providers becoming interconnected through the Openstack Framework and network virtualisation to allow the easy movement of workloads between providers without disruption to services. In essence I am suggesting that customers can choose where to buy their workload placement, building and breaking down complex multi-tiered applications within a hybrid openstack environment at a click of a button will be the norm. Enterprise will demand value not from the underlying infrastructure but the ability to drive business value from their “Time to Innovate” and drive revenue. It is only a matter of time before the AWS model becomes challenged and their hand is forced to play in the open cloud marketplace!