Open Cloud – Where it Makes Most Sense

Open Cloud – Where it Makes Most Sense

Openness and standardization have been an eternity topic for computer industry. Since the early 80’s when the PC revolution led by Intel processors, open hardware standards have revolutionized the computer industry with standardized hardware components and building blocks. HW stadnards, USB, PCI-E, SATA, SAS, etc. are common to servers and PCs alike. At the same time many software standard emerged DLL, CORBA, Web Services, etc. to ensure software interoperability. Open standards have become the gene pool of today’s computing infrastructure.

How will open standards and open source solutions play in the cloud computing era? As we look at the most popular cloud service providers today, Google, Microsoft, Amazon, etc. None of them have open standards, at most they have open interfaces for others to interact with, but the cloud solution stack is mostly proprietary. If past history is a mirror of the future, we can foresee that as cloud services become more popular, open standards will play more and more important roles. A natural question to ask is how much open standards can play in the context of cloud computing? That is a question interesting to many of us. Let me try to share my opinion on this.

As indicated in the chart below, the level of open standards decrease as we go higher up to the cloud services stack. At the very bottom, the hardware building blocks, we need strong interoperability and inter-changeable (disposable?) components. They should be general independent of cloud middleware and application services. At the infrastructure as a service (IaaS) and platform services (Platform as a service – PaaS) layers, cloud operators are more likely to use open standard and generic building blocks to build their infrastructure services, even though they have to be optimized and work well with the cloud environment (cloud middleware or cloud OS) of their choice. While in the upper layers of cloud solution stack, where and application services (SaaS) are defined, there are a greater needs for cloud operators to offer differentiated services. That is where they will put their “secrete source” for competitiveness. It will be much more difficult to drive open standard building blocks/ components, other than focusing on interoperable interfaces, such as web services standards.

Based on the analysis above, it is safe to assume that open standard and open source opportunities are most promising at HW building blocks, IaaS, and PaaS layers. That should be where the industry is more likely to build consensus. While for the upper layers, especially SaaS, we should focus on interface standards, not as much on standard building blocks and open source solutions.

Intel has been a leader for HW standard building block for the last 30 years and has changed the industry. It is natural to assume that Intel should focus IaaS and PaaS building blocksas well as how these open standards could be applied at open datacenters (ODC) as“adjacent” growth opportunities to embrace the booming cloud computing. Some conventional wisdom says that Intel is not relevant to cloud, as cloud computing be definition abstracts HW. I would say just the opposite – Intel will continue to play a critical role to define and promote open standards and open source solutions for IaaS and PaaS, so that the cloud can actually mushroom. There is a strong correlation between how fast cloud computing can proliferate and how well Intel plays its role to lead the open cloud solutions at IaaS and PaaS layers. What do you think?


Definition of taxonomy:

      ODC– (Open Data Center) Currently stands for a set of interoperable technologies optimized for IaaS, PaaS and SaaS datacenters.  At the most basic levels, these optimizations will also apply to traditional enterprise as well in areas such as power management but higher level management will be tailored for IaaS and SaaS high density datacenters.

      SaaS – Software as a Service:  is a model of software deployment whereby a provider licenses an application to customers for use as a service on demand.  Examples include Google apps,, etc.

      PaaS – Platform as a Service:  It facilitates deployment of applications without the cost and complexity of buying and managing the underlying hardware and software layers, providing all of the facilities required to support the complete life cycle of building and delivering web applications and services entirely available from the Internet—with no software downloads or installation for developers, IT managers or end-users

      IaaS – Infrastructure as a Service:  Rather than purchasing servers, software, data center space or network equipment, clients instead buy those resources as a fully outsourced service. The service is typically billed on a utility computing basis and amount of resources consumed (and therefore the cost) will typically reflect the level of activity.