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Posted by Richard Fichera on November 29, 2010
In October, with great fanfare, the Open Data Center Alliance unfurled its banners. The ODCA is a consortium of approximately 50 large IT consumers, including large manufacturing, hosting and telecomm providers, with the avowed intent of developing standards for interoperable cloud computing. In addition to the roster of users, the announcement highlighted Intel with an ambiguous role as a technology advisor to the group. The ODCA believes that it will achieve some weight in the industry due to its estimated $50 billion per year of cumulative IT purchasing power, and the trade press was full of praises for influential users driving technology as opposed to allowing rapacious vendors such as HP and IBM to drive users down proprietary paths that lead to vendor lock-in.
Now that we’ve had a month or more to allow the purple prose to settle a bit, let’s look at the underlying claims, potential impact of the ODCA and the shifting roles of vendors and consumers of technology. And let’s not forget about the role of Intel.
First, let me state unambiguously that one of the core intentions of the ODCA, the desire to develop common use case models that will in turn drive vendors to develop products that comply with the models based on the economic clout of the ODCA members (and hopefully there will be a correlation between ODCA member requirements and those of a wider set of consumers), is a good idea. Vendors spend a lot of time talking to users and trying to understand their requirements, and having the ODCA as a proxy for the requirements of a lot of very influential customers will be a benefit to all concerned.
But it is a huge jump from acting as an honest broker to encourage things that almost everyone connected with cloud computing eventually wants – interoperability standards, common interfaces, common management models, etc. – and an organization with the de facto power to control purchases and dictate vendor product plans. In this role I think the ODCA will fail.
Consider some of the underlying background and industry realities:
Netting it out, the ODCA has a strong potential to develop use cases that can be of value to the vendor community, which will in turn encourage vendors to build products that deliver the desired solutions to customers. In communicating these requirements, and in providing a ready channel to market for vendors who produce conformant products, the ODCA can provide a service. But I think the odds are against it becoming the kind of powerhouse gating organization with immense market clout that its organizers projected in its opening days.
I’d be interested in hearing from our Forrester I&O clients. Would you join such a consortium? Will the future recommendations of the ODCA influence your buying decisions?
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