Welcome!

Web 2.0 Authors: Liz McMillan, Pat Romanski, Elizabeth White, Natalie Lerner, Dana Gardner

Related Topics: Cloud Expo, Java, Linux, Virtualization, Web 2.0, Big Data Journal

Cloud Expo: Article

A Cloud Computing ‘Nutrition Label’

‘Cloud Facts’ label will bring much needed standards to accelerate cloud growth

Like most maturing industries, standards are required to achieve broad adoption and maximum value. For the cloud, in particular cloud Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) offerings like Amazon Web Services and Rackspace Cloud, it's time for a standard method for presenting these services so buyers can reasonably compare and contrast and make better buying decisions.

At the moment, purchasing IaaS is similar to how groceries were bought decades ago - very difficult to compare - both the product contents and the price/value vary from one vendor to another. A recent study conducted by the Open Data Center Alliance (ODCA) - involving Intel, Appnomic Systems and a number of other ODCA enterprise members - illustrates just how difficult the situation is today.

Other industries have gone through this evolutionary phase of defining standards and the cloud computing industry will do the same. New cars started being sold with a Monroney sticker in the windows revealing EPA gas mileage data. Mortgages come with HUD-1 disclosure documentation to ensure all mortgages are comparable from one to the other. Credit card promotions have a standard presentation for disclosing interest rates, annual fees, and other key terms.

The key questions are when it will happen and how this standardization will occur - through self-regulation or government intervention.

The time has come for the cloud computing industry to step up. It IS going to happen. The Federal government has already begun to engage on rating and comparing broadband providers.[1] Cloud providers could very well be next - and that may not be a good thing. The industry has an opportunity to pick up the ball and address the situation proactively.

What's the Cloud Equivalent of Calories, Carbs, and Flavors?
One of the biggest obstacles to creating a "nutrition label" type of standard for cloud computing is that IT IS HARD to compare one cloud to another cloud. There are so many variables, for example, the testing and verification process is still in the very early stages. PriceWaterhouseCoopers has written a paper on the value of third-party validation and how it can help protect a brand in the cloud, yet this process can be an expensive and time-consuming process.

A glance at the overwhelming amount of information involved in providing cloud services can be, well, overwhelming and create its own challenge of comparing offerings. You can see what I mean at the Amazon Web Services and Rackspace pricing pages (available at these hyperlinks to web pages at these companies' websites respectively at the time of publication: AWS, RAX).

One recent attempt at defining the elements to be included in a "Cloud Facts Label" has been the efforts of the Open Data Center Alliance (ODCA) with draft a "usage model" for Standard Units of Measure (SUoM). The organization also chartered a proof of concept (POC) to illustrate how SUoM can be applied in real life (click here to download the report in PDF format).

However, the food industry probably had similar concerns. Like the illustrative food Nutrition Facts label below, you can imagine a Cloud Facts label highlighting the top 20 or so characteristics of an IaaS offering in a standardized way for consumers to compare and contrast.

Why It's Hard to Do and Is Going to Require Industry Collaboration
Among the first things the ODCA learned in the POC was that it is really difficult to be the first to try to establish standard units of measure (SUoM) for the cloud. To quote the report:

"Achieving equivalent environments across different cloud services proved more difficult and time-consuming than the PoC team anticipated. ... We did not find an easy method to incrementally adjust memory, processor, or network options to tune the CIaaS platform resources and achieve desired application performance."

When comparing fairly standard competitors such as Rackspace and Amazon, there were still differences in memory, virtual CPUs and how they were packaged.

IaaS buyers should have a set of agreed-upon standard units of measure upon purchase and ways to verify those metrics after purchase, so they can assess whether they are, in fact, continuing to receive what they've paid for. A standardize measurement and disclosure would take care of the purchase decisions and companies like Appnomic provide systems to help address ongoing performance measurement and management.

How Do We Make the Cloud Facts Label Happen?
It is becoming increasingly clear that the industry as a whole needs to take action. In this regard, it may be instructive to examine how other industries dealt with the issue of setting standards.

In the auto industry, safety and disclosure issues came to a head in 1958 when the Automobile Information Disclosure Act of 1958 was passed by the US congress. Ultimately, disclosure labels were required on all automobiles sold in the United States.

Since that time, the top twelve auto manufacturers came together to form the Auto Alliance, because they realized that the alternative was more government intervention, and that "constantly shifting government rules create manufacturing chaos, ultimately raising costs to consumers."

In 2006, to fight security breaches in the credit card industry, the top credit card issuing companies formed the Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council and established the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS). While still a work in process given all the recent breaches, at least that industry has taken action to get in front of the issues and to establish security and prevention standards to help prevent fraud.

Most of us are familiar with websites that make it easy to compare personal computers by listing in table format the CPU size, monitor screen size, RAM, storage, etc., included in a computer.

The cloud industry could refer to any of these models to choose how to proceed. By not choosing, it's certainly reasonable that government intervention may be the outcome. While the risk is not the health of our citizens as with the food industry, there are various obvious concerns with the current situation should it continue or get exacerbated.

What's in It for You, for All of Us . . .
The service providers argue that they should continue selling their customers a "black box" version of cloud infrastructure and not worry about what's inside. They say that is the value of cloud computing in the first place. Users should not worry about what's inside and leave that to the experts.

The problem with this view is that it only really addresses a "sunny day scenario" when cloud operations work. What happens when things go wrong? How does the IaaS user hold the service provider accountable? How does the service provider protect their own interests? What happens when that first service provider starts over provisioning, under delivering, crashes customers' applications, goes out of business and leaves customers hanging?

Aside from these dire possible outcomes, it's just good business to know what you are buying and to be able to compare. This characteristic of US industries is part of what makes our global competitiveness and intense drive for excellence result in a strong economy.

Needless to say, as a long-term strategy for credibility, deeper market penetration, and industry sustainability, the current situation is not a viable option.

The end benefits of developing SUoMs for cloud infrastructure are many:

  • The increased transparency will empower customers to better understand and trust what they are purchasing.
  • The research phase of the sales cycle will be shortened as customers will have easier-to-understand benchmarks to help guide them.
  • Application performance on IaaS platforms will perform better and will get to better performance faster as illustrated by the ODCA POC results.
  • The SUoMs will provide a clear upgrade path, leading to more well-defined tiers of service and more sales, faster than is possible now.

By implementing a Cloud Facts label, the industry will grow the overall industry pie and while pie may not be the most nutritious food, it sure is a great dessert!

Reference

  1. The FCC (Federal Communications Commission) has already implemented a broadband speed test and report as well as a national broadband map that inventories what speeds are available in what geographies.

More Stories By Ray Solnik

Ray Solnik is President of Appnomic Systems. As president of Appnomic Systems, he has P & L responsibility with a focus on business growth in North America. He brings to Appnomic twenty years of experience in cloud computing, managed network services, and data communications.

Prior to Appnomic, Ray was president and COO of OpSource, an early SaaS/IaaS provider, which was acquired and is now the core Cloud offering of Dimension Data - a $4 billion systems integrator. Ray has helped multiple next generation companies develop and drive strategies resulting in successful fundraising from top venture capital investors, including Gengo, PowerCloud Systems, and CrowdFlower.

Earlier in his career, Ray was chief development officer of New Edge Networks (acquired by EarthLink), and president of AT&T’s consumer Internet services business, AT&T WorldNet. He has a bachelor's degree in economics from the University of Michigan and an MBA from Stanford Graduate School of Business. He lives in Silicon Valley.

Comments (1)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


@ThingsExpo Stories
Scott Jenson leads a project called The Physical Web within the Chrome team at Google. Project members are working to take the scalability and openness of the web and use it to talk to the exponentially exploding range of smart devices. Nearly every company today working on the IoT comes up with the same basic solution: use my server and you'll be fine. But if we really believe there will be trillions of these devices, that just can't scale. We need a system that is open a scalable and by using the URL as a basic building block, we open this up and get the same resilience that the web enjoys.
The Internet of Things is tied together with a thin strand that is known as time. Coincidentally, at the core of nearly all data analytics is a timestamp. When working with time series data there are a few core principles that everyone should consider, especially across datasets where time is the common boundary. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Jim Scott, Director of Enterprise Strategy & Architecture at MapR Technologies, discussed single-value, geo-spatial, and log time series data. By focusing on enterprise applications and the data center, he will use OpenTSDB as an example t...
P2P RTC will impact the landscape of communications, shifting from traditional telephony style communications models to OTT (Over-The-Top) cloud assisted & PaaS (Platform as a Service) communication services. The P2P shift will impact many areas of our lives, from mobile communication, human interactive web services, RTC and telephony infrastructure, user federation, security and privacy implications, business costs, and scalability. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Robin Raymond, Chief Architect at Hookflash, will walk through the shifting landscape of traditional telephone and voice services ...
The Domain Name Service (DNS) is one of the most important components in networking infrastructure, enabling users and services to access applications by translating URLs (names) into IP addresses (numbers). Because every icon and URL and all embedded content on a website requires a DNS lookup loading complex sites necessitates hundreds of DNS queries. In addition, as more internet-enabled ‘Things' get connected, people will rely on DNS to name and find their fridges, toasters and toilets. According to a recent IDG Research Services Survey this rate of traffic will only grow. What's driving t...
Enthusiasm for the Internet of Things has reached an all-time high. In 2013 alone, venture capitalists spent more than $1 billion dollars investing in the IoT space. With "smart" appliances and devices, IoT covers wearable smart devices, cloud services to hardware companies. Nest, a Google company, detects temperatures inside homes and automatically adjusts it by tracking its user's habit. These technologies are quickly developing and with it come challenges such as bridging infrastructure gaps, abiding by privacy concerns and making the concept a reality. These challenges can't be addressed w...
Explosive growth in connected devices. Enormous amounts of data for collection and analysis. Critical use of data for split-second decision making and actionable information. All three are factors in making the Internet of Things a reality. Yet, any one factor would have an IT organization pondering its infrastructure strategy. How should your organization enhance its IT framework to enable an Internet of Things implementation? In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, James Kirkland, Chief Architect for the Internet of Things and Intelligent Systems at Red Hat, described how to revolutioniz...
Bit6 today issued a challenge to the technology community implementing Web Real Time Communication (WebRTC). To leap beyond WebRTC’s significant limitations and fully leverage its underlying value to accelerate innovation, application developers need to consider the entire communications ecosystem.
The definition of IoT is not new, in fact it’s been around for over a decade. What has changed is the public's awareness that the technology we use on a daily basis has caught up on the vision of an always on, always connected world. If you look into the details of what comprises the IoT, you’ll see that it includes everything from cloud computing, Big Data analytics, “Things,” Web communication, applications, network, storage, etc. It is essentially including everything connected online from hardware to software, or as we like to say, it’s an Internet of many different things. The difference ...
Cloud Expo 2014 TV commercials will feature @ThingsExpo, which was launched in June, 2014 at New York City's Javits Center as the largest 'Internet of Things' event in the world.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Windstream, a leading provider of advanced network and cloud communications, has been named “Silver Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9–11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. Windstream (Nasdaq: WIN), a FORTUNE 500 and S&P 500 company, is a leading provider of advanced network communications, including cloud computing and managed services, to businesses nationwide. The company also offers broadband, phone and digital TV services to consumers primarily in rural areas.
"There is a natural synchronization between the business models, the IoT is there to support ,” explained Brendan O'Brien, Co-founder and Chief Architect of Aria Systems, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at the 15th International Cloud Expo®, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
The major cloud platforms defy a simple, side-by-side analysis. Each of the major IaaS public-cloud platforms offers their own unique strengths and functionality. Options for on-site private cloud are diverse as well, and must be designed and deployed while taking existing legacy architecture and infrastructure into account. Then the reality is that most enterprises are embarking on a hybrid cloud strategy and programs. In this Power Panel at 15th Cloud Expo (http://www.CloudComputingExpo.com), moderated by Ashar Baig, Research Director, Cloud, at Gigaom Research, Nate Gordon, Director of T...

ARMONK, N.Y., Nov. 20, 2014 /PRNewswire/ --  IBM (NYSE: IBM) today announced that it is bringing a greater level of control, security and flexibility to cloud-based application development and delivery with a single-tenant version of Bluemix, IBM's platform-as-a-service. The new platform enables developers to build ap...

An entirely new security model is needed for the Internet of Things, or is it? Can we save some old and tested controls for this new and different environment? In his session at @ThingsExpo, New York's at the Javits Center, Davi Ottenheimer, EMC Senior Director of Trust, reviewed hands-on lessons with IoT devices and reveal a new risk balance you might not expect. Davi Ottenheimer, EMC Senior Director of Trust, has more than nineteen years' experience managing global security operations and assessments, including a decade of leading incident response and digital forensics. He is co-author of t...
Technology is enabling a new approach to collecting and using data. This approach, commonly referred to as the "Internet of Things" (IoT), enables businesses to use real-time data from all sorts of things including machines, devices and sensors to make better decisions, improve customer service, and lower the risk in the creation of new revenue opportunities. In his General Session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Dave Wagstaff, Vice President and Chief Architect at BSQUARE Corporation, discuss the real benefits to focus on, how to understand the requirements of a successful solution, the flow of ...
The security devil is always in the details of the attack: the ones you've endured, the ones you prepare yourself to fend off, and the ones that, you fear, will catch you completely unaware and defenseless. The Internet of Things (IoT) is nothing if not an endless proliferation of details. It's the vision of a world in which continuous Internet connectivity and addressability is embedded into a growing range of human artifacts, into the natural world, and even into our smartphones, appliances, and physical persons. In the IoT vision, every new "thing" - sensor, actuator, data source, data con...
"BSQUARE is in the business of selling software solutions for smart connected devices. It's obvious that IoT has moved from being a technology to being a fundamental part of business, and in the last 18 months people have said let's figure out how to do it and let's put some focus on it, " explained Dave Wagstaff, VP & Chief Architect, at BSQUARE Corporation, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Nov 4-6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Focused on this fast-growing market’s needs, Vitesse Semiconductor Corporation (Nasdaq: VTSS), a leading provider of IC solutions to advance "Ethernet Everywhere" in Carrier, Enterprise and Internet of Things (IoT) networks, introduced its IStaX™ software (VSC6815SDK), a robust protocol stack to simplify deployment and management of Industrial-IoT network applications such as Industrial Ethernet switching, surveillance, video distribution, LCD signage, intelligent sensors, and metering equipment. Leveraging technologies proven in the Carrier and Enterprise markets, IStaX is designed to work ac...
C-Labs LLC, a leading provider of remote and mobile access for the Internet of Things (IoT), announced the appointment of John Traynor to the position of chief operating officer. Previously a strategic advisor to the firm, Mr. Traynor will now oversee sales, marketing, finance, and operations. Mr. Traynor is based out of the C-Labs office in Redmond, Washington. He reports to Chris Muench, Chief Executive Officer. Mr. Traynor brings valuable business leadership and technology industry expertise to C-Labs. With over 30 years' experience in the high-tech sector, John Traynor has held numerous...
The 3rd International @ThingsExpo, co-located with the 16th International Cloud Expo - to be held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY - announces that it is now accepting Keynote Proposals. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the most profound change in personal and enterprise IT since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago. All major researchers estimate there will be tens of billions devices - computers, smartphones, tablets, and sensors - connected to the Internet by 2020. This number will continue to grow at a rapid pace for the next several decades.