Welcome!

Web 2.0 Authors: Scott Bampton, Liz McMillan, Carmen Gonzalez, Pat Romanski, Elizabeth White

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
Connected devices and the Internet of Things are getting significant momentum in 2014. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Jim Hunter, Chief Scientist & Technology Evangelist at Greenwave Systems, will examine three key elements that together will drive mass adoption of the IoT before the end of 2015. The first element is the recent advent of robust open source protocols (like AllJoyn and WebRTC) that facilitate M2M communication. The second is broad availability of flexible, cost-effective storage designed to handle the massive surge in back-end data in a world where timely analytics...
Internet of @ThingsExpo Silicon Valley announced on Thursday its first 12 all-star speakers and sessions for its upcoming event, which will take place November 4-6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in California. @ThingsExpo, the first and largest IoT event in the world, debuted at the Javits Center in New York City in June 10-12, 2014 with over 6,000 delegates attending the conference. Among the first 12 announced world class speakers, IBM will present two highly popular IoT sessions, which will take place November 4-6, 2014 at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, Calif...
The Internet of Things (IoT) promises to evolve the way the world does business; however, understanding how to apply it to your company can be a mystery. Most people struggle with understanding the potential business uses or tend to get caught up in the technology, resulting in solutions that fail to meet even minimum business goals. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Jesse Shiah, CEO / President / Co-Founder of AgilePoint Inc., will show what is needed to leverage the IoT to transform your business. He will discuss opportunities and challenges ahead for the IoT from a market and tec...
SYS-CON Events announced today that TeleStax, the main sponsor of Mobicents, will exhibit at Internet of @ThingsExpo, which will take place on November 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. TeleStax provides Open Source Communications software and services that facilitate the shift from legacy SS7 based IN networks to IP based LTE and IMS networks hosted on private (on-premise), hybrid or public clouds. TeleStax products include Restcomm, JSLEE, SMSC Gateway, USSD Gateway, SS7 Resource Adaptors, SIP Servlets, Rich Multimedia Services, Presence Services/RCS, Diame...
From a software development perspective IoT is about programming "things," about connecting them with each other or integrating them with existing applications. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Yakov Fain, co-founder of Farata Systems and SuranceBay, will show you how small IoT-enabled devices from multiple manufacturers can be integrated into the workflow of an enterprise application. This is a practical demo of building a framework and components in HTML/Java/Mobile technologies to serve as a platform that can integrate new devices as they become available on the market.
SYS-CON Events announced today that O'Reilly Media has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 15th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. O'Reilly Media spreads the knowledge of innovators through its books, online services, magazines, and conferences. Since 1978, O'Reilly Media has been a chronicler and catalyst of cutting-edge development, homing in on the technology trends that really matter and spurring their adoption by amplifying "faint signals" from the alpha geeks who are creating the future. An...
The Transparent Cloud-computing Consortium (abbreviation: T-Cloud Consortium) will conduct research activities into changes in the computing model as a result of collaboration between "device" and "cloud" and the creation of new value and markets through organic data processing High speed and high quality networks, and dramatic improvements in computer processing capabilities, have greatly changed the nature of applications and made the storing and processing of data on the network commonplace.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Aria Systems, the recurring revenue expert, has been named "Bronze Sponsor" of SYS-CON's 15th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 4-6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Aria Systems helps leading businesses connect their customers with the products and services they love. Industry leaders like Pitney Bowes, Experian, AAA NCNU, VMware, HootSuite and many others choose Aria to power their recurring revenue business and deliver exceptional experiences to their customers.
The Internet of Things (IoT) is going to require a new way of thinking and of developing software for speed, security and innovation. This requires IT leaders to balance business as usual while anticipating for the next market and technology trends. Cloud provides the right IT asset portfolio to help today’s IT leaders manage the old and prepare for the new. Today the cloud conversation is evolving from private and public to hybrid. This session will provide use cases and insights to reinforce the value of the network in helping organizations to maximize their company’s cloud experience.
As a disruptive technology, Web Real-Time Communication (WebRTC), which is an emerging standard of web communications, is redefining how brands and consumers communicate in real time. The on-going narrative around WebRTC has largely been around incorporating video, audio and chat functions to apps. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Alex Gouaillard, Founder and CTO of Temasys Communications, will look at a fourth element – data channels – and talk about its potential to move WebRTC beyond browsers and into the Internet of Things.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Gigaom Research has been named "Media Sponsor" of SYS-CON's 15th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 4-6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Ashar Baig, Research Director, Cloud, at Gigaom Research, will also lead a Power Panel on the topic "Choosing the Right Cloud Option." Gigaom Research provides timely, in-depth analysis of emerging technologies for individual and corporate subscribers. Gigaom Research's network of 200+ independent analysts provides new content daily that bridges the gap between break...
We certainly live in interesting technological times. And no more interesting than the current competing IoT standards for connectivity. Various standards bodies, approaches, and ecosystems are vying for mindshare and positioning for a competitive edge. It is clear that when the dust settles, we will have new protocols, evolved protocols, that will change the way we interact with devices and infrastructure. We will also have evolved web protocols, like HTTP/2, that will be changing the very core of our infrastructures. At the same time, we have old approaches made new again like micro-services...
The Industrial Internet revolution is now underway, enabled by connected machines and billions of devices that communicate and collaborate. The massive amounts of Big Data requiring real-time analysis is flooding legacy IT systems and giving way to cloud environments that can handle the unpredictable workloads. Yet many barriers remain until we can fully realize the opportunities and benefits from the convergence of machines and devices with Big Data and the cloud, including interoperability, data security and privacy.
Swiss innovators dizmo Inc. launches its ground-breaking software, which turns any digital surface into an immersive platform. The dizmo platform seamlessly connects digital and physical objects in the home and at the workplace. Dizmo breaks down traditional boundaries between device, operating systems, apps and software, transforming the way users work, play and live. It supports orchestration and collaboration in an unparalleled way enabling any data to instantaneously be accessed on any surface, anywhere and made interactive. Dizmo brings fantasies as seen in Sci-fi movies such as Iro...
Software AG helps organizations transform into Digital Enterprises, so they can differentiate from competitors and better engage customers, partners and employees. Using the Software AG Suite, companies can close the gap between business and IT to create digital systems of differentiation that drive front-line agility. We offer four on-ramps to the Digital Enterprise: alignment through collaborative process analysis; transformation through portfolio management; agility through process automation and integration; and visibility through intelligent business operations and big data.
One of the biggest challenges when developing connected devices is identifying user value and delivering it through successful user experiences. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Mike Kuniavsky, Principal Scientist, Innovation Services at PARC, will describe an IoT-specific approach to user experience design that combines approaches from interaction design, industrial design and service design to create experiences that go beyond simple connected gadgets to create lasting, multi-device experiences grounded in people’s real needs and desires.
The Internet of Things will greatly expand the opportunities for data collection and new business models driven off of that data. In her session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Esmeralda Swartz, CMO of MetraTech, will discuss how for this to be effective you not only need to have infrastructure and operational models capable of utilizing this new phenomenon, but increasingly service providers will need to convince a skeptical public to participate. Get ready to show them the money! Speaker Bio: Esmeralda Swartz, CMO of MetraTech, has spent 16 years as a marketing, product management, and busin...
As the Internet of Things unfolds, mobile and wearable devices are blurring the line between physical and digital, integrating ever more closely with our interests, our routines, our daily lives. Contextual computing and smart, sensor-equipped spaces bring the potential to walk through a world that recognizes us and responds accordingly. We become continuous transmitters and receivers of data. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Andrew Bolwell, Director of Innovation for HP’s Printing and Personal Systems Group, will discuss how key attributes of mobile technology – touch input, senso...
Connected devices are changing the way we go about our everyday life, from wearables to driverless cars, to smart grids and entire industries revolutionizing business opportunities through smart objects, capable of two-way communication. But what happens when objects are given an IP-address, and we rely on that connection, sometimes with our lives? How do we secure those vast data infrastructures and safe-keep the privacy of sensitive information? This session will outline how each and every connected device can uphold a core root of trust via a unique cryptographic signature – a “bir...
Predicted by Gartner to add $1.9 trillion to the global economy by 2020, the Internet of Everything (IoE) is based on the idea that devices, systems and services will connect in simple, transparent ways, enabling seamless interactions among devices across brands and sectors. As this vision unfolds, it is clear that no single company can accomplish the level of interoperability required to support the horizontal aspects of the IoE. The AllSeen Alliance, announced in December 2013, was formed with the goal to advance IoE adoption and innovation in the connected home, healthcare, education, aut...