Welcome!

Web 2.0 Authors: Greg Ness, Sematext Blog , Aria Blog, Trevor Parsons, AppDynamics Blog

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
The Internet of Things is not new. Historically, smart businesses have used its basic concept of leveraging data to drive better decision making and have capitalized on those insights to realize additional revenue opportunities. So, what has changed to make the Internet of Things one of the hottest topics in tech? In his session at @ThingsExpo, Chris Gray, Director, Embedded and Internet of Things, discussed the underlying factors that are driving the economics of intelligent systems. Discover how hardware commoditization, the ubiquitous nature of connectivity, and the emergence of Big Data a...
"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.
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...
SYS-CON Events announced today that IDenticard will exhibit at SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. IDenticard™ is the security division of Brady Corp (NYSE: BRC), a $1.5 billion manufacturer of identification products. We have small-company values with the strength and stability of a major corporation. IDenticard offers local sales, support and service to our customers across the United States and Canada. Our partner network encompasses some 300 of the world's leading systems integrators and security s...
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.

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...

The BPM world is going through some evolution or changes where traditional business process management solutions really have nowhere to go in terms of development of the road map. In this demo at 15th Cloud Expo, Kyle Hansen, Director of Professional Services at AgilePoint, shows AgilePoint’s unique approach to dealing with this market circumstance by developing a rapid application composition or development framework.
“In the past year we've seen a lot of stabilization of WebRTC. You can now use it in production with a far greater degree of certainty. A lot of the real developments in the past year have been in things like the data channel, which will enable a whole new type of application," explained Peter Dunkley, Technical Director at Acision, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
DevOps Summit 2015 New York, 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 widespread success of cloud computing is driving the DevOps revolution in enterprise IT. Now as never before, development teams must communicate and collaborate in a dynamic, 24/7/365 environment. There is no time to wait for long development cycles that produce software that is obsolete at launch. DevOps may be disruptive, but it is essential.
"People are a lot more knowledgeable about APIs now. There are two types of people who work with APIs - IT people who want to use APIs for something internal and the product managers who want to do something outside APIs for people to connect to them," explained Roberto Medrano, Executive Vice President at SOA Software, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at Cloud Expo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Nigeria has the largest economy in Africa, at more than US$500 billion, and ranks 23rd in the world. A recent re-evaluation of Nigeria's true economic size doubled the previous estimate, and brought it well ahead of South Africa, which is a member (unlike Nigeria) of the G20 club for political as well as economic reasons. Nigeria's economy can be said to be quite diverse from one point of view, but heavily dependent on oil and gas at the same time. Oil and natural gas account for about 15% of Nigera's overall economy, but traditionally represent more than 90% of the country's exports and as...
The Internet of Things is a misnomer. That implies that everything is on the Internet, and that simply should not be - especially for things that are blurring the line between medical devices that stimulate like a pacemaker and quantified self-sensors like a pedometer or pulse tracker. The mesh of things that we manage must be segmented into zones of trust for sensing data, transmitting data, receiving command and control administrative changes, and peer-to-peer mesh messaging. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Ryan Bagnulo, Solution Architect / Software Engineer at SOA Software, focused on desi...
"At our booth we are showing how to provide trust in the Internet of Things. Trust is where everything starts to become secure and trustworthy. Now with the scaling of the Internet of Things it becomes an interesting question – I've heard numbers from 200 billion devices next year up to a trillion in the next 10 to 15 years," explained Johannes Lintzen, Vice President of Sales at Utimaco, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
"For over 25 years we have been working with a lot of enterprise customers and we have seen how companies create applications. And now that we have moved to cloud computing, mobile, social and the Internet of Things, we see that the market needs a new way of creating applications," stated Jesse Shiah, CEO, President and Co-Founder of AgilePoint Inc., in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 15th Cloud Expo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Gridstore™, the leader in hyper-converged infrastructure purpose-built to optimize Microsoft workloads, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Gridstore™ is the leader in hyper-converged infrastructure purpose-built for Microsoft workloads and designed to accelerate applications in virtualized environments. Gridstore’s hyper-converged infrastructure is the industry’s first all flash version of HyperConverged Appliances that include both compute and storag...
Today’s enterprise is being driven by disruptive competitive and human capital requirements to provide enterprise application access through not only desktops, but also mobile devices. To retrofit existing programs across all these devices using traditional programming methods is very costly and time consuming – often prohibitively so. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jesse Shiah, CEO, President, and Co-Founder of AgilePoint Inc., discussed how you can create applications that run on all mobile devices as well as laptops and desktops using a visual drag-and-drop application – and eForms-buildi...
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...
Code Halos - aka "digital fingerprints" - are the key organizing principle to understand a) how dumb things become smart and b) how to monetize this dynamic. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Robert Brown, AVP, Center for the Future of Work at Cognizant Technology Solutions, outlined research, analysis and recommendations from his recently published book on this phenomena on the way leading edge organizations like GE and Disney are unlocking the Internet of Things opportunity and what steps your organization should be taking to position itself for the next platform of digital competition.
The 3rd International Internet of @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 its Call for Papers is now open. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the biggest idea since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago.
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 @ThingsExpo, Andrew Bolwell, Director of Innovation for HP's Printing and Personal Systems Group, discussed how key attributes of mobile technology – touch input, sensors, social, and ...