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Top user companies accelerating cloud adoption, says user group

Year-old Open Data Center Alliance includes firms that represent $100B-plus in annual IT spending

November 7, 2011 06:00 AM ET

Computerworld - The Wild West era of cloud computing is ending. So says cloud computing's new sheriff, a user group called the Open Data Center Alliance.

This alliance, founded just a year ago, now has some 300 members, including some of the world's largest companies. In total, these firms account for more than $100 billion in annual IT spending. The group was launched with 70 members that represented over $50 billion in collective IT spending.

Andrew Stokes, chief infrastructure architect at Deutsche Bank, called the alliance the "voice of the enterprise customers," at a press briefing last week.

Along with Deutsche Bank, members of the alliance include automaker BMW, financial services firm JPMorgan Chase, hospitality firm Marriott International and energy company Shell.

The group aims to get virtualization software vendors and cloud vendors to adopt uniform practices in managing cloud environments, and seeks transparency in cloud service capabilities.

The alliance also plans to create metrics that would allow easy comparison of cloud products from different providers.

Uniform practices could include, for instance, similar methods among cloud vendors for starting, stopping and creating virtual machines.

Leaders of the group stressed that the Open Data Center Alliance is that it is not the type of user organizations that begins with a big bang and then fades away.

"We certainly have a bias toward action in this space," said Andrew Feig, the global head of financial services firm UBS's Technology Advisory Group, of cloud computing.

Feig pointed to the group's own membership surveys that forecasts public and private cloud adoption at a rate that is five-times faster than the overall cloud market forecast.

More than 40% of its members expect to run more than 40% of internal IT systems in cloud environments within two years, the group said.

Vendors are listening, apparently, and becoming involved as well. Hewlett-Packard, Computer Associates and VMware have all agreed to become members.

The vendors in the group are looking at its requirements for cloud computing, and are "trying to tune their products and their strategies, and their thinking towards this new reality that we're trying to bring of open standards and open interoperability in this cloud space," said Stokes.

The organization is also working to align the various cloud standards efforts now underway. For example, officials said the Open Data Center Alliance is now collaborating with the Cloud Security Alliance and other groups.

Nonetheless, there do remain other independent efforts at cloud standards development, such as the IBM-backed initiative Cloud Standards Customer Council.

Patrick Thibodeau covers SaaS and enterprise applications, outsourcing, government IT policies, data centers and IT workforce issues for Computerworld. Follow Patrick on Twitter at Twitter@DCgov, or subscribe to Patrick's RSS feed Thibodeau RSS. His e-mail address is pthibodeau@computerworld.com.

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