Cloud Computing Use Case Project

Cloud computing allows the whole to be much greater than the sum of the parts

Robert Syputa, senior strategy analyst and partner with Maravedis; and Dirk Nicol, program director for Emerging Technology at IBM®, talk about the Cloud Computing Use Case Project.

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Scott Laningham (scottla@us.ibm.com), Podcast Editor, IBM developerWorks

Scott LaninghamScott Laningham, host of developerWorks podcasts, was previously editor of developerWorks newsletters. Prior to IBM, he was an award-winning reporter and director for news programming featured on Public Radio International, a freelance writer for the American Communications Foundation and CBS Radio, and a songwriter/musician.



25 February 2010

developerWorks: This is a developerWorks podcast. I'm Scott Laningham with Robert Syputa, senior strategy analyst and partner with Maravedis; and Dirk Nicol, program director for Emerging Technology at IBM. They're here to talk about a new project called the Cloud Computing Use Case Project.

Welcome to the podcast, guys.

Hear why standards are the key to effective cloud communication

Listen to this podcast.

Robert Syputa tweets. You can also get him at Cloud4G.com.

The Cloud Computing Use Cases group exists to define use cases for cloud computing. The current whitepaper is version 3 (with v4 coming soon). There is also a LinkedIn group to discuss cloud use case needs specific to China.

The Open Cloud Manifesto provides tons of resource documents and tweets.

Check out the Creative Commons licenses: They won't bite.

Nicol: Thanks, Scott. Glad to be here.

Syputa: Yes, thanks, Scott.

developerWorks: Dirk, I wonder if we could kick this off at the top here by getting you to just talk about the purpose of this whitepaper, the need that it's addressing, and why you all decided to do it.

Nicol: What we're hearing from the cloud community and customers is that the issue around cloud interoperability, standards, portability, and security were top of mind for the customers, so we wanted to help facilitate the conversation around these topics.

The kind of journey began with our participation and the Open Cloud Manifesto effort, which spelled out some core principles around open cloud computing; essentially saying:

  • The community to define open cloud should be customer-driven.
  • That if there's existing standards, those should be used instead of creating new ones.
  • And if new standards were needed, the community should work together and stay coordinated, making sure that efforts weren't duplicated.

So once these core principles were sort of established, sort of as a follow-up to the manifesto, which I think currently has around 340 companies in it collaborating in a variety of issues, we wanted to help facilitate a new forum or discussion group to give a voice to customers around requirements for an open cloud.

And so we started thinking about the process and we wanted to kind of get away from a lot of the noise and hype and confusion that existed around the conversation around cloud computing; instead drive towards some tangible results while working with kind of speed and urgency. And so with that we initiated this discussion forum where we set a goal to produce a whitepaper around every 60 days, which was grounded and driven by real customer use cases.

The most interesting aspect of this is that we based it sort of on an open source model approach where the content is developed based on a meritocracy; you know, essentially if you produce something the community sees that it is valuable, then it kind of gets into the paper.

developerWorks: Oh, so you opened sourced the whitepaper, is that what you mean?

Nicol: Yes. So in an open source project, individuals come together, introduce content, and that then makes the foundation for the code that's produced. And so we use the same model where anybody can participate and individuals come together and it's based on the quality of the content, not who you are.

We sort of facilitate that process. So it's a little bit of a non-traditional approach. You know, typically somebody wants to create a document or whitepaper they sort of line up big companies, right, and then they build the document based on their input. And the hope is that the status of the companies will give the document credibility.

developerWorks: Right.

Nicol: And in the end often what you end up with is something with sort of a limited point of view. So we took the opposite approach; so more of a bottoms-up approach. So this paper's community driven where everyone can participate. There's no dues or membership or voting, etc. People are not hand picked. It's truly a bottoms-up approach where the content speaks for itself and not the logos on the cover sheet per se.

So the community has produced three versions of this document in the last few months. We kind of treat it like a software release, where each version builds on the previous version. So we've just produced actually this week V3, which was focused on security. The first version was focused on general use cases, the second on developer requirements, and the third is on security.

Everything's developed under the Creative Commons license so the content can be used by anyone. In fact, we've published all the source files. And currently we have around 1,100 individuals who are part of the group and over 60 authors who have developed content for the paper.

And we've received a lot of good feedback from customers and individuals and governments and a variety of people who have been using this document as sort of an indispensable resource for navigating the issues around cloud computing and open standards.

developerWorks: Wonderful. And Robert, as Dirk mentioned to me earlier that you've been a big contributor to this. And he also talked about some of those issues that are important to clients, open standards ... we've talked about interoperability, portability, wireless obviously being your focus area.

I wonder if you could talk about the importance of these things that are being discussed here, open standards for example, to the wireless space? What have you been getting out of this process?

Syputa: Well, I agree that what's important about this process is that it's very open and so there's progressed along with the various papers that covered topics that have come up according to kind of the polling of the interest of the group. So I think that's very important as it moves forward. Hopefully we can cover some additional topics. I invite the ... look at the wireless and try to move into that area.

But what really excites me about this vision of cloud computing as it's flushing out and growing is that being from the wireless realm, wireless is going to play a very important role in really delivering the cloud computing to that kind of anywhere-kind-of-environment and making it more personal.

Many of these issues like security on the cloud computing become really in focus in the wireless realm where people are carrying devices with them, and that opens up different issues in security. The wireless world tends to be or has been this separate kind of world where corporations or organizations have made use of wireless certainly, but it's increasingly becoming part of the broadband picture and part of the IT environment.

And as we move forward, it's very important that the wireless realm mold itself to the aspirations of organizations and individuals to be part of the cloud computing, have the service level agreements and security issues handled in an open manner to facilitate the cloud.

developerWorks: What kind of reaction have you all been getting to the paper? And not only the process of its creation and the participants and what they think of it, but what are you hearing externally in regard to the value of this paper?

Nicol: Well, this is Dirk. A couple things. I think one thing is that there's lots of hype around cloud computing and so getting clarity and some simple-to-understand language and content is not easy to do. There's lots of excitement and lots of different information out there.

So one thing we've heard is that having one document that kind of clearly outlines from a customer point of view and simple-to-understand language ... what are the big issues and what are the things people need to be thinking about when they're moving to the cloud?

And so we've heard a lot of good things from, say, customers who are trying to decide "should I move parts of my data center to the cloud; and should I move some of my IT infrastructure to internal clouds? What are all these issues and how do they all interrelate?" And so, from an educational standpoint and from a clarity standpoint, we have heard a lot of good feedback.

We also heard a lot from governments who are getting very involved with the cloud that has really helped them kind of crystalize their understanding of how to help inform their citizens and their public around cloud computing, how to use it. So that's been valuable.

So overall, yes, we've got a lot of good feedback and the community continues to grow. The downloads and distribution of the whitepaper continues to grow. So we're pretty pleased with it and kind of where it's been going.

developerWorks: Robert, is cloud computing a big blip on the radar in the wireless arena right now or what ... kind of where is that at in terms of focus and interest in it?

Syputa: Well, there's a lot of interest from where it stands as far as how much of the revenue is industry is driven by cloud computing at this point. The whole wireless realm is now coming into broadband as being a more central focus. It's driving the revenues from subscribers even as the voice and messaging revenues are being impacted with lower cost. That's going to trend down in cost, the data on the network or wireless networks is increasing and will continue to increase. In fact, it's increasing in some networks to the point that it's causing problems with capacity on the networks. So it's a very important part.

Now, cloud computing itself is still at kind of a threshold level for how important the wireless world is to cloud computing. It's one of those, first you have to have the capacity, then you have to have the devices, then you have to have the applications come up that are really made to be useful.

Some of these things ... remote conferencing, conferencing on the fly ... things that you might be able to do with mobile devices have yet to really come into play as a real important aspect of how most companies operate. But in some cases there's enough going on there that you can see that it's going to or it's now becoming an important part.

And from the plans of companies that are developing software and devices I could say they certainly think it's going to become increasingly an area that they hope to build their business growth in the future. So, currently and in going forward.

developerWorks: Dirk, I'd like to ask you, and, Robert, chime in too if you want to, but do you guys see a momentum building now with cloud computing as a result of all of these things we're talking about, a very noticeable build in momentum?

Nicol: I think there's several sort of converging technology revolutions or evolutions, depending on how you look at it. I'm sure of coming together that are really taking I think the value to customers and individuals to the next level. I mean, so cloud computing in and of itself has I think a great value proposition around cost effectiveness and availability.

And then you marry that with this conversation we've been having around wireless which again is sort of universal availability with this proliferation of devices and low-cost, high-functionality smartphones.

So you marry those two together and you've got sort of universal access anytime, anywhere, and the notion of this cloud computing sort of moves a lot of the computing resources off of the device; it enables the device to do more things for the individual.

And a lot of these factors are enabled by this notion of standards which is kind of, one of the themes of this whitepaper we've been talking about. And that open standards that a lot of people have agreed on, whether they're web standards, an HTML, an HTML 5, wireless standards, or the device standards ... all those sort of lower the cost, allow these computing capabilities to interact with each other in a more effective way and enable sort of the universal access that really has changed the value proposition to be something much greater than any of the individual pieces.

Syputa: Yes, I think that's exactly right. You know, if you move into ... where we're at today is you're able now seeing the proliferation of devices like the iPhone and iPad or, those are buzzwords out there, but we're really at the stage now where mobile data and in the cloud is a practical way for companies to lower their cost for individuals to get more entertainment and have the social networking or social value so the proposition in very real ways that are driving the market and are driving the market forward.

This demand side and value proposition side of what's happening, it compels people to say "hey, we need to have agreement on standards. We need to have common focus or get our focus heard, get the users' perspective heard, get the enterprise and government perspective heard out there" towards how these networks are being accessed, how the service agreements are being, evolving in the marketplace so that it's happening in a rationally, uniformly, internationally with lesser confusion, put it that way, and more flushing out of these common goals.

So I think it's now the time to really be putting this together and working on it. It's happening and it will either happen without direction or with more direction. So I think that the efforts like this are very opportune and very timely.

developerWorks: Would you like to say anything specific to the developerWorks audience about opportunities to participate or where people should go to follow what's going on to consume the information and see what's coming next?

Nicol: A couple things. As far as next steps, one of the things we have been watching and learning and observing is that this cloud computing phenomena is far beyond sort of a US focus. I mean, it's a global initiative and so one of the things we want to do is really expand this discussion and this community that we've established to other parts of the world and other geographies.

So one of the things that we'll do in the next few days or weeks is kick off a Chinese community around use cases so that the Chinese geography can have this conversation that's bringing issues that are specific to the Chinese communities and customers and so forth.

And so we'll translate this document as sort of a seed for that community, but we're hoping that the Chinese community and cloud community will sort of take it and run and sort of customize it to their own particular needs and interests.

So that's one area. And we'll look for other geographies and other languages to sort of kick start other communities.

And then as we mentioned earlier, in the next couple days we'll kick the community off into version 4 ... what should we cover? And we'll get lots of feedback. So I just encourage anybody in the audience to join in and participate. It's an open community, anybody can join.

The best way to get to it is type in cloud computing use cases. And we're usually at the top of the list. It's a Google group that we're using currently to have the discussion.

You can also get all the source documents at the opencloud manifesto.org/resources.htm. And we can have these links I guess, Scott, in some of the material around the podcast.

But I encourage anybody just to join in and join the conversation. Everybody's welcome. It's open to anybody. And we look forward to your participation.

developerWorks: Absolutely. We'll put that link in the notes around the podcasts and my blog and on the podcast page. You guys aren't Twittering? What's up with that? [LAUGHTER]

Nicol: We Twitter. We got a Twitter, we got a LinkedIn, we got a website, we've got all that stuff. So we'll put all those links out there for you.

developerWorks: Oh, good. I'll include all of that. And Robert, that's a good way to track you down, too or did you actually want to give out any specific link for you in case anybody wants to get in touch with you?

Syputa: Well, the link specific to the cloud computing arena and that's cloud4g.com. And you can contact me through that or look and see what's up there. Make any contributions or comments you want to there.

developerWorks: Well, this is great. And something I think we'll certainly want to keep our eye on to see what comes with new versions of the paper and how the whole process is continuing.

So Robert Syputa again with Maravedis and Dirk Nicol with IBM, thank you both for making time for this.

Nicol: Thanks a lot, Scott. Thanks, Robert.

Syputa: Thanks, Scott. Thanks, Dirk.

developerWorks: And again, links related to this podcast that were mentioned here, you can find them on the developerWorks podcast page or in My developerWorks blog. The podcast page is ibm.com/developerWorks/podcasts and you'll find a link to my blog in the right hand nav of that page.

This has been a developerWorks podcast. I'm Scott Laningham. Talk to you soon.

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