Will improved efficiency mean increased consumption of OpenStack services?

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With the release of OpenStack Havana, it seems appropriate to spend some time looking at the aims of the OpenStack community. For me, one of the key objectives of the OpenStack Foundation and its supporters is an open marketplace of IT services delivered at a fraction of today’s costs for hand-built IT solutions. These services can be applied to address a wider range of business challenges.

With OpenStack application programming interfaces (APIs) adopted as a common working language for configuring and exploiting infrastructure as a service (IaaS) cloud services, the promise of an expanded marketplace is great. The growing consumption of OpenStack-based services is almost a certainty. Technical innovation is derived from open standards, interoperability, a common API and a large marketplace for OpenStack compatible applications, agile development suites, service management tools, clouds and devices, delivering easier-to-consume services at a lower cost.

The challenge is maintaining compatibility across multiple vendors consuming OpenStack and delivering solutions focused on their own client sets and value propositions, as David Linthicum says in his blog post, “What are the pros and cons of open computing? Or will OpenStack live?” It is a challenge that the OpenStack community needs to address. The benefits are great for everyone, and this is an objective that IBM is committed to, along with the OpenStack Foundation.

The increasing consumption of IT services (especially OpenStack) as the ease of delivery increases and the cost reduces is entirely in line with an economic theory called Jevons paradox. The theory was put forward in the late 19th century during the Industrial Revolution by the English economist William Jevons. He observed that technological improvements that increased the efficiency of coal usage led to increased consumption of coal in a wide range of industries.

The efficiency and size of steam engines increased by a factor of 1,000 in less than 100 years. In an argument that is frequently used in the discussion of the energy efficiency in IT delivery, Jevons made the case that technological improvements would not reduce coal (energy) consumption. This seems to be the opposite of common assumptions. As services reduce in cost, more are consumed. The sustainable, energy efficient delivery of IT services is another topic of great interest to me, but that is another discussion.

With the broad industry commitment to OpenStack, the open marketplace looks assured. In future blog posts I will look at where IBM is adopting OpenStack and some of the solutions being delivered.

(Follow Steve Strutt on Twitter: @SteveStrutt)

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