TIBURON, Calif.—Imagine a shopping trip without some basic product standards. You go to a store such as Walmart to buy a table lamp to brighten a dark corner in your home.
But before you can plug the lamp into the wall, you must first purchase the proper power plug, then strip the ends of the power cord, wrap the bared ends around the proper terminals on the plug and then plug it into a power outlet in the wall. But before you can actually switch on that lamp, you must also purchase a light bulb and possibly even manually wire it into the lamp.
There was a time early in the days of electric services when you had to do that if you wanted a lamp for your home or office. Fortunately, standard plugs and receptacles were developed a century or so ago, and in most cases, products that met those standards were available.
But even today, there's not really a set of global standards for a wide range of electrical devices, as you've certainly found if you've tried to use your cell phone charger in the United States and Europe where plug types and voltages still differ.
I was talking with Angus Robertson about such standards during a lunch break at the 2015 Cloud Innovation Summit held here on April 24. Robertson is co-chair of the marketing committee of Open Cloud Connect, an industry alliance that's trying to do for cloud services what a standard plug did for electrical appliances.
Robertson observed that each time a company wants to change to a different cloud service or even use an additional service, it can take a significant amount of time and effort just to be able to make the connection. He said that it's essentially a manual process. "Changing from one cloud service to another can take months," Robertson said.
What Open Cloud Connect wants to do is make the whole thing automatic so that the costs are reduced or eliminated so that enterprises can connect to a cloud service quickly and easily. "Our ultimate vision is that there will be services that carriers can offer that make connecting quick and easy," he said. "Or they can go on to a portal and provision it themselves."
To accomplish this goal, the OCC group has published an open cloud reference architecture that represents a cloud ecosystem and its constituent service providers and enterprise software. "In this reference architecture, we've laid out where all these different interfaces are and standard terminology and naming," Robertson said.