Open Data Center Alliance, Part 7--Standard Units of Measure for IaaS

Cameron Sturdevant Cameron Sturdevant is the executive editor of Enterprise Networking Planet. Prior to ENP, Cameron was technical analyst at PCWeek Labs, starting in 1997. Cameron finished up as the eWEEK Labs Technical Director in 2012. Before his extensive labs tenure Cameron paid his IT dues working in technical support and sales engineering at a software publishing firm . Cameron also spent two years with a database development firm, integrating applications with mainframe legacy programs. Cameron's areas of expertise include virtual and physical IT infrastructure, cloud computing, enterprise networking and mobility. In addition to reviews, Cameron has covered monolithic enterprise management systems throughout their lifecycles, providing the eWEEK reader with all-important history and context. Cameron takes special care in cultivating his IT manager contacts, to ensure that his analysis is grounded in real-world concern. Follow Cameron on Twitter at csturdevant, or reach him by email at
By Cameron Sturdevant  |  Posted 2011-06-22 Email Print this article Print
2011-06-22 part 7 units of measure

This ODCA flow chart illustrates the need for standard units of measure so that cloud consumers can make rational choices when choosing between cloud providers.

The Open Data Center Alliance Standard Units of Measure of IaaS is the beginnings of a framework designed to help cloud consumers make rational choices about which cloud providers to use based on apples-to-apples comparisons.

The Standard Units of Measure (SUoM) where crafted for Iaas (Infrastructure as a Service) providers, but the principle applies to PaaS (Platform as a Service) and SaaS (Software as a Service.) Let the cat fights begin!

IT managers should support the ODCA's efforts to drag price/performance metrics into the open in order to hasten fair market pricing.

One control that the Open Data Center Alliance (ODCA) has wisely wrapped around the SUoM usage model is a four-tier (bronze/silver/gold/platinum) performance specification. This way, when cloud consumers see a jaw dropping cost estimate (either very low or very high) the next question should be answered by the fact that this is the "bronze" price or the "platinum" price.

The SUoM is filled with recommendations for specific benchmarks that should be used to describe and measure both quantitative and qualitative service attributes. As a big data center consumer group, it is natural and right that the ODCA seeks to make it easier and more precise for cloud users to compare offerings based in part on marketplace factors. And as has been the case for years in the private data center equipment market, there will be much wrangling about who fudged which factors to win the performance beauty contest.

The SUoM makes recommendations for making quantitative and qualitative comparisons. Regarding quantitative measures, the ODCA is concerned with attributes such as "...linear capability (e.g., 500 GB disk capacity), throughput (e.g., 2000 IOs per second), or consumption-based (e.g., $0.01 per million IO operations). The SUoM asks cloud providers to focus on measuring compute, storage, and network.

For quantitative measures, the ODCA says that "Qualitative Units can be described in very specific terms (e.g., precise details of the encryption standard), but for this use case, we will restrict the discussion to differentiating each qualitative service into levels of delivery, with further specificity to be added in later revisions." Enter the four-metal service categories.

Table of Contents for the Series:

1. IT Users Band Together: a brief introduction to the ODCA 2. Virtual Machine Interoperability 3. Carbon Footprint 4. Security Monitoring 5. Security Provider Assurance 6. Regulatory Framework 7. Standard Units of Measure for IaaS 8. Service Catalog 9. I/O Controls |

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