Microsoft Rides Cloud to Open Data Center Alliance Membership

An unlikely ally? An IT group committed to open standards in cloud services and infrastructures welcomes Microsoft into the fold.

The Open Data Center Alliance (ODCA), a group whose mission is to promote an open and interoperable IT ecosystem for data center operators, has attracted a new member, and it's a big one.

Microsoft has joined the ranks as a contributing member. According to Windows Azure General Manager Bill Hilf, the company will bring its considerable experience and expertise in building massive cloud data center infrastructures to the proceedings.

"In line with Windows Azure's commitment to openness and interoperability, we are pleased to join ODCA and work with industry leadership on standards for the cloud. We are dedicated to serving the industry and customers by providing an open, reliable and global approach to the cloud, and we look forward to contributing to the ODCA's mission," Hilf stated in prepared remarks.

The ODCA member roster has more than 300 companies and includes several IT organizations, including Dell, Hewlett-Packard, EMC and Ret Hat. A steering committee, comprising executives from Capgemini, Lockheed Martin and Walt Disney, among others, heads the ODCA. Intel serves as the group's technical advisor.

In Microsoft, the ODCA has snagged a high-profile and potentially hugely influential partner in furthering its goals of marshaling the IT industry toward open cloud infrastructures.

In 2011, the ODCA issued eight sets of requirements that constitute an open data center usage model. Taking a cue from open software organizations, the alliance is looking to avoid vendor lock-in in the cloud computing market while it is still in its nascent stages.

Somewhat ironically, the ODCA feels it has found an ally in a company that historically hasn't been known to embrace open software. When it comes to the cloud, however, Microsoft has shown a willingness to play nice with the open-source software community.

Windows Azure, the software heavyweight's cloud computing platform, hit a major milestone in June 7, 2012. The company rolled out Windows Azure virtual machines, extending infrastructure as a service (IaaS) functionality to both Windows and Linux-based workloads. Microsoft also opened up Azure to MongoDB, Solr and CouchDb, in addition to several other popular open-source software development tools and Web application frameworks.

Six months earlier, the company made a big change regarding Azure libraries for .NET, Java and Node.js. Microsoft announced Dec. 12, 2011, that access had transitioned to an Apache 2 open-source license and was hosted on GitHub. The company also laid the groundwork for OSS-powered big data workloads by launching a limited preview of an Apache Hadoop-based service that accelerated the deployment of Hadoop applications.

Undoubtedly aided by these initiatives, Microsoft fits the bill in the ODCA's eyes.

ODCA Chairman Mario Mueller, who also serves as vice president of IT Infrastructure, noted in a statement, "In order to truly accelerate availability of cloud services, enterprise IT needs to work closely with cloud service and solution providers. Microsoft's participation is a valuable addition to the organization's mission, and we heartily welcome their membership."

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez is a contributor to eWEEK and the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Previously, he served as a managing editor for the network of...