I arrived in Santa Clara, CA this morning and headed straight over to Cloud Expo just in time to see Jonathan Bryce – Executive Director Openstack Foundation kick things off with his keynote “Open Cloud: Place Your Bets.”

What is the cloud?  That was a question we used to always ask. Today, we heard as much about what cloud is not, especially in Jonathan’s presentation.  No doubt, cloud is becoming a strategic imperative for many businesses small, medium, and large. As cloud becomes more strategic, IT vendors are coming out of the woodwork left and right offering cloud solutions.  Jonathan warns when trying to navigate offerings, there are three main factors to consider:

1. Watch for cloud band wagoners – cloud washing is everywhere.  Companies are increasingly placing the “cloud” label on things that are no different than what they were offering before.  Ask yourself, is it really cloud, or is it cloud washing? Is it elastic? Does it scale up and down?  If not, it’s probably is not cloud.

2. The power is also the risk – if you are tied to a specific vendor, technology, etc., your data center could be held hostage.  (They) want to put your data center in chains. The power of cloud becomes a huge risk if you get locked in to a specific hardware, software, or services provider.

3. The speed of cloud – Very few technology shifts have advanced as fast as cloud, and it shows no signs of slowing. The hottest companies out there are cloud companies – constantly innovating.  Cloud = services.  We need to think of cloud as services. How do get into cloud, but not get stuck in cloud 2012?  You need to be prepared to move as fast as cloud moves.

Open is the answer.

Why?  Because it guards against one of the biggest risks of cloud: vendor lock-in. One of the most tweeted quotes, “There’s a difference between sticky and lock-in” referencing open source versus proprietary solutions.  The key to technology that is sticky (open) is that it enables users to “run it how you want, where you want, on the hardware you want, with the tools you want.”

In addition to cloud-washing, there is also “open-washing”  which leverages the open source buzzword.  Jonathan went on to offer warnings with respect to choosing an open source solution:

So, for me, Jonathan set the tone for Cloud Expo.  The focus is on cloud’s reliance on open hardware and software for long term growth, adoption, and success. As I navigate the keynotes, general sessions, breakouts, etc., I’ll be sure to heed the warnings, not just this week, but as Seagate navigates this huge transformation called cloud.
Stay tuned for more from Cloud Expo.

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