Intel backs cloud alliance for economies of scale

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Intel backs cloud alliance for economies of scale

But call for standards raises 'Wintel' fears.

Intel has blamed a lack of open standards for its initial reluctance to enter the cloud computing market.

According to Jason Fedder, regional general manager of Intel's data centre products group, the company hesitated to "jump on board" until it was certain that the technology would be embraced.

"Until probably two years ago, it wasn't clear what technological underpinnings would drive cloud infrastructure," he said.

"Obviously, it is in our interest to drive open standards; our whole business model depends on standards."

Fedder explained that Intel's business model was based on economies of scale and thus would benefit from a mass market for standard, virtualised infrastructure.

Although Intel did not "have a particular view on which standards" should be adopted, the company called for interoperable, customer-driven requirements to guide vendors' efforts.

But according to Salesforce.com platform intelligence director Peter Coffee, standards would only serve to "mediocritise" cloud technology.

Coffee highlighted Microsoft and Intel's market dominance through their so-called 'Wintel' partnership, despite speculation that competing products from Motorola and Digital Research were technically superior.

"We have a very well-defined product," he told iTnews last week, noting that the platform-as-a-service provider did not wish to "dumb down what we could do".

Open Data Center Alliance

On 27 October, Intel backed the establishment of a 70-member end user alliance to advocate open standards for cloud computing.

The Open Data Centre Alliance represented $50 billion of annual IT expenditure on launch. It has since grown to 120 members in three levels - adopter, contributor, and steering committee.

By early 2011, the alliance was expected to release a vendor-agnostic 'Usage Model Roadmap' that would define the requirements of various usage models for the cloud.

Intel served as technical advisor to the alliance. Fedder declined to name other technical advisors, and a steering committee spokesman could not be reached.

Steering committee member National Australia Bank was the only Australian company to be listed as an alliance member on its website.

Other committee members were: BMW; China Life Insurance Company; Deutsche Bank; JPMorgan Chase; Lockheed Martin; Marriott International; Shell Global Solutions; Terremark; and UBS.

When it was launched, the alliance said it would engage extensively with vendors and include "anyone who is building cloud or data centre infrastructure and is unencumbered by vendor interests".

Today, Intel revealed that government agencies and a number of private sector organisations had been denied membership to the alliance.

Fedder explained that the group was wary of admitting organisations such as Telstra, Google and Amazon, which were cloud users as well as vendors.

Google and Amazon were also omitted from a separate, 'Intel Cloud Builders' vendor group that included Cisco, EMC, Citrix, RedHat and IBM because the cloud giants might find it "against their interest to share their secret sauce with everybody else", Fedder said.

The alliance had also decided not to include government organisations so discussions would be free from bureaucratic regulations, he said.

Intel has been involved industry groups responsible for the development of several standards, including USB 2.0 (pdf), PCI and the 802.11 wireless LAN standard.

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