Platform Computing, CERN and cloud standards

Now that the snow is starting to melt around the D.C. region, Fed Cloud Blog is trying to get back to normal.

Today, we continue our conversation with Randy Clark, CMO of Platform Computing.

Platform Computing is a global company and has done work with CERN. He explains what they’ve been doing in the cloud together.

Randy Clark: CERN is, I would argue, the world’s leading research organization both in terms of the work that it does and the scope of involvement that it has with other research organizations.

One of the best practices that CERN is doing is evolving.

They are evolving from a grid environment to more of a private cloud environment.

The other best practice is that they’re allowing their end user organizations — other research organizations that they collaborate with, and even smaller, virtual organizations — they’re allowing those end users to, in effect, choose what type of applications they use and what kind of environments they run.

So, the notion of building a core infrastructure-as-a-service that’s a stable, shared resource, and then expanding out services beyond that and give end users choice is, I think, a best practice that they’re at the forefront of.

FCB: Just to follow up . . . [what about] having one standard for cloud computing? Do you foresee that as a possibility in the future?

There is, of course, increasing globalization, but do you see that different countries are going to do it different ways — and different countries and organizations and governments are going to do it different ways?

RC: It’s the age-old question of innovation versus standardization.

If history is a lesson, we will end up with standards.

Many of those will be defacto standards. Many of those will then be codified by various government agencies or regulators, but that process takes time. In the in between, the market is not going to wait and people are attempting to design as open a system as they can architect.

I think CERN is a good example of that.

If you look back to what they did and their role was in helping the Internet develop and standards develop there.

They have a slightly different role when it comes to cloud computing — more of a user than an advocate, per se — but the need to develop and use open products in a platform computing case — they’re driving us to be very open and heterogenous in our support of different tools out there.

Those types of standards will be out in the marketplace before they’re codified by the various agencies or are so defacto in nature that everybody agrees, even if it’s proprietary as a standard.

Cloud computing is a style of computing, not a technology, per se. The opportunity for the government couldn’t be bigger in the sense that they can share vast amounts of resources across departments and get a whole new cost structure and level of responsiveness to their business users.

That’s important to keep in mind.

Cloud is not a silver bullet, but the opportunity is huge and the starting points are really private clouds.

What we’re seeing with the various system integrators is the need to build these private clouds and build increasingly shared resource pools that abstract the complexity of IT for the various government agencies.

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