It took longer than the group anticipated, but its first use cases are up running on the organization’s permanent, multicarrier test bed. (Technically, the test bed was built by a separate but related organization called the OpenCloud Project.) Representatives of OpenCloud — originally named the CloudEthernet Forum — were on hand at Interop to give the media the lowdown in an informal Wednesday afternoon session.
The first use case, highlighted at Interop, is a secured, managed cloud service over a carrier network. Specifically, Comcast’s Carrier Ethernet network is being used to connect into Hubble, a cloud-based business management suite run by Insight Software. At the other end of Comcast’s connection is one of OpenCloud’s labs, playing the role of an enterprise data center.
About half of OpenCloud’s 28 members — a group that includes carriers, cloud providers, an equipment vendors — participated in this first set of use cases, officials said. Membership has lagged a bit, both in terms of numbers and in terms of interest, as many companies took a “wait-and-see” approach toward the young organization, said Angus Robertson, vice president of product marketing for Insight Software and marketing co-chair of OpenCloud.
“We took longer than we wanted to, to get the architecture published,” he said. “Now we’re having to bring back into the fold some of the users who haven’t been as active.”
Some of those names include Huawei, whose OpenCloud representative happened to leave the company, and AT&T, which was more absorbed with NFV work at ETSI but started showing more interest during OpenCloud’s latest quarterly meeting, in Lisbon, Robertson said.
Robertson understands the caution. “There are so many ‘opens’ and so many ‘clouds’ out there,” he said.
OpenCloud is closely related to the Metro Ethernet Forum (MEF) and aims to do for cloud what the MEF did for Ethernet services. That is, OpenCloud wants to establish some standard definitions for services, making sure the same names and expectations are applied to the same concepts everywhere. OpenCloud also wants to draft best practices for cloud connectivity and create common interfaces among cloud providers, setting up potential standards in that area.
To do this, the group is copying the new age techniques of DevOps organizations and open source projects: Code first, ask questions later. A traditional standards-body approach, taking years, would not keep up with the speed of cloud development, OpenCloud representatives say.
The subtext to all this is that carriers want to promote the use of Carrier Ethernet services, rather than the Internet, as a means of connecting enterprises to the cloud. It’s not a radical idea, but the establishment of standards would help carriers set up these services more quickly, especially in cases where multiple carriers are involved. The Secure and Manged Cloud Service use case is meant to be a basic demonstration of the idea, potentially showing the advantages of a Carrier Ethernet connection.
These efforts would help carriers, but they might mean more if OpenCloud can get more cloud service providers involved. Robertson’s employer, Insight, is one, but the biggest players, such as Amazon Web Services, might be less motivated to participate.
“There are others that, for quite some time, will be proprietary because they can afford to be,” Robertson said, although he didn’t name AWS in particular.