Every now and again I attempt to peak outside of my enterprise infrastructure bubble and think about one of our primary customers – Developers. I’ve been on record in saying one of the primary reasons for adopting a private Cloud is to build Cloud aware applications and services. There is some advantage to providing self-service portals that allow developers to check out infrastructure resources for development and test. However, self-service is just one of the many use cases for cloud and not the primary benefit for service transformation CIO’s are looking to Cloud to achieve.
Now the question for selecting a cloud platform is does it matter to enterprise developers which platform/API they use to develop their Cloud based applications? Eucalyptus and Dell announced an AWS API compatible private cloud which prompted my question. Ultimately, the question of OpenStack vs. AWS or vCloud boils down to which platform will allow the enterprise to reach its business objective. The CIO’s objective for Cloud (private or public) is to enable the business to meet elastic demand as quickly as possible. In other words, IT needs to respond to the needs of the business. The primary reason Amazon is so popular outside of IT is this elasticity that the service model brings. What it also has brought is a pool of developers that understands how to code using the AWS API.
I don’t think the impact of the pool of developers with AWS programming skill can be overestimated. Just as AWS has created a bunch of unmeasured shadow IT, it has created a bunch of shadow developers with skill and a possible preference for the AWS API. The enterprise will want to continue to leverage these resources they’ve willingly or unwillingly cultivated. The question is how this aligns with your Private Cloud strategy.
This is another example of the need for enterprise IT to listen. Too many times we (enterprise IT) forge ahead without gathering requirements. As a CIO, we can provide an elastic Private Cloud that gives every benefit of Amazon except for the familiar API and fail in winning over the departments that created the shadow IT headache we tried to solve.
Ultimately, it may not matter if we build private clouds based on OpenStack or vCloud. It’s all still about the developers and what they are willing to build on because, unlike the past, they still have the option of outsourcing their infrastructure to AWS, Dell, Rackspace and etc. by just pulling at their credit card.