Open Networking User Group looks to reign in ‘Wild West’ of hybrid cloud

Fortune 500 companies complain about lack of standards between public and private clouds

The Open Networking User Group (ONUG) announced this week the creation of a new working group that will urge cloud service providers to make interoperability between public and private cloud easier.

“It’s a Wild West of how to engage cloud providers,” says Nick Lippis, co-founder of ONUG and an independent analyst. ONUG’s Open Hybrid Cloud committee includes members from organizations such as Cigna, Citigroup, Credit Suisse, FedEx, General Electric, Intuit, JPMorgan Chase, Morgan Stanley, UBS and Unilever.

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The working group will be focused on five areas they’d like to see improvements in hybrid cloud computing including: security; contract language and terms; skill sets; lock-in mitigation strategies; and technical architecture.

Lippis says hybrid cloud users have been struck by the lack of standards in the hybrid cloud industry. “Right now there aren’t hybrid cloud users: There are public and private cloud users, but they’re managed totally separately. There are no shared control points.” He’s hoping the Open Hybrid Cloud working group can aggregate concerns among users and communicate those to vendors.

One area the working group will be focusing on is technical architecture. To illustrate the problem, Lippis says many data center operations are based on VMware virtualized compute. Many public clouds are based on OpenStack (like Rackspace) architecture, or use other hypervisors like Xen (AWS) or KVM (Red Hat).

Even analysts agree that hybrid cloud computing has its challenges. Forrester analyst Dave Bartloletti recently examined more than a dozen hybrid cloud management products and found a fragmented market.

On the one hand there are management tools from traditional vendors like VMware and Microsoft. These companies offer hybrid cloud management capabilities, but they work best when staying within the VMware or Microsoft environments. Microsoft, for example recently announced Azure Stack, which is a private cloud that has high fidelity with the Azure public cloud. VMware has demonstrated the ability to do vMotion between VMware virtualized environments and the company’s vCloudAir public cloud. Hybrid cloud works if customers stay within a certain vendor’s products.

Bartoletti found another set of hybrid cloud management tools from startups and third-party providers, such as RightScale, Cliqr and others. These platforms attempt to act as a gateway between on-premises workloads and the public cloud. Bartoletti says hybrid cloud management tools are ready for production, but many are still maturing.

One problem with hybrid cloud is that the major public cloud vendors – namely Amazon Web Services and Google Compute Platform – don’t have much of an incentive to manage on-premises private clouds. Their view is that most all workloads should live in the public cloud, or in virtual private clouds they host. Perhaps getting some big name, Fortune 500 customers complaining about the issues will change their viewpoint.

The Open Hybrid Cloud committee is one of nine working groups ONUG has. Others include: virtual networks/overlays; SD-WAN; traffic monitoring/visibility/network state collection, correlation and analysts; common tools for automating initial configuration and change management; SDN Federation/operability; Software defined data center security fabric; network services broker; and now Open Hybrid cloud. The Open Hybrid Cloud working group will present their findings at ONUG’s spring meeting taking place in May.

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