Cloud CIO: The Next Generation Cloud Offering

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Last week I wrote about how CIOs should go about rolling out cloud computing initiatives. In the piece, my conclusion was headed "An Unusually Fast Platform Shift"; I noted that the pace of innovation and adoption regarding cloud computing far outstrips any previous platform shift.

This week, two announcements reinforced that perspective. Both of them are critical for CIOs going forward with cloud computing plans and, though not much commentary has linked them, I believe they are complementary and reflect how profoundly cloud computing will change the nature of corporate IT in the future.

The first announcement was Facebook's announcement of its Open Compute Project. Facebook set out two years ago to rethink data center design, custom creating an integrated facility that uses bespoke hardware, external air, no air conditioning, innovative floor design, and more, to provide a much less expensive approach to operating a data center. For details on Facebook's own data center that implements this design, see James Hamilton's excellent writeup here.

The second announcement was VMware's announcement of its CloudFoundry project, which provides a open source-licensed, generalized Platform-as-a-Service framework. VMware has purchased a number of open source software companies, whose products are included in the CloudFoundry framework. CloudFoundry goes well beyond an integrated product suite and provides a programming framework to allow developers to create elastic, scalable applications without needing to trouble themselves with the details of coordinating individual compute resources like virtual machines, databases, etc. Moreover, VMware is providing a hosted version of CloudFoundry for developers to use. Finally, CloudFoundry is cloud-agnostic, supporting the deployment of CloudFoundry-based applications to a variety of cloud providers, including ones that are not VMware software based (as well as internal private clouds located on-premise within companies). For more info on CloudFoundry, here is a video interview of Tod Nielsen of VMware, by Robert Scoble (@scobleizer) of Rackspace.

Each announcement is important in its own right, but, taken together, they provide a vision of what the future of computing will look like. Let's drill down on each one to understand the implications.

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