Intel’s Imad Sousou: Open Cloud Standards will Emerge With More Collaboration

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Standardization is the biggest issue facing the open source cloud today, says Imad Sousou, director of Intel’s Open Source Technology Center. Adoption of open formats and interfaces will ensure flexibility and choice for users and vendors of the cloud.

Imad Sousou, IntelIt’s up to the innovators in this space -- the developers and industry leaders, such as Intel – to set out those standards through open collaboration, he says. Initiatives, such as Intel’s Open Data Center Alliance and the OpenStack project, are leading the effort. And conferences, such as The Linux Foundation’s CloudOpen, to be held Aug. 29-31, also help push the discussion forward by bringing developers together.

Sousou, who will give a keynote presentation at CloudOpen on “The Importance of Linux at Intel,” answered some of our questions about how the community could create an open cloud and the role that Intel, as a hardware vendor, can play in the process.

How do you define the open cloud?

Imad Sousou: Interoperability is required for unfettered competition and unrestricted choice for users and vendors. Users must be able to come and go with no barriers to entry or exit, regardless of who they are and what systems they use.

The open cloud must meet these requirements:

-       Use Open Formats, where all user data and metadata must be represented in Open Standard formats.

-       Use Open Interfaces, where functionality must be exposed through Open Standard interfaces.

In addition, in the open cloud, various open source technologies should be available to build the right solutions efficiently and to drive innovation. These would include software stack and tools, such as the hypervisors or operating systems, middleware, such as databases and web servers, web content management systems, and development tools and languages. Such open source-based software solutions would reinforce interoperability.

What are the issues that need to be addressed to create an open cloud?

Sousou: The biggest issue is getting to the point where we have open standards on formats and interfaces that are independent of vendor and platform. Standardization, in the sense of “official” cloud standards blessed by standards bodies, is still in its infancy. However, approaches to interoperability that aren't under the control of individual vendors and that aren't tied to specific platforms, offer important flexibility. This allows the API specification to evolve beyond implementation constraints and creates the opportunity for communities and organizations to develop variants that meet their individual technical and commercial requirements.

What is the role of a hardware vendor, such as Intel, in creating open standards for cloud platforms?

Sousou: Intel’s core strategy is to make sure our platforms work seamlessly with our customer’s choice of operating environments. As an element of this strategy, we believe openness in software and architectures is a big win for users. This is also true for cloud computing, and Intel is willing to work closely with the cloud ecosystem to drive that direction. Intel helped form the Open Data Center Alliance, which works with existing standards organizations, such as DMTF, to help develop open, interoperable cloud standards.

ldc article opencloudDoes there need to be an effort to create a standard or will a standard emerge through market forces?

Sousou: A standard will emerge through coordination efforts among developers, who are actually leading the innovation. From our experience, we believe that standardization itself cannot be effective without implementation. Fortunately, we have numerous successful open source projects for the cloud, and a standard is being defined. We believe coordinated efforts among these developers are crucial when defining a versatile standard. Conferences like CloudOpen will be tremendously helpful in that sense.

Can you give us a preview of your keynote at CloudOpen? Why is Linux important to Intel and how is that related to the open cloud?

Sousou: Today, Intel is one of the top contributors to the Linux kernel and Linux is the engine of the open cloud. The Linux kernel can be the hypervisor or it can be the operating system in the open cloud. Also, almost all open source projects support Linux. We believe our efforts on Linux and the open cloud will directly or indirectly benefit our customers.

Why does Intel find it important to attend and participate in events such as CloudOpen? 

Sousou: As a key developer in the open source community, Intel will participate in CloudOpen to share our experiences and thoughts, concerning the open cloud, with other developers. At the same time, it provides a great opportunity for us to learn about many other open source projects that make up or support the open cloud. As mentioned above, participating in events, such as CloudOpen, is one of the most effective ways to help achieve the open cloud.