Enterprise cloud providers must borrow from Apple's playbook

But IT departments may not be ready to give up a degree of control to reduce time to value, complexity, and costs

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Cloud vendors still stuck in IT weeds, but for how much longer?

Try applying lessons from the iPhone to today's cloud offerings. To date, the most successful cloud provider, Amazon.com, enables IT to remain stuck in the weeds, with virtually all of the control and complexity it's used to. Is it any wonder that C-level folks aren't rushing to approve a "cloud project"?

OpenStack, the open source cloud computing platform, is firmly rooted in the infrastructure-as-a-service layer of the cloud computing spectrum. For all its aspirations, OpenStack doesn't remove the complexity of piecing together storage, networking, compute resources, and hypervisors from varying vendors.

Nebula, an OpenStack-based startup I've previously covered, tries to simplify the IT infrastructure piece through an appliance offering. But there's still a lot of work to provision a platform for the items your users -- and your C-level managers -- care about: applications.

In announcing Oracle's public cloud offerings this week, Larry Ellison called out Salesforce.com as the "roach motel" of cloud services. Although true to a degree, what Ellison neglected to mention is the immense value that Salesforce.com is providing to developers -- and ultimately users -- by offering a platform for applications. Sure, the applications have to fit in the APIs supported by Salesforce.com. Indeed, I argue that the fact that Salesforce.com's platform as a service is not standards-based, as Ellison pointed out in a roundabout fashion, should not be applied to PaaS cloud offerings in general.

Make no mistake that enterprise vendors, many of whom are bringing out enterprise cloud offerings, are going to take a page out of the Apple playbook. In fact, some already are. IBM (my employer) talks about workload-optimized systems. Oracle talks about hardware and software engineered together.

These offerings take away much of the time and challenges of building IT environments from piece parts. These environments fast-track the delivery of applications to users. Some IT departments will resist these pre-integrated products, especially in the cloud arena. After all, we IT folk like control.

But the fact that an order-of-magnitude-too-much control leads to complexity and gets in the way of providing applications to users is often an afterthought. For how much longer can we get away with that?

I should state: "The postings on this site are my own and don't necessarily represent IBM's positions, strategies, or opinions.

This article, "Enterprise cloud providers must borrow from Apple's playbook," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Read more of Savio Rodrigues's Open Sources blog and follow the latest developments in open source at InfoWorld.com. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.

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