Opsware Chairman Marc Andreessen has never shied away from the bleeding edge. The creator of Netscape, which was one of the fundamental drivers that helped popularize the Internet, Andreessen has consistently pushed toward that edge and suffered some cuts and bruises but never a critical amount of blood loss.
At Opsware he oversees the company's aggressive efforts to forge the concepts of automating the complete IT life cycle of large companies, including provisioning, deploying, changing, and scaling, and consolidating servers and business applications as a way of lowering IT costs. With Tuesday's announcement, Opsware is attempting to extend the envelope proposing the new Data Center Markup Language [DCML] and the DCML Organization that will serve as a foundation on which users can build interoperable applications in hopes of making utility and grid computing into practical realities.
IW: How soon do you expect to gain the support of IBM, Microsoft, and Sun on this -- who were conspicuous by their absence today?
Andresseen: Well right now we have companies like Computer Associates, BEA, EDS, Tibco, MicroMuse, and NetIQ. And if you look at the cross section of vendors like CA, NetIQ, MicroMuse, they comprise a very large percentage of the installed monitoring systems. Tibco is petty dominant in enterprise messaging and BEA has good share among Web application servers, so we think this is a really good starting point. The observation that we make is, traditionally the big technology companies tend to be late adopters of standards, especially standards they didn't invent. But they eventually adopt them in response to customer demand because customers are usually very much in favor of this kind of thing, which is what we think the case will be case here. They move relatively slowly to wait to see what sort of traction it gets. So I think it will take a little time.
To me the analogies that apply here are to TCP/IP and HTML, which all the companies you just mentioned were not in favor of originally but ended up adopting them and are enthusiastic supporters of them. DCML is that kind of thing where they can pick it up and adopt it whenever they want. The standard is open and they will be able to pull the Reference Implementation down off the Internet like anyone else. So in time it will be easy for them to support.
IW: Do you intend to take this to standards bodies such as the W3C and OASIS, and, if so, when?
Andresseen: That will be something under discussion with the original 25 partners. It will be one of our first topics of discussion. It will happen for sure, but we will talk to the group at large to discuss the timeframe.
IW: How long before some of the companies backing this can deliver products that ascribe to the standard?