Sometimes we forget that since the days of the giant IBM mainframes, computing boils down to a series of 1s and 0s. It’s a software program with a series of executables, not really a choice of “one or the other.” As computing has evolved, the user experience now plays a huge role in determining whether something new is adopted and the speed and ease of that adoption.
And when it comes to adopting something new like cloud computing – whether it be private or public – the process that leads to an ease of adoption is more about testing and measuring in order to get a feel for how this new model works. Administrators and end users need time to get acclimated with new systems and tools in order to achieve optimum integration.
Cloud computing is no different. Last week, the stage was set for a lively debate between public cloud rivals at GigaOM Structure in San Francisco. Executives from Citrix, Eucalyptus and the OpenStack project participated in a panel discussion, called “API Wars,” where they debated the relative degree and importance of open APIs. The banter between these experts made for good theater, but an opportunity was lost to reinforce several important points: adoption is rarely one of two choices, there are multiple levels of openness, and there are real benefits using a more closed system to learn. The panelists could have certainly argued all day about the purity of standards or which “stack is better,” but ultimately it boils down to (notice I didn’t say ‘at the end of the day?’) enabling users to gain value from technology and implement new ideas as easily and quickly as possible.
If you have a very customer-focused application and no ‘off the shelf’ tools will work, very flexible and open APIs might be a requirement. I also believe a case can be made for some customers leaning toward utilizing more restrictive APIs or making fewer choices available because it might make it easier to learn the basic ‘how to’ and get started. Neither model is wrong. In fact, we have seen many examples of both approaches working, like Java on the open community side. And one of the reasons Amazon has been easy to adopt is they have made decisions for customers despite its more constrained platform. Over time, both models will flourish.
The complexity of today’s cloud computing and the sophistication of its users are no longer satisfied with just 1s and 0s. While we won’t have infinite cloud options and delivery models, we will have enough to ensure that people will be comfortable adopting them.