Yesterday we announced that Stratus is in the process of delivering a proof of concept (PoC) for the European Telecommunication Standards Institute (ETSI) – you can read the press release here. This is a pretty big deal in the telco and NFV world, but I think ETSI PoCs like this have a much more horizontal impact than you might think.

Naturally we and our sponsors are excited, and see a major opportunity for our solutions for telco operators but in this post,  I’m going to address the big picture as to why ETSI (and in some ways by extension OP-NFV) are very important to anyone interested in clouds.

  1. ETSI and OP-NFV are user led – This is a very important distinction in ecosystems. And before people misconstrue what I am saying, let me clear this up. I believe most ecosystems in IT have a user element and often even user members and contributors. But to be user led is different. Let me give an example – the OpenStack Summit is about to kick off in the next couple of weeks and while the effort, progress and enthusiasm are all great, frankly, it’s taking too long to get to maturity. I believe there is a direct correlation between the progress of OpenStack and the fact the foundation that governs it is almost 100% vendor led. Vendors are incented to monetize the output of OpenStack and that leads to a broadly scoped solution and inevitably lower standards for enterprise readiness (otherwise what would the vendors sell to the users)? A user led community is better equipped to drive interoperability standards and prioritize real world adoption over who claims what revenues.
  2. Telco’s care less about compute and more about networking – This one is BIG. Technically, the computing aspects of cloud are pretty worked out, but outside of the mega public cloud guys, the networking parts are not as mature yet. This is coming along really quickly, but ETSI and OP-NFV are going to push very hard on the industry to get it done well, and to support the most demanding use cases. By extension, these innovations and learnings will trickle down into industries where networking may not have to be carrier grade.
  3. Solid standards are the key to adoption – One of the myths of clouds is that any one organization will build one cloud and/or manage multiple clouds with one orchestrator. That’s just fiction. There never has been one tool to solve any problem and the notion that one tool can do everything this time around is silly.  At the end of the day the management of however many clouds you have will be a more layered approach. There may be one master console, but different underlying services or users will automate and drive the cloud in different ways. The layering of management services is interesting and different because it enables more flexibility. In fact Cisco’s Intercloud offering has a good view on this. But, for that approach to work good interoperability standards are mandatory. ETSI gets this and sees it as a gap. I’m hoping to see more ETSI POCs to focus on this area so at least 1 or 2 verticals can standardize and everyone can move forward.

Truthfully, until you have good inter/op standards and a set of users being open about what they really need, no technology crosses over from early adoption to mainstream use. It’s not to belittle what’s been done so far. In fact it’s a reflection that good things have been done and now cloud technology is viable enough for users and user groups to invest in helping take it to the next level. Which is good for everyone.

Exciting times ahead.

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