Structure 2010: Where Is Cloud Computing Headed?


The final panel of GigaOM’s Structure 2010 brought together five people who run a diverse groups of clouds — from Yahoo’s self-contained infrastructure that runs all its sites to The Planet, which offers cloud services for small businesses.

Are standards on the way for the cloud? Our panelists agreed that in some cases standards could be helpful. For instance, it would be great to compare performance data, security policies and compliance records. And many customers would benefit from being able to combine services that easily work together.

In Yahoo’s case, it could potentially be attractive to acquire companies whose infrastructure is already compatible with what Yahoo (s yhoo) runs, said Shelton Shugar, the company’s SVP of cloud computing. But at the same time, Shugar wondered if it wasn’t too early in the life of cloud computing to start setting standards.

But it wasn’t too early, it seemed, for the panelists to agree that cloud services will eventually be commoditized as a utility.

Val Bercovici, NetApp’s (s NTAP) cloud czar, said that history has already shown that developers are the power brokers, not infrastructure providers. If platforms can pick the right level of abstraction, just as Apple’s (s aapl) App Store and Microsoft (s msft) Windows have done, they will win.

Joseph Crawford, executive director of IT solutions for Verizon Business (s VZ,) agreed. He said easy virtual or physical machine setup is already a commodity — now it’s about things like empowering an IT group to provide value to their business.

Still, said Denoid Tucker, VP of technology for StrataScale, “There will always be businesses that aren’t big enough to get into the infrastructure play.”

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