Wednesday, October 21, 2009

EuroCloud & The Case for a Cloud Computing Trade Association

As many of you know I've been pushing for the creation of a formal Cloud Computing Trade Association for quite sometime, but unfortunately we've lacked both the will of the industry and the money to make this happen. Given the recent announcement of a EuroCloud Cloud Computing association in Europe, the opportunity to do something here in North America or more broadly has re-emerged. In my previous discussions there has been a tremendous amount of interest in the creation of an International Cloud Computing Trade Association, but when it comes down to it, the money to fund such an endeavor wasn't there.

So I again would like to pose the the question if now is the right time to reengage this conversation? Or am I beating a dead horse?

As pointed out by Fred Zappert on the CCIF list early today, more then thirty companies have joined forces to form a new European Cloud Computing Association called EuroCloud. The purpose of this new group is to bring together Euro-based SaaS and cloud computing vendors, enablers, integrators and industry experts to share best practices and promote new business opportunities across the continent.

The creators of EuroCloud have done a great job of outlining the rationale behind why they created the trade org. Similarly these points could apply to an International Cloud Organization.

  • Europe has a fast growing SaaS and Cloud Computing industry, but each country is currently operating separately with few contacts in other European countries.

  • National SaaS vendors are growing and are looking to build European and international relationships through business and technological partnerships.

  • The European Authorities do not currently recognise the European Cloud Computing industry, which is an industry that can help stimulate the economic and technological environment to promote new Cloud Computing industries.

  • Cloud Computing implies application integration into an Application-Oriented Ecosystem. Developing new application partnerships, both european and worldwide represents the next crucial step.

Eurocloud, the pan European Cloud Computing business network, through action at both local and European levels will help to answer these new demands.

EuroCloud Goals
  • To build a pan European network organized in two tiers with a national level (France, Espagna, England, Belgique, etc.) and a European level. The national level focuses on local topics and the European level on European topics,under the EuroCloud brand (or another if appropriate in a national setting). Only companies who have an interest in Cloud Computing and participate in the Cloud ecosystem can be members of the network.

  • Build relationships with the European authorities (Commission and Parliament) to help recognise the Cloud Computing industry as the future of IT in Europe and to promote a stimulating environment for development and growth of the industry.

  • Promote business relationships between members throughout Europe and internationally with counterparts such as SIIA.

  • Promote technological relationships between members throughout Europe and internationally.

Redux: The Case for a Cloud Computing Trade Association (Originally posted April 13th 2009)

In a recent report published by Gartner, the market research firm outlined the tremendous opportunity for global cloud services projecting revenues to increase 21 percent this year alone. According to Gartner cloud-based offerings made $46.4 billion in 2008, a number that is projected to increase to $56.3 billion in 2009 and $150.1 billion by 2013. With this phenomenal growth and revenue is expected in the cloud computing sector, a few in the cloud industry have begun to ask whether it is time to form a cloud computing industry trade association. As many of you know I have been pushing for the creation of such an organization for awhile. I thought I'd briefly layout some of the opportunities I see for the creation of a cloud computing trade association and how it might look.

Generally the idea is for the creation of a formal trade cloud computing association founded and funded by businesses that operate in a our industry. The industry association would engage in various public relations activities such as advertising, education, lobbying and publishing and certification, but its main focus is collaboration between companies.

First of all I'm not advocating for the creation of an organization focused on a particular ideology such as software licensing models or source code development but instead focused on accelerating the adoption of cloud computing by encouraging broader industry collaboration. More simply a formalized "legal" trade association which brings together both small & large companies (startup or enterprise), while also bridging the greater cloud community by including customers & users who all share a stake in the adoption / advancement of cloud centric technologies.

I believe the association should focus on the commonalities we share -- accelerating the adoption of cloud computing through a consensus view of the general opportunities cloud based technology brings to customers. I'm not speaking about defining what cloud computing is so much as defining the problems it solves and opportunities it enables. The things we can actually agree on.

To accomplish this there are a number of joint advocacy and marketing programs which the association may engage in. These could both include web centric activities including industry forums, social networks and online collaboration tools as well "in person" activities such as local user groups, unconferences and trade shows. The association may also be in a position to assist in the creation reference architectures, use cases, and white papers that help illustrate "how" & "why".

Some of the concerns I've heard repeatedly is the potential barriers to entry for participation in this type of association. The last thing this association should be is an inclusive club for a few select technology vendors and insiders. It needs to be available to all and should foster an engagement with both the existing community while also providing a formal / legal umbrella that the larger companies will feel comfortable participating in. I am also cognizant that it takes money to make money, so there needs to be a middle ground with potentially some of the larger vendors subsidizing the involvement of the smaller players and independents members. Simply membership should not be cost prohibitive.

The question of standardization also seems to keep reoccurring and is probably one of the most debated of the topics when discussing the creation of a cloud trade association. It is my opinion that that last thing the world needs is yet another standards body. There are dozens of existing groups and organizations that would be ideal partners. I say lets work with them. I would guess a good portion of the members of such a trade association would also have memberships in existing standards bodies already. I agree that there is no need to reinvent the wheel or boil the ocean. I'd rather see this association partner with the standards world rather then compete with it.

Why now? The fact is we're no longer talking about a hypothetical industry with almost 50 billion in real revenue last year we as an industry have a huge opportunity to collaborate and capitalize on potentially one of the biggest technology shifts we've ever seen. Let's not waste it.

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