Innovation in the Cloud needs open standards

By Mark Skilton, Capgemini

This article is a continuation of a series on standards by Mark Stilton. Read his previous post on “Why standards in information technology are critical.

The forces of innovation are seen in the power of broadband, mass computing power, dynamic new mobile cell devices and tablets, new social networking software and new advanced technologies in fields such as medical scanners, multi-media, education, robotics and electronics. These disruptions are jumps that can make huge leaps in societal quality of life and benefit for all. And with every advance there can be counterproductive and emergent issues that result which may be detrimental to markets, and to personal liberty and safety. There is a continuing debate over standards and policies that may or may not prejudice the legitimate rights of consumers, providers and governments that seek these benefits.

Standards evolve as a means for description and commonality as well as differentiation. Common utility services in the gas, electricity, and water amenities industry are examples that trade and provide services to mass markets. Likewise, in consumer electronics markets and network standards, we see interests in common interface and connector standards to enable consumer and providers to access and gain use of the products and services marketplaces. Without standards in areas that enable trade exchange, markets would be fragmented, limiting potential growth and evolution of new opportunities.

But equally, standards can create challenges to barriers in trade and adoption. Protection of intellectual property, closed technology platforms and protectionist and legislative control policies are consequences that can been seen as building competitive advantages; but equally can be limiting access and competition to existing and new markets.

This is a concern from large multi-national corporations to the plethora of SMBs, and to the individual. It can also be seen as a wider economic, societal and environmental issue, where disproportionate activities and resource consumption can affect green sustainability and intergovernmental and marketplace balance of power and growth.

Mark Skilton, Director, Capgemini, is the Co-Chair of The Open Group Cloud Computing Work Group. He has been involved in advising clients and developing of strategic portfolio services in Cloud Computing and business transformation. His recent contributions include the publication of Return on Investment models on Cloud Computing widely syndicated that achieved 50,000 hits on and in the British Computer Society 2010 Annual Review. His current activities include development of a new Cloud Computing Model standards and best practices on the subject of Cloud Computing impact on Outsourcing and Off-shoring models and contributed to the second edition of the Handbook of Global Outsourcing and Off-shoring published through his involvement with Warwick Business School UK Specialist Masters Degree Program in Information Systems Management.