Monday, May 11, 2009

How I stopped a 3 ton truck with one bare hand

Bike riding in the United States is seen as a recreational activity. While it is very fun and a great form of exercise, bicycles are transportation vehicles. As vehicles, they are subject to all rules and regulations when operated on streets. Most drivers understand this and treat cyclists as slow moving vehicles when they come across them on roadways. For example, I was riding my bike recently in the city of Albany and came to a busy intersection where I needed to take a left. Safely, I moved from the right most part of the right hand lane to the middle of left hand lane and signaled my left hand turn. As there was traffic moving in the opposite direction, I was forced to stop and wait. Behind me I heard the air brakes of a large truck squeal and hiss. Glancing back, I saw only the grill (which was at least a foot taller than I stood) of this tall truck. I could barely hear the other traffic over its diesel roar. It felt pretty powerful to make a hand gesture that was able to freeze a vehicle that outweighed me by at least 30 times. I used a standard protocol for signaling a turn recognized by all road worthy drivers. My small hand became equal to any size vehicle on the road for a brief moment. This is the power of standards.

Supported by the European Union, the Reservoir Project seeks to create a uniform SLA for utility infrastructure. It will be very interesting to watch how the Reservoir Project will intersect with the Open Cloud Manifesto. While the Reservoir Project will focus on Infrastructure and the Open Cloud Manifesto will focus on service, these two depend upon one another and will have to cooperate in order for both to achieve their objectives. These are two of the major overall standards that are emerging. Individual layer standards are becoming defacto as their mass adaptation pushes others aside. Until a governing body (like IEEE or W3) takes control of the approval of these standards, standards will be decided by the marketplace.

Why do IT people love standards? When a governing body decides on standards, the outlook for such standards reaches into the future. Many proprietary protocols are not future proof and will never play nicely with protocols from other vendors. The marketplace sometimes picks those protocols because they come from an established vendor or they are first to market. Standard protocols are the only ones guaranteed to be agnostic and long-lasting. Standards give portability and options. The best thing about cloud computing is how quick and easy you can jump from your existing on premises solution to a cloud based one. The worst part (for service providers) is how quick and easy it is to jump from that vendor to another.

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