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What WORA can tell us about the future of the cloud

Sun Microsystems' slogan, "Write once, run anywhere," was hot stuff in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Today, a new innovation wave is forming, "Deploy once, scale anywhere," or DOSA. So why should we care about WORA now? By understanding the evolution of Java and the emergence of WORA, we may discover insights into how the various cloud computing paradigms will evolve in the coming years.

Enterprise architect with multiple large Java

As an enterprise architect with multiple large Java and cloud deployments, I have been intimately involved in both innovation waves. Based on this experience, I can see the parallels and I believe that the various cloud platforms will ultimately provide the equivalent of the Java virtual machine and create infrastructure independence that will enable new architectures.

As cloud computing platforms start to mature and the seeds of interoperability begin to sprout, the days of DOSA are not far away. The Eucalyptus-AWS API compatibility deal is one way this could be accomplished. Another might be the ubiquitous availability of OpenStack-enabled cloud services from such providers as HP, RackSpace and AT&T. VMWare's recent acquisition of DynamicOps as well points in this direction. These are just some of the developments that are happening every day. DOSA looks even nearer with PaaS technologies, just as CloudFoundry and OpenShift, providing elastic application containers the same way that Java promised ubiquitous availability of Java virtual machines 15 years ago. Anyway you look at it, key industry players are starting to get ready.

More nuanced DOSA message

My bet is that cloud computing's chaotic landscape will evolve into a more nuanced DOSA message. Enterprise IT will have the ability to shrink and surge based on open and flexible infrastructure platforms. These infrastructure platforms will largely consist of commodity hardware and smart software that ensure interoperability across service providers.

Just as organizations in the late ’90s struggled with how to build new applications for the Internet and Web era, companies today are looking for new ways to build Web-scale systems. And such as Java was seen as the new way of building applications that could be deployed on any operating system, the then and there generation of cloud apps can be dynamically deployed on any cloud platform. Driven by the explosion of mobile devices and resource rich apps, companies are now moving away from expensive specialized servers to a more commodity based scale-out model. A logical extension of these scale-out models is the ability to easily pick and choose infrastructure service providers and thereby reduce vendor lock-in.

The WORA phenomenon spawned a thirst for standardization and led to the emergence of the Java ecosystem. Similarly, cloud computing has catalyzed a massive effort to modernize and standardize IT infrastructure technologies. This will ultimately enable interoperability between internal and external cloud services, including the whole suite of systems and software - security, applications, hardware, virtualization software, monitoring and management.

More information: Gigaom