Steering Group
Frequently Asked Questions 
  • About the Open Data Center Alliance

What is the Open Data Center Alliance?

The Open Data Center Alliance is an independent  IT consortium comprised of leading global organizations from a wide array of industries who have come together to provide a unified voice for IT requirements for cloud computing adoption and to turn the requirements into solutions through collaboration with Solutions Provider members and industry standards bodies. The mission of the Open Data Center Alliance is to:

  • Identify the requirements of data center solutions that meet the challenges facing data centers today and tomorrow,
  • Define Usage Models that support emerging data center and cloud infrastructure requirements in an open, industry-standard and multi-vendor fashion, and
  • Influence industry innovation focus with a collective membership commitment to the Alliance's Usage Models to guide purchasing decisions of data center solutions.

What companies are members of the Open Data Center Alliance?

The Alliance has over 300 total members, led by a Steering Group comprised of 12 global IT leaders (BMW; Capgemini; China Life; China Unicom Group; Deutsche Bank; JPMorgan Chase; Lockheed Martin; Marriott International, Inc.; National Australia Bank; Terremark; UBS; and The Walt Disney Company). A complete membership roster is available at

Any company building cloud or data center infrastructure is encouraged to apply for membership.

How is the Alliance different from other user-led consortiums?

We're unaware of any user group that has published requirements representing over 300 IT organizations' – with collective annual IT investment over $100 billion – input in such a short time span while also driving critical collaborations to ensure industry deliver solutions matching requirements.

What is the role of Intel Corporation in the Open Data Center Alliance?

Intel Corporation serves as Technical Advisor to the Alliance at the direction of the Board of Directors. In this role, Intel representatives help facilitate the output of workgroup and Board of Directors groups.

  • Open Data Center Alliance Usage Models

What is an Open Data Center Alliance Usage Model?

The eight Open Data Center Usage Models address the most critical requirements facing IT today in the adoption of cloud computing as well as the Open Data Center Vision for Cloud Computing. The documents are user-driven cloud Usage Models and data center requirements.

What is the purpose of these Usage Models?

Alliance publications document a unified customer voice on requirements for widespread adoption of cloud and next-generation data center solutions. Open Data Center Usage Models prioritize and document the most pressing requirements customers face today, reflect input from over 300 IT leaders, and are expected to help shape industry solution delivery and accelerate adoption of cloud services based on open, industry-standard, and multi-vendor solutions.

Who created these documents?

The documents were created by Alliance members. Specifically, Alliance Workgroups – infrastructure, management, regulation & ecosystem, security and services – led by a Technical Coordination Committee to prioritize Usage Model targets based on broad member input.

What are the published Usage Models?

Usage Models include: Cloud Provider Security Assurance, Security Monitoring, Service Catalog, Standard Units of Measurement, Virtualization Interoperability, I/O Control, Usage Regulation, and Carbon Footprint.

  •  Cloud Provider Security Assurance & Security Monitoring address IT's largest challenge for cloud adoption by proposing standard security levels for cloud services & compliance.
  • Service Catalog & Standard Units of Measure enable feature, price and performance comparisons across private and public clouds for increased transparency and easier IT decision making.
  • VM Interoperability & I/O Control addresses the technical foundation required for federated cloud interoperability & improved quality of service.
  • Regulation & Carbon Footprint outline expectations for cloud services to ensure compliance to government and corporate reporting requirements and outlines a means for services to be CO2 aware for subscribers.

What has been the response to the Usage Models?

The Alliance stated in June, 2011 that it expected initial industry response from solutions providers and service providers within 6 months of publication. In September, initial solution provider member response was exhibited in a series of Usage Model proof of concept demonstrations at the Intel Developer Forum event. Demonstrations from members including Cisco, Citrix, Dell, EMC, Joulex, Parallels, Red Hat and VMware highlighted Usage Models including Carbon Footprint, IO Control, Security Monitoring, Service Catalog, and VM Interoperability. We expect this early industry delivery will help shape product delivery meeting Usage Model requirements in the months ahead and signals a broad industry focus on addressing Alliance Usage Models.

What does the Provider Security Assurance Usage Model address?

Security is arguably the biggest challenge customers face today as they have no way to understand or specify the specific security requirements of a particular cloud vendor or if cloud service security levels violate regulatory and internal security policies. The Usage Model documents requirements for a granular specification of security capabilities delivered by service providers. It accomplishes this through a tiered model for differentiation of service delivery enabling competitive offerings which allow for feature and cost differentiation. This allows enterprises a standard way of determining what security capability is being offered.

What is the need for a Security Monitoring Usage Model?

Once you have established a standard framework for security capabilities, you also need to be able to determine that service providers are meeting the levels promised. The Usage Model describes the need for specific hooks required to enable real-time monitoring of cloud service security, defines what needs to be monitored, and documents a need to be able to deliver monitoring to both customers and third party certification agents.

Why was the Service Catalog Usage Model prioritized?

The service catalog addresses today's fundamental issue on how to measure what services are being delivered and what attributes exist for the service. Today, there is no standard, apples-to-apples comparison in the marketplace, making provider selection both timely and difficult. The Service Catalog defines the need for specific definitions on what is listed in a catalog framework as well as the standard attribute characteristics.

What is a Standard Units of Measurement Usage Model?

Today's metrics are very granular, but end customers view cloud services at a much more aggregate level. The gap today is measuring services based on performance, availability, security, reliability (QoS) etc., with metrics designed for cloud computing models.The Usage Model defines what framework and attributes candidates for metrics should have.

What are the issues addressed in the VM Interoperability Usage Model?

Users would like to select any cloud vendor based on cost and performance/capability characteristics. They would also like to link their private clouds to public clouds – either for bursting of specific workloads or for true federation of cloud services. Today every cloud provider chooses a particular implementation of virtualization whether it be one or multiple hypervisors. While today OVF (Open Virtual Format) provides migration of workloads at a container level allowing for migration of VMs from heterogeneous hypervisors, there is no way to consistently manage VMs in a heterogeneous hypervisor environment. The Usage Model specifies which areas associated with VM interoperability need to be resolved: creation of new management interfaces that are consistent across all hypervisors to work with OVF to enable true interoperability of hypervisors.

What issue drove the prioritization of the I/O Control Usage Model?

Today's virtualization solutions offer no clear method for establishing I/O QoS levels for individual virtual machines allowing no standard mechanism to manage IT SLAs. Today, this results in the potential for unbalanced I/O across VMs and risking instances of single apps or users consuming full platform bandwidth. The net result is often an artificial lowering of VMs per physical server based on I/O bottlenecks causing inefficient use of physical systems. There is a key need to control bandwidth allocated to each app and a quota of bytes applied to each VM. The Alliance's I/O Control Usage Model outlines requirements for hardware and software mechanism delivery to allow data center managers to specify exact bandwidth per VM and total amount of network I/O per user based on policies.

Why is a regulatory framework needed?

Not all cloud adoption issues are technology related. Many are related to government requirements for IT as well as policies established by vendors that impede the adoption of cloud. A holistic approach to use of the cloud weighing both technology attributes and policy are equally important, and a unified view of regulations will help create more efficient engagement with regulatory agencies, potentially saving enterprises significant investment in the unilateral engagement pursued today. The Alliance's regulation document providesacompilation of government agencies and regulatory bodies from around the globe that are engaged in topics associated with cloud computing.

Why is a Carbon Footprint Usage Model important?

Many corporations are providing carbon reporting of IT as part overall sustainability and CSR initiatives as well as emerging government requirements. IT must be able to measure cloud service carbon footprint as part of these larger corporate reporting requirements. In addition, many IT organizations are prioritizing lower carbon emissions through efficiency initiatives, and carbon footprint reporting would assist identification of green service providers.The Usage Model addresses this by defining a requirement of workload execution level carbon reporting as part of customer reporting to enterprise.

  • Open Data Center Alliance Membership

How do I become a member?

Member applications are available on the Alliance website:

What are the levels of membership for the Open Data Center Alliance?

Any company building cloud or data center infrastructure is encouraged to apply for membership in the Alliance. The Alliance currently has four membership classes: Adopter, Solution Provider, Contributor and Steering Group.

What is the cost of participation in the Open Data Center Alliance?

The Alliance has been formed as a self-funding organization. The Alliance implemented membership dues in April 2011 for new members. Adopter membership dues are $1,000 per year, Solution Provider dues are $3,000 per year and Contributor membership dues are $5,000 per year. Companies who applied for membership before April 1, 2011 will not be charged dues for their first two years of membership.

What is an Adopter member?

Adopter member companies have joined the Open Data Center Alliance to signal their commitment to the Alliance mission, participate in Roadmap review, and to voice their commitment to the Alliance's vendor-agnostic Usage Model Roadmap to guide their data center planning and purchasing decisions.

What is a Solution Provider member?

This class of membership is specifically designed for I.T. solution and services providers, and was created to enable solution providers to share insight and comments on the Alliance's Usage Model Roadmap prior to public distribution. Solutions Providers are committed to using the Alliance's Data Center Usage Models as a tool to guide their product planning.

What is a Contributor member?

To further the objectives of the Open Data Center Alliance, the Board of Directors has chartered a special class of Contributor membership for companies who are interested in deeper engagement of Roadmap definition through participation in Alliance Technical Workgroups. Adopters can apply for Contributor membership on the password-protected "members" area of the Alliance website. Initial interest in Contributor membership in the Alliance has been strong, and the Board of Directors approved 32 Contributors in January 2011.

What are the benefits of joining the Alliance?

Adopter and Solution Provider member benefits include:

  • Opportunity to review and comment on Usage Models prior to public distribution
  • Access to members-only events, such as Technical Workgroup webcasts
  • Networking with other members through Alliance discussion forums
  • Demonstration of your leadership in Alliance marketing efforts

Contributor member benefits include all of the above, plus the opportunity to shape the Alliance's Usage Model Roadmap through Technical Workgroup engagement.

Does the industry have a role in the Alliance?

The industry absolutely has a role. We founded the organization as a data center manager-focused organization, and our workgroups will be comprised of senior architects from Board and Contributor companies. Our engagement with the industry is driven by our workgroups and will engage the industry in vendor-neutral dialog on the development of the Usage Models.

Does the Alliance create standards for cloud?

While the Alliance is committed to open, industry standard solutions as a foundation for it's vision, the organization focuses on documentation of the specific requirements for acceleration of cloud computing.  To further this end, the Alliance collaborates with select industry standards groups to identify current standards that help drive the industry towards open, industry standard delivery of solutions based on Alliance requirements as well as address new standards that will need to be developed towards this goal. Initial collaborations have been initiated with CSA, DMTF, OASIS and TM Forum's ECLC group.  In addition, the Alliance announced a strategic collaboration with the Open Compute Project, an organization spearheaded by Facebook to drive technical specifications for energy efficient data center infrastructure and open, scalable systems management development.  More details about each of these collaborations will be made available in the months ahead.

What workgroups have been formed?

The Alliance Board of Directors has established five initial Technical Workgroups in the areas of Infrastructure, Management, Regulation & Ecosystem, Security and Services.

Regionally-focused workgroups have also been formed, such as the China member workgroup which will focus on addressing the priorities and goals in data center and cloud innovation in the China region. This workgroup is also expected to accelerate local language collaboration to ensure the Alliance's global voice is being captured.

Back To Top