Gonna Carve Me a (Hybrid) Mountain

Steven Hill
Steven Hill

Summary Bullets:

  • The hybrid cloud could benefit from a strong, open-source model upon which to base future development.
  • Projects of this magnitude depend on a clear vision that can be shared across large groups.

For the last few weeks I’ve been deeply involved in research regarding open-source cloud, and in so doing I ran across a quote from Jim Whitehurst of Red Hat that compared the challenges of OpenStack to those faced during the creation of the Interstate-90, way back in 1956. I know many of us weren’t around then, but his point was well taken, it was a massive undertaking that ultimately benefited the entire nation and it led me to considering other projects that could serve as a simile to the creation of an open cloud framework. The Hoover dam came to mind, as did the space program, but just as I was pondering this a TV show came on about the carving of Mount Rushmore. BINGO! GENIUS!

I took a few minutes to give it a think, and then decided to spring it on a poor, unsuspecting vendor the very next day to see how it played. My pitch went like this: “You know…it seems to me that the open-source cloud is a lot like the Mount Rushmore of technology. After a lot of thought, planning and endless disagreements about the design of the project, Mount Rushmore took nearly 14 years and hundreds of craftsmen to become the engineering miracle it is today. Along the way its principal sculptor, Gutzon Borglum, had to deal with almost continuous dissent from presidents, Congress and the public over who to carve on the mountain, PLUS the project suffered almost continuous budget problems due to the depression that occurred during its creation.” (Oooo…simply RIFE with similarities, don’t you think?)

Moreover, they were forced to contend with problems that couldn’t possibly be anticipated before construction started – for example, they were forced to dynamite poor Thomas Jefferson’s original face off the mountain due to issues with the underlying rock infrastructure. The project itself also required a combination of old and new technologies that included some that were developed on the fly in order to resolve issues never encountered before. BUT (and here’s my killer point), throughout the entire project the sculptor ALWAYS had a current and well-defined plaster model upon which to base the actual carving. And that well-defined model is what I believed to be missing in the development of a truly open cloud platform. TaaDaa… <Polite Silence>

Well ok, fine…so it’s not that simple to compare the challenges of building the next generation, open hybrid cloud to a construction project nearly a hundred years old. But in all fairness my goal was to illustrate how the persistence of a team with a vision could sculpt practically anything, be it a physical, or even a technical mountain. So Eric, thank you very much for the patience you showed while I laid some hubris on you. And as a side note I have to say that he was such a good listener I didn’t have the heart to tell him that Mount Rushmore remains unfinished to this day.


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