In a validation for the over-hyped and superficial term "Big Data," the Open Data Center Alliance has formed a workgroup that will come up with user requirements for vendors that offer data warehouse and data management solutions.

The Open Data Center Alliance was formed in 2010 as a vehicle by which heads of IT at large companies, including JPMorgan Chase, Deutsche Bank, UBS and National Australia Bank, could help steer the development of new technology by their technology partners. In an interview at the time, founding member Andrew Feig, executive director, technology advisory group, group technology infrastructure services at UBS, said that because of increased business requirements, cost and time pressures and the need for quick scalability, the old way of purchasing data center technology (e.g. buying a server and then having no interaction with the vendor until the next refresh three to five years later), doesn't work anymore.

The old model, Feig said, is neither nimble nor scalable. While vendors are interested in hearing what users have to say during the purchasing process, "once the vendor is in there for three to five years, they can pretty much do what they want," he notes. "I don't want to say they hold us hostage, but they don't have a good motivation to do what we want. We don't want to be locked in to a certain vendor's solution." Cloud computing in particular, he says, just can't work that way.

By coming up with their joint lists of demands, the 70-plus members of the Alliance aim to prevent vendor lock-in and reduce costs.

The alliance's new Data Services Workgroup will document the requirements of enterprise IT groups that manage of large sets of data. It will create usage models for the secure collection, management and analysis of this data. As part of the new charter, the Alliance will work with "big data" industry leaders Cloudera, Hortonworks and MapR Technologies, which have announced membership in the organization, as well as leading data management solutions provider members, including Teradata and SAS.

The Data Services Workgroup's usage models are targeted for release in the second half of 2012. Based on the usage models, workgroup members will develop reference architectures and proofs of concept for independent software vendors and OEM partners to test deployments and establish solutions for the enterprise market. The Alliance will also collaborate with the open source community to drive benchmarking suites.

"With the huge opportunity of big data extending across geographies and industries, the ODCA's work will help drive interoperable standards that enhance big data frameworks to be cloud ready — from manageability to security. This will benefit ODCA's members by accelerating solution delivery," said Denis Curran, head of strategy and innovation at National Australia Bank (NAB), and a member of the ODCA's Steering Committee. "Collaboration with such an impressive group of solutions providers will ensure we help enterprise IT adopt cloud technologies that harness big data to make good business decisions and deliver great customer outcomes."