I Want My Open State Data

I Want My Open State Data

During the winter of 2019, ONUG established a collaborative with Cigna, FedEx and Raytheon Technologies as its founding members. Shortly after, JPMC, Pfizer, Kaiser Permanente, UBS, PNC and others joined. The collaborative created a working group to focus on Automated Cloud Governance.

Why focus on governance?

Governance gets in the way of all digital transformation projects and is usually the root cause of failure, thanks to a lack of control of information and data. Governance is manual today, and in the large enterprise, you need to automate cloud governance to be digital.

The ONUG Collaborative calls for a new social compact or industry contract between buyers and sellers organized around Open State Data.

What is Open State Data?

When you consume an application on your smartphone or laptop, that application depends on a range of products and services to deliver its value. We call this an application dependency map, but simply, it’s the IT supply chain into the large enterprise.

An application may depend upon Wi-Fi, switches, routers, load balancers, firewalls, internet service providers, service providers, cloud providers, servers, storage and myriad other software infrastructure, including hypervisors, containers and more.

All of these machines communicate their state: Am I on or off? Is my CPU or memory utilization too high? Is a link up or down? There could be thousands of state metrics.  

The industry has been organized such that every machine (both hardware and software) that a vendor supplies to the enterprise has its own way to define and communicate its state. They may also have their own way of changing, or configuring, its state. There is no consistent form of machine state data.

As a result, large enterprises have staffed IT into silos to understand the language of a vendor’s machine, resulting in operational bloat. These management systems do not communicate with one another, nor do they conform to a standard way of expressing the same state metrics. Put simply, the current state of the industry has forced enterprises into manual governance and operational bloat.

Is this a bad thing? 

Yes, it is. The current industry model has forced buyers into overspending on operational staff and limiting their ability to enter and compete in the digital economy.

Automating cloud governance will accelerate cloud consumption and compliance at the speed and scale of DevOps. It will also reconfigure the IT supply chain into the digital enterprise and enable one of the largest IT organizational transformations to occur in over three decades.

How Open State Data works

What if the vendors that supplied an application’s dependency map agreed to open up their state data and use standard definitions or meanings of common states? This does not change or alter a vendor’s products or services. Vendors continue to innovate and differentiate via their core value, and supporting Open State Data enables a vendor to be a strategic partner with its enterprise customers.


If we have Open State Data, then enterprises can code to state data and automate governance and policy across an application’s dependency map. An IT supplier then becomes a strategic partner integrated into the governance of its customer’s core digital business.   

Open State Data also is the basis for AI overlays that automate operations to emerge. AI is like wine: to make great wine, you need great grapes. To deliver effective and useful AI, you need good data.

“AI is like wine: to make great wine, you need great grapes. To deliver effective and useful AI, you need good data.”

-Nick Lippis

Open State Data will provide a picture of the past and present state of an application and its dependencies, which AI algorithms can consume and correlate to understand root causality of problems. This reduces mean time to detect and repair issues, which increases uptime.

As a result, there would be no need for silos of operational teams. IT organizations can focus on application development. DevOps would transform into DevAIOps.

Open State Data is a force of change on how IT suppliers deliver their products to the large enterprise, as well as how large enterprises automate governance such that they may accelerate their digital journeys and transform their IT operations.

The time is now

Over the past few months, many things have changed. One key change is behavior and attitude toward digital transformation from executive management. There are no longer any naysayers. Corporations realize that being digital is critical to survival and not a new way to sell existing products and services. This enlightenment has shifted influence toward buyers of IT products and services. Enterprises need to use the expanded influence they now have to advocate to all vendors to support Open State Data.

Open State Data may emerge as an open source project; a consortium of vendors and startups that take unstructured machine data and normalize it into structured data; a standards organization project; or something else. IT business leaders need to encourage and advocate for all of these options because the road to digital transformation and corporate survival is through Open State Data so that cloud governance can be automated.

At ONUG Digital Live, May 6-7, 2020, the ONUG Collaborative starts an industry conversation on a new social compact and industry contract that starts with Open State Data. Hope to see you there ­– it’s virtual and free.