A group of companies have formed an alliance to encourage cloud computing by making the data center radically different than it is today.

The Open Data Center Alliance (ODCA) consists of about 70 companies that want data centers to be more efficient, simpler and open. The goal is to develop industry standards developed by a cross section of vendors with usage models that cover the details of running what they see as the modern data center.

It's always a question when alliances come upon the scene. They tend to come and go, often existing to serve as marketing platforms for vendors more than anything else.

But ODCA may be a different story. It's in large part driven by customers who want to adopt cloud computing but find obstructions and often considerable expense when exploring the potential options for deployment.

"It's a very complex environment and it is getting more complex, not less," said Andrew Feig, executive director, UBS, in the video created for the launch, "We cannot continue managing the environment in the current way. We have to do something radically different."

UBS is one of the members of the alliance. Other members include Lockheed Martin, Marriott International and BMW. Intel is a technical advisor to the initiative. Most data centers are powered by its server technology. More technology companies are expected to join the effort.

Doing something radically different is not exactly the kind of language we associate with traditional, large enterprise customers.

It shows the potential significance of the alliance. The companies participating have some of the largest enterprise infrastructures in the world. These companies realize that the cloud is essential to their business but to realize the potential the data center will have to operate under new sets of requirements.