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Cloud Computing Standards – is it time?

Cloud Computing Standards – is it time?

In a previous article, Top 5 Cloud Computing Trends, I said that an alignment of standards in cloud computing is necessary, since cloud computing is at a relatively early stage of development and its evolution is moving at a high rate of speed.  There are many organizations developing standards but the risk is fragmentation or diffusion, which instead of strengthening cloud computing, may make everybody more wary.

A high level of trust is needed before any business will move into the cloud.  And this level of trust is based on knowing exactly what the business will get, how it will get it and when.  A trusted set of standards every provider would adhere to would help with this problem and make companies more likely to move to the cloud.

As things stand, we are not lacking standards, the problem is we have too many and not many people know what they are. There are a few worthy efforts:

  • The Green Grid The Green Grid is a non-profit, open industry consortium of end-users, policy-makers, technology providers, facility architects, and utility companies collaborating to improve the resource efficiency of data centers and business computing ecosystems.  Its aim is to create standards for more efficient use of resources.
  • Cloud Security Alliance is a not-for-profit organization with a mission to promote the use of best practices for providing security assurance within Cloud Computing, and to provide education on the uses of Cloud Computing to help secure all other forms of computing.
  • The IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) Standards Association is a leading consensus building organization that nurtures, develops and advances global technologies. This year, the organisation launched an innitiative to develop cloud comuting standards
  • Distributed Management Task Force is an industry groups whose mission is to enable more effective management of millions of IT systems worldwide by bringing the IT industry together to collaborate on the development, validation and promotion of systems management standards. They have created a Cloud Management Working Group to develop a set of standards to improve cloud management interoperability between service providers and their consumers and developers.
  • National Institute of Standards and Technology is a non-regulatory federal agency whose mission is to promote U.S. innovation and industrial competitiveness by advancing measurement science, standards, and technology.  NIST has started a program to develop a set of cloud computing standards, with the first results being already published – NIST Cloud Computing Program.

There are quite a few organizations working on standards – and these are only some of them, the entire list is much longer.  As new “standards” arise instead of making for a stronger industry will we create more problems?

The best way forward would be to start a discussion and get everybody to agree, starting with the most urgent issues.  And I believe the most urgent would be to agree on standardization at platform level, which would allow for greater flexibility if a company wants to move from one cloud provider to the other.

However, a balance needs to be achieved, as over-standardization could be as dangerous for the industry as no standards at all.  Since cloud computing is still in its infancy, defining how things should work in too much detail could result in rigidity and not leaving much room for innovation, without which cloud computing could never evolve.

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