Cloud computing: where is the standard?

There is now a need for a universal standard for cloud computing for service providers to abide by. While several organizations are promoting and jockeying with their “standard” strategy, there is still no common standard.

In the meantime standard organizations such as the Open Data Center Alliance (ODCA), Distributed Management Task Force (DTMF), and Standard Consortium Storage and Networking Standard Group (SNIA), with US and European standards organizations, are all engaged in discussing how to establish cloud computing standards.  There seems to be no end in sight to the confusion that reigns in the cloud computing arena, let alone a common platform.

The end goal here is to achieve true interoperability and allow customers to move seamlessly from one service provider to another, thus avoiding any “vendor lock-in” situations, something that is now prevalent in the industry.

The Desktop Management Task Force (DTMF) has made the Open Virtualization Format available to provide an interoperability of some sort to move across virtual environments as part of the effort to address migrating from one environment to another.

It is no longer a question of a nonexistent cloud standard but more of a standard proprietary to every vendor.

One reason a vendor might embrace open cloud standards is to assist organizations moving to the cloud in switching from the current model to one where the customer is able to move workloads across vendors in a cost effective manner. At the other side of the spectrum a service provider might not see it the best of strategies to facilitate such a move.

IBM, along with other organizations, joined hands with the Topology and Orchestration Specification for Cloud Applications (TOSCA) to provide a platform for an open interoperability set of specifications.

In the absence of industry agreed upon cloud standards, one  area to be on the lookout  for as a prospective cloud service user is the cloud service provider’s ability to expose APIs, how well documented these are and interoperable they might be bearing in mind that development of these APIs is still in the pipeline.

From an operational perspective it is also worth noting the Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) best practices, while these are not part of a standard in every regard, they provide a solid framework.  For a standard that enforces your governance model you might look at ISO20000 which allows you to address your governance requirements and operational processes thus providing an integrated management system.

While there is still no common standard for cloud computing, prior to embarking on the cloud journey, prospective cloud computing users would be advised to have a close look at the potential providers and scrutinize their capabilities, accountability and liability, their operational and architectural model and how their offering addresses your specifications requirements with the hope that an standard will emerge.

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Maamar Ferkoun

About Maamar Ferkoun

Maamar is part of the Worldwide Technical and Service Delivery team covering the Cloud solutions portfolio, currently covering the Asia Pacific region. Maamar has been with IBM for the last 15 years across different teams and project in the Asia Pacific region. His area of expertise covers best practices such as ITIL, Cobit and ISO20000 standard as well as well as a range of Cloud offerings. He has co-authored three IBM Redbooks. Maamar is currently living in Singapore and Hong Kong. You can follow him on Twitter at @MaAsiaPacific.
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