Could cloud standards drive further adoption in 2011?

Opinion by Dan Raywood

Over the next few weeks I anticipate to be asked and be asking about future trends and likely developments for 2011.

Over the next few weeks I anticipate to be asked and be asking about future trends and likely developments for 2011.

Among the predictions, I expect one that will be prominent is cloud computing, be it for Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), storage or infrastructure cloud services, or even for basic outsourced storage.

Last week I spoke with the chairman of the Cloud Industry Forum (CIF) Andy Burton, who claimed that its consultation showed that the cloud section of the industry ‘needs a credible and certifiable Code of Practice that provides transparency of cloud services such that consumers can have clarity and confidence in their choice of provider'.

That code of practice will be launched in two weeks, but ahead of that 70 firms including BMW, Shell and Marriott Hotels, said that systems which do not work together are holding back the spread of cloud computing. According to a recent BBC News report, the 70 companies have formed the Open Data Centre Alliance to push for unified standards for technology.

Chairman of the alliance, Marvin Wheeler, said that the demands on the IT organisations are coming at such an alarming rate that there are many different solutions being developed today that maybe do not work with each other.

He told BBC News: “We need one voice, one road map, so that companies are able to say to manufacturers here is a clear vision of what they should be developing their product to do.”

The alliance's long-term plan for 2015 is the creation of a federated cloud where common standards will be laid down for those in the hardware and software arena. It also wants to ensure that all devices are interoperable when accessing services via the cloud.

There is no doubt that the collective force of the companies involved could make a mark, but what is likely is that hardware and software companies are already looking to this area as a future development.

Looking at the Open Data Center Alliance, Burton said that he thought it was a very good initiative and that it was absolutely appropriate, as the companies behind it have the ‘commercial clout' to provide guidance to the vendors in the market of hardware and software about driving interoperability standards.

He said: “So I think Object Management Group (OMG) and the Open Data Center Alliance are very good issues; where I think the Cloud Industry Forum goes one step further is that we're obviously championing access to the technology of cloud regardless of the size of the organisation. You can be a small organisation or a large organisation but because the bulk of organisations out there are small-to-medium businesses, they do not have the resources of an enterprise.

“So we absolutely endorse and support the work of the Open Data Center Alliance, but it is focused very much at the enterprise end of the market, whereas we are focused very much on the broad adoption of cloud in the market place, which by nature is focused on the small-to-medium business.”

Ian Moyse, EMEA channel director at Webroot, said: “Anything that helps customers gain valid confidence in the cloud is a good thing, the key though is that it is a credit where credit's due approach. If a standard or certification is open to all-comers then it will not help a customer differentiate between the worth of varying cloud offerings.

“There also needs to be a differentiation between technical standards and certifications such as SAS 70 and ISO and business standards being promoted by the likes of Cloud Industry Forum and EuroCloud. As cloud is growing so fast we are in danger of needing a standard for all the varying and competing standards.”

Perhaps that perspective is the most appropriate, after all what is stopping me from developing a standard or code of practice now and demanding that others follow it? Probably because no one is backing it, but with the right support and voices behind any standard, those it is targeted at may have to listen.


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