Cloud interoperability -- The promise of standards

Simon Elisha
08 Jun 2011
Sponsored article
Whilst the industry is abuzz with talk of “cloud everything”, businesses must make pragmatic, well managed decisions as to how best to support their mission and market activities.
When considering the cloud market space, it is important to view it with a historical perspective of past market and technology transitions. An apt comparison is the containerisation of global cargo. In the early 70’s, the introduction of standardised containers enabled purpose-built ships to more economically transport all manner of cargo, irrespective of type.
This also enabled more efficient and consistent loading/unloading processes and freight forwarding logistics. Customers now have a choice of freight providers, knowing that their cargo can be accommodated regardless of provider.
Contrast this to the nascent cloud market in which a multitude of cloud service providers seek to offer capabilities upon which organisations can host their applications and workloads. These providers offer these capabilities through a number of differing interfaces (APIs) and with varying levels of service quality. An organisation choosing a cloud provider may be concerned with its long-term market viability, consistency of capability or risk of “lock in” once applications are hosted with that supplier.
Clearly a method of interoperability and portability is called for as a mitigating factor. This must encapsulate a number of elements including security, quality of service, control, cost and geo-location. The ultimate business outcome is for an organisation to be able to designate its various systems and applications with classifications as to those requirements or limitations and then let “the cloud” do the rest.
Efforts are underway amongst a host of standards bodies to create methods that enable portability of compute (Distributed Management Task Force, Open Cloud Consortium, Object Management Group, European Telecommunications Standards Institute, Open Grid Forum), security (Cloud Security Alliance), data (Storage Network Industry Association) & identity (Organisation for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards) across service providers, technologies and geographies.


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