Industry groups struggle to define cloud terms, standards

Alan Zeichick/Camden Associates

Enterprises want cloud services and cloud connectivity, but it’s hard to shop for services if every vendor uses its own terminology, and if there are no interoperability standard to help define those services.

Two strong advocates for such standards are the MEF and OpenCloud Connect (OCC). The latter is the industry organization behind the OpenCloud Project, and the chair of that project, Sebastien Jobert, is also director of engineering with Iometrix.

“This is the beginning of a cycle, of a migration cycle — certainly not the end of the cycle,” Jobert explained. “Let’s focus on the migration of business-critical application to the cloud, maybe in a context that is not necessarily a greenfield, but where there are legacy applications running for larger enterprises.”

Jobert said OpenCloud Connect has a similar ambition for cloud services, to define a common terminology and define basically trusted, carrier-grade cloud services that will help this migration of business-critical application to the cloud in a technology-agnostic manner. “You can build your cloud service based on OpenStack, open source or other solution if you want — as long as we have a common understanding of the services and that the solution that you deliver as a cloud service provider meets the requirements and is fully understood by the enterprise that is buying the service, that's sufficient to help the enterprise migration.”

Jeff Schmitz, chairman of OpenCloud Connect, built on Jobert’s comments. “OCC has 28 companies, cloud service providers, service providers, traditional service providers, equipment manufacturers,” he said. “and even test manufacturers like Spirent where I work, we’re emulating the traffic  — both legitimate and malicious — that goes over these services.”

Developing standards is quite an undertaking, explained Schmitz, because it encompasses so much. When enterprises try to connect their cloud services globally, they need to talk to service providers, including telcos, data center providers and cloud carriers. On top of that there are thousands of cloud service providers.

So, how do they connect in a standard way? How do they have a fair chance and a fair playing field? The solution, said Schmitz, is to start by defining the services.

“If I’m going to have a cloud service, yes, I need to know the bandwidth and the performance and the other things I need, but I also need to know the security. Depending on the service, I may need different kinds of security and I don’t want to hop-by-hop have to figure this out if I’m trying to create a global connection,” said Schitz. “I want to do that very quickly. We need a common language, a common currency of cloud-based services. The thing we need to worry about is lock-in.”

Arpit Joshipura, VP of strategy for product management and marketing at Dell Networking, expressed concern about the different vantage points of enterprises and service providers. He noted that in the enterprise-centric view or an IT-centric view, the data center is at the heart of everything and there are campuses and remote offices and dozens of carriers as small clouds around the enterprise.

By contrast, to carriers the data center is a really small thing but then they've blown up the rest of the cloud with metro access, carrier Ethernet, edge routing and core routing — completely different mindset, completely different perspective.

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