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Evolution of Cloud Standards

Cloud technology and related business models are evolving at very fast pace. A very large market size is driving new entrants with their offerings. But lack of cloud standards is making cloud market fragmented.

Let us dig deep and try to find answers to a few questions on cloud standards.

Why do we need cloud standards?

Enterprises want to avoid vendor lock-in and are looking at the flexibility to interoperate applications between different clouds. This essentially means that enterprises would like application architectures created for one cloud which would work on another seamlessly. The enterprises are also interested in taking different services from different cloud providers and would like to implement private cloud such that it works seamlessly with all the public clouds.

How standards evolve ?

Who are driving the cloud standards and with what objective?

Cloud Standards are in the early stages of evolution. Different open standard groups / platforms are working with an objective towards higher efficiency and interoperability. The other major objectives are to minimize vendor lock-in, standard SLAs on availability and existing infrastructure integration.

Some of the open standard groups working on it are:

  • Object Management Group (OMG): An international, open membership, not-for-profit computer industry standards consortium. OMG Task Forces develop enterprise integration standards for a wide range of technologies.
  • Cloud Security Alliance: Is a member driven organization with a mission to use best practices for providing security assurance within Cloud Computing, and provide education on the uses of Cloud Computing.
  • Cloud Standards Customer Council: Is an end user advocacy group dedicated to accelerating cloud’s successful adoption, and drilling down into the standards, security and interoperability issues.
  • Open Data Center Alliance: Is an independent organization that gives stakeholders a voice in shaping the future of cloud computing
  • Open Compute Foundation: An open-source data center and hardware design community.
  • Open Cloud Consortium: A non-profit venture which provides cloud computing resources to support scientific community.
  • Storage Networking Industry Association: A non-profit association of producers and consumers of storage networking products.
  • OpenStack: An open source cloud platform driven by community.
  • CloudStack: Apache incubated open source cloud platform
  • Open Grid Forum (OGF): OGF is an open community committed to driving the rapid evolution and adoption of applied distributed computing.
  • Distributed Management Task Force : An industry organization that develops, maintains and promotes standards for systems management in enterprise IT environments.
  • Open Network Foundation: A foundation with mission to create the most relevant software defined network standards.

What role governments need to play and what actions different governments are taking to shape the cloud standards?

Driving forces in Evolution of Cloud Standards

Considering the cloud business model and it impact to society, different governments are adopting cloud related standards in the policy framework.

For example European Union (EU) is working on the policy framework with an objective to adopt cloud service. Some of the policy framework actions are to

  • Common data protection and privacy protection regulation across the EU
  • Data jurisdiction regulation providing guidelines across EU.
  • Promoting common standards and interoperability of cloud systems.
  • Establishing policy for accountability and liability for security breaches
  • Certifications for cloud service vendors on their security and data protection management.

Similarly US government agencies are working with the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to create a policy framework.

But is this enough? There is a clear need of action at global level where all government agencies work closely with global cloud service providers and industry bodies to layout a policy framework.

What role is played by the service providers and how is cloud ecosystem building?

Cloud service providers have the largest  say in the shaping up the cloud standards. There is a clear commercial interest for the cloud service providers to influence the standards and build the ecosystem around it.

Rackspace is one of the top influencers in building cloud ecosystem. Rackspace is supporting OpenStack (open source cloud platform) and working towards creating an ecosystem around this. Around 150 larger enterprises like IBM, HP RedHat, NASA and others are supporting this ecosystem.

Similarly CloudStack (now incubated by Apache Foundation) is support by Citrix. CloudStack is an open source platform and Apache has recently released  new 4.0.0 version of CloudStack with CloudBridge, an Amazon Web Services (AWS) API extension, so that users can ‘turn on’ Amazon S3 and EC2 support if they want.

This shows the importance and influence of Amazon Web Services in the cloud market.

Amazon Web Services is enjoying the first mover advantage. Although not a direct competitor to platforms as they do not offer underlying technology as standalone products to the customer, but an ecosystem is building around it. Eucalyptus Platform has adopted Amazon API standards for interoperability with Amazon Web Services. Amazon has shown support to the Eucalyptus Platform as a strategic move to support private cloud.

We at BlazeClan believe Amazon Web Service (AWS) is in a leadership position to influence standards and build ecosystem. AWS has global cloud operations and has understanding of impact of current government policies on cloud business model. AWS’s participation in building ecosystem through their API support and helping governments shape the policy can make AWS as the de facto standard.

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