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Establish Standards for Cloud Computing

Cloud computing is the latest hot trend in the IT world and among technology consulting companies.  To a point where almost every meeting I go on talks about this subject matter and does so in a very misinformed way.  The perception out in the marketplace is that the cloud is cheaper, more reliable, and secure.  That is simply just not the case unless the proper steps and procedures are followed.  When will we see cloud standards?  That is a really great question because the security questions of encryption and penetration capability still have not been addressed.  How reliable is the data in the cloud?

The protocol, data format and program-interface standards for using cloud services are mostly in place, which is why the market has been able to grow so fast. But standards for configuration and management of cloud services are not here yet. The crucial  standards for practices, methods and conceptual architecture are still evolving and we are nowhere close.  Cloud computing will not reach its full potential until the management and architectural standards are fully developed and stable. Until these standards are formalized and agreed upon there will be pitfalls and mishaps, which cannot take place.

The main premise of Cloud protocol is  TCP/IP.  The cloud usually uses established standard Web and Web Service data formats and protocols. When it comes to configuration and management, the lack of effective, widely accepted standards is beginning to be felt and I have seen the negative results.  There are several agencies and organizations working on cloud configuration and management standards, including the Distributed Management Task Force (www.dmtf.org), the Open Grid Forum (www.ogf.org), and the Storage Networking Industry Association (www.snia.org).

Currently there are, as of yet, no widely accepted frameworks to assist the integration of cloud services into enterprise architectures.   An area of concern is the possibility of changing cloud suppliers. You should have an exit strategy before finding a provider and signing a cloud contract. There’s no point in insisting that you own the data and can remove it from the provider’s systems at any time if you have nowhere else to store the data, and no other systems to support your business.

When selecting an enterprise cloud computing provider, its architecture should have the following:

• the cloud services form a stable, reliable component of the architecture for the long term;
• they are integrated with each other and with the IT systems operated by the enterprise; and
• they support the business operations effectively and efficiently.

Other groups that are looking to establish industry standards include the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology (http://csrc.nist.gov), the Object Management Group (www.omg.org) and the Organization for Advancement of Structured Information Systems (www.oasis-open.org).