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Should Cloud Computing Have Standards? If So, What Should They Be?

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Referencing a recent blog by David Linthicum, Cloud Computing Standards are a Double Edged Sword, and a podcast with Tarak Modi, The Coming Cloud Computing Standards, do you think Cloud Computing standards are necessary?  If so, what should they be?

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  • The most important standards in the cloud computing arena will possibly begin with provisioning, deployment and management/monitoring. These are all currently proprietary to the provider and what would create an ecosystem of "intelligent" tools would be standardization of these API's.

    Amazon, in my view will be the de facto standard given that their API's are the best evolved.

  • Standards are an important part of the growing up process; that is, the maturity process. They are culturally specific means to describe common values and behaviors, which enables individuals to function independently within the context of a larger community. As such, most standards tend to reduce cost while providing a manufacturing basis for wider product/service availability.

    Think about how standards have impacted the adoption of the automobile. In 1905, the new formed Society of Automotive Engineers recognized the need for automotive standardization. During those early days, automotive manufactures fashioned cars from a wide variety of parts in any way that made sense at the time. Fast forward to 2010 in the US, most of us know that to drive a car we get into the left front side of the vehicle, the go peddle is in the right side of the floor and the stop peddle in on the left, and the big round wheel in the center makes the car turn left and right. As a result of this industry standardization, cars are cheeper, safer, and generally more available than would have otherwise been the case without standardization.

    Cloud computing should see parallel standardization benefits for the user and developer community. Having a common way to describe and invoke cloud services, for example, would ultimately reduce solution costs through best of breed selection. Standardization would reduce the cost of user adoption, training, and support. At the same time, cloud security standards would increase overall safety by providing a common means of assessing different solutions.

    If cloud computing is to mature and survive, then standards are a natural means to these ends. History dictates that need for such constraints, even when ones business is suck in the cloud. It is not a question of if standards are needs, but only when. The sooner we recognize the need, the soon our community can grow into an iconic solution, similar to that of the automobile.

  • Another double-edged sword (which I just realized upon review was in the title of David's post). On the one hand, as Dr. Jerry states, standardization accelerates adoption and maturity. On the other hand, if we try to standardize too much too soon, we run the risk of slowing innovation in the cloud. The interesting thing to me in all of this since the term "cloud computing" first starting getting kicked around is that in many areas, standards get set fairly quickly by the marketplace based on community preferences and feedback...and although the standards aren't necessarily enforced by a governing body, the community ends up shaping and policing these standards. The other interesting thing that I've noticed is that when the dinosaurs (Microsoft, et al) attempt to join forces to dictate standards, the community seems to just laugh it off and keep moving forward. The cloud world is just moving too fast right now; by the time we would document and ratify standards, they would be obsolete. While it may be tough for some to conceptualize the use of cloud technologies in the context of applicability to their enterprise, at the end of the day I think we need to just keep our hands off and let things flesh out on their own because everything is just going to continue to change on a daily, if not hourly, basis for the next few years. It is going to be tons of fun to be a part of.

  • As a consumer of cloud resources to run a business SaaS solution, the standards I like the most already exist: a standard operating system (Linux) and a standard database (MySQL). Beyond that, I can pick my preferred vendor based on their style of delivery - something incredibly elastic but also requiring a bit of additional software work, or something less flexible but requiring no changes on top of familiar VM technology. Personally, I avoid cloud vendors making something proprietary out of what is really fairly standard software running on a mass of hardware.

    The only real standard I'd like to see added, which I think would help us differentiate the cloud vendors is a common way of measuring the new 'compute unit', the processing power of the cloud server being rented. Without that, comparing what you are getting between vendors, or whether your vendor is maintaining computing power over time, is virtually impossible.

    Just my view, as I'm not big enough to need the top end automated provisioning / deployment, or functionality down in the weeds of running a cloud.

    Phil Ayres
    http://www.consected.com

  • Today’s cloud computing environment is relatively complex – so complex in fact, that it has motivated Gartner’s Global IT Council for Cloud Services to identify the six key rights (and one responsibility) to serve as a best-practices guideline for enterprises looking to deploy cloud-based solutions. The ultimate goal: to help cloud providers and their customers establish successful business relationships. You might find this interesting to read : http://bimehq.com/cloud-computing/6-rights-1-responsibility/

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