Setting the Cloud Computing Standards Agenda

Michael Vizard

The good news is that there is a lot talk about standards as it relates to cloud computing these days. The bad news is that a lot vendors are talking to a lot of different standards bodies about various standards for cloud computing. While all these standards likely add some value to the overall cloud computing equation, the problem is that the sheer weight of all the proposals is going to extend the amount of time it will take to get to anything that looks like a working set of functional standards for cloud computing.

One of the latest proposals for creating a cloud computing standard has come from Oracle. The company has announced that it has contributed the Oracle Cloud Elemental Resource Model API to the Distributed Management Task Force (DMTF). That API is a actually a subset of an Oracle Cloud Resource Model application programming interface (API) that Oracle has made available to extend its overall management framework for the cloud.

According to Rex Wang, Oracle vice president of product marketing, Oracle chose to work with the DMTF because of the organization's long history of dealing with systems management standards. As venerable as the DMTF is, however, it's only one element of the cloud computing standards equation. There are plenty of formal and ad hoc cloud computing standards floating around these days. The challenge is going to be figuring out a way to craft them into a meaningful set of standards that actually advance the adoption of cloud computing.

This, of course, is an area that the industry has long fallen down on. All too often, we wind up with standards being formally declared long after the market has decided what the standards actually are. The problem with that process is that it tends to take a long time to play out. If we follow the same path when it comes to cloud computing, it will be the middle of the decade before we see the level of standardization required to make cloud computing a mainstream computing model. Case in point is the Oracle proposal, which was generally met by silence from the rest of the IT industry. It's one thing to not want to endorse a rival's proposal, it's quite another to ignore the issue altogether in the name of vendor politics.

Today, the amount of talk about cloud computing far outweighs the actual usage. Vendors, of course, like extended standards conversations because the market leaders want to gain as much market share as possible before having to negotiate standards terms with often bitter rivals.

But maybe, just this once, it might actually be in the interest of vendors across the board to come together quickly on a set of wide-ranging cloud computing standards. Not only would that serve to bolster customer confidence in cloud computing, it would also significantly help to move the discussion to how cloud computing services are going to be actually consumed. And with that consumption, the cloud computing market as whole will start to move past the land of the theoretical in order to become an actual everyday reality.

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