The history of enterprise IT is defined by a patchwork of standards that emerged over time, most of which were declared after one vendor or another had rendered any debate moot by seizing the most market share.
While that capitalistic approach to standards might be celebrated as an instance of the free market at work, that approach means it takes a long time for the standards process to play out. To jumpstart the standards process in the age of the cloud, IBM and other vendors have formed The Cloud Standards Customer Council, which IT professionals can apply to join here.
According to Dirk Nicol, IBM program director for emerging technology, the basic mission of the council is not to create standards, but rather encourage their development by highlighting areas of cloud computing where a standard is required to advance the adoption of cloud computing. To that end, the council, which is managed by The Object Management Group, is recruiting IT professionals from across the spectrum to participate on various committees that are now being formed to identify critical standards. Those working groups thus far include:
Standards are obviously a critical element in terms of not only promoting adoption, but also making sure that customers retain control over their cloud computing environments, fostering interoperability. Right now, there are so many proprietary application programming interfaces (APIs) floating around the cloud that it's relatively easy for customers to find themselves inadvertently locked into a particular vendor.
The good news is that adoption of all forms of cloud computing is moving along a pretty rapid rate. The bad news is that all it would take is a few bad vendor experiences to bring that progress to a screeching halt.
The Cloud Standards Customer Council is not intended to be some uber-organization that will dictate the formation of any one standard. But it is an umbrella group that provides an opportunity for IT organizations to make their voices heard. In that context, participation in this body by professionals working within IT departments, versus those working for vendors, is critical because while the history of IT is marked by a fragmented approach to standards that did as much to hinder as it did to help the development of enterprise IT, the rise of cloud computing creates a unique opportunity to not allow the sins of the past to be repeated all over again.