Keeping a Close Eye on Cloud Computing Standards

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Is Your Cloud Provider Enterprise-Ready?

Ten questions that IT organizations should be asking cloud computing providers before signing on the dotted line.

By now, most IT organizations have figured out that portability is a little problematic when it comes to cloud computing. That's because not only are various standards for virtual machines, such as the Open Virtualization Format (OVF), still relatively immature, but the standards needed to make cloud computing environments truly interoperable are still a work in progress.

Three of them worth paying close attention to in the years ahead are the Topology and Orchestration Specification for Cloud Applications (TOSCA) that is being developed under the auspices of OASIS; Open Services for Lifecycle Collaboration (OSLC), which is an open specification community dedicated to making it easier to manage the application lifecycle process; and OpenStack, which is an open source project that is creating a lot of de facto standards for operating systems that will be deployed on the cloud.

According to Jamie Thomas, vice president of strategy and development for IBM, these and other cloud-standard efforts should prove critical in the years ahead in terms of creating standards that will promote true interoperability across diverse cloud computing environments. That's important not only from the perspective of avoiding being locked into a particular cloud computing service, but also creating a truly agile IT environment where application workloads can dynamically move back and forth across hybrid cloud computing deployment scenarios.

There's still a long way to go before most of these technologies are routinely available across multiple cloud services. But IT organizations should start asking their cloud service providers about their intents as it relates to these and other cloud standards if for no other reason than to start forcing the conversation in the direction of open cloud standards. After all, it may be in the interest of the cloud service providers to make the cost of switching service providers as high as possible. But it's the responsibility of the IT organization to make sure those costs are as low as possible.