Can the Open Group Become the RightScale of Cloud Standards?

the-open-groupThe proliferation of standards bodies and other groups focusing on cloud computing makes it difficult to believe any one organization can deliver truly valuable, business-level information. In many cases, their scopes are too specialized. The work might be great, but it needs to make its way to users in a useful manner. The Open Group, with its new enterprise-focused Cloud Work Group, is working to make this happen.

The Cloud Work Group’s mission is not to develop any standards of its own, but to produce advisory reports by taking into account numerous sources. In fact, says Open Group Vice President of Collaboration Services Dave Lounsbury, the Open Group is predisposed to incorporate rather than recreate, because reinventing the wheel wastes the time and money of all involved. While the Cloud Work Group is new, the Open Group has been working on cloud computing for about a year and already has liaised with the Open Cloud Manifesto group, the Cloud Security Alliance (CSA), and the Cloud Computing Interoperability Forum, among others.

I think of the Open Group’s Cloud Work Group as the RightScale of the standards community. It will take the work of other groups, add in its own expertise, and put it all together in the most useful package possible. The big difference is that while RightScale has built a multi-provider management interface, it cannot offer seamless interaction among platforms until providers make it possible; the Cloud Work Group can integrate everything within its scope now and deliver real-world guidance.

The Cloud Work Group’s interactions with other consortia will involve more than just talking. Lounsbury says the Cloud Work Group already has had cross-briefings with the CSA, and he expects co-authored work products are inevitable. The Open Group has been party to jointly produced documents in the past and, says Lounsbury, “Given the multi-headed nature of the cloud beast, I expect we’ll take advantage of that again.” The Cloud Work Group’s collaborative nature also could make it an intermediary between different consortia and help keep them moving in the same direction, thus avoiding inter-organizational conflicts that leave users wondering which standards to adopt.

This approach is noteworthy because, like the cloud-computing landscape with platforms, the cloud standards arena is littered with many distinct organizations. Apart from the aforementioned groups, other major initiatives include the Open Grid Forum’s Open Cloud Computing Interface Working Group and the Distributed Management Task Force’s Open Cloud Standards Incubator, and smaller groups are always forming. It would be nearly impossible for a company to monitor all the work being done by these organizations, analyze it, and apply it to its cloud strategy. However, because the Cloud Work Group consists of members spanning the vendor and user communities, it can keep track of this work and bring relevant standards and best practices from across the board to bear on specific business scenarios, or possibly on a cloud-computing architectural taxonomy.