State the Obvious: We Need Cloud Standards


In the name of things that are rather obvious, Booz & Company released a paper on, The Standardization Environment for Cloud Computing.”  It points out the need for cloud computing standards.  “Resolving the situation will require a concerted movement on the part of cloud service providers and business customers alike to promote the technological, management, and regulatory standards needed to bring order to the cloud environment.”

The trouble with these kinds of requests is that they are rather obvious.  Second, the requests are coming from organizations that are a bit naive.  Consider our history with standards, and the difficult path to get them in place.  There is much more that should be thought through as part of this process.

Those who consume cloud computing technology, typically enterprises, clearly desire cloud computing standards.  Anything that would insure application and data portability is a good thing, as the report points out.  It reduces risks and costs.

However, cloud providers don’t have much of an incentive to move toward standards, despite how they publically support them.  This is due to the fact that they are incentivized to be unique, and thus perhaps more valuable than their close competition.  If they are the same, the value diminishes.

Even with the efforts around standard cloud computing open source code distributions, such as OpenStack and CloudStack, those who are in the market selling implementations will find they will need to add many of their own proprietary extensions to define their value in the marketplace.  Or, perhaps fill in missing pieces from the core open source code base.

The end result?  While a few standards will emerge, typically around problems such as security and management, the idea that we’ll have common platforms that will insure portability of code and data is science fiction at the moment.  Sorry if I burst any bubbles.


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