Cloud Standards Dominate Interop Discussion


Cloud standards, or the lack thereof, dominated a good deal of the cloud discussion at Interop Las Vegas 2011 this week, with many vendors and industry experts calling for some kind of standardization in the wild west that is cloud computing.

While cloud standards were a lightening rod long before Interop, industry watchers at the show said the time is now to start establishing some sort of standards around cloud computing to boost adoption and increase user confidence in the cloud. The push for standards is to break down the walls of proprietary clouds and help cloud buyers and users avoid being tied to one vendor via lock-in.

Currently, the cloud computing market lacks true standards. Several groups have stepped forward to start working on standards, and the IEEE has put its hat in the cloud standards ring and has begun developing cloud computing standards.

"You absolutely do need to have standards," said Vinton Cerf, a founder of the Internet and Google vice president and chief Internet evangelist during a roundtable discussion after his Interop keynote presentation.

During his presentation, Cerf compared cloud computing today to e-mail in the 1980s, when e-mail systems were siloed and not connected to the Web. That ended in 1988, MCI granted permission to connect its electronic mail system to the Internet, breaking "the policy log jam." From there, other mail providers followed, and within a year most e-mail systems were interconnected, Cerf said.

"Today cloud is like e-mail in 1980s. It's not interconnected and now you can't interface between clouds," Cerf said during his keynote. "That will change as the same pressures that got to e-mail get to the cloud."

Cerf said cloud standards will come. Google is leading the way with its "data liberation" policy that dictates if you put data in the cloud, you can take it out whenever you want.

For the cloud to succeed, Cerf said he sees standards emerging around cloud portability and the ability to leverage clouds from more than one provider and "run processes in more than one cloud at the same time."

He said standards must address: "How do we move data back and forth between clouds?"

And Cerf wasn't the only one banging the cloud standards drum at Interop this week.

Simon Crosby, CTO of Citrix's Datacenter and Cloud Division, said Citrix is working with Rackspace's OpenStack, an open-source cloud computing project, which he said will pave the way for cloud computing standards. OpenStack comprises dozens of contributing companies writing code and contributing to a cloud computing stack. Along with fostering an open source cloud computing environment, OpenStack strives to create a standard for cloud computing.

"We're trying to standardize the cloud," Crosby said during a roundtable discussion at Interop. He said Citrix is working with OpenStack to see where it goes. Still, Crosby said, it's immature to define standards until a unanimous approach is reached.

"There's a long way to go, but standardization will emerge," Crosby said.

Next: The Cloud Can't Be Proprietary, Standards Are Necessary