IEEE aims to drive cloud computing standards

The standards organization is beginning with cloud interoperability issues with hopes to minimize cloud fragmentation

Standards organization IEEE has decided to get involved in cloud computing, starting with two development projects related to cloud interoperability, it said on Monday.

The current state of cloud computing is comparable to the nascent Internet, according to IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers). Cloud computing is primed for explosive growth, but "without a flexible, common framework for interoperability, innovation could become stifled, leaving [users] with a siloed ecosystem," the organization warns in a statement.

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As part of its cloud push, IEEE has started two working groups, P2301 and P2302, which will look at a wide variety of areas. The P2301 Work Group will work on standardizing cloud portability and management, using a number of file formats and interfaces. While the P2302 Work Group will focus on cloud-to-cloud interoperability and federation. It will, for example, work on standardizing gateways that can handle data exchange between clouds.

In general, standardization in the cloud computing area is an extremely good thing, because it will allow enterprises to use cloud computing more effectively and with more confidence, David Bradshaw, research manager of European SaaS and cloud services at IDC.

However, since cloud computing is still in its infancy, there is also a risk that defining how things should work in detail could have an opposite effect and stifle innovation, according to Bradshaw.

A plethora of organizations are working to standardize cloud computing. Even the European Commission has gotten involved.

Bradshaw said the hope is that they all have the good sense to work together and avoid different islands of standards. The platform level is the area where the need for standardization is most urgent, allowing companies to move workloads from one cloud vendor to another, he said.

The IEEE's Cloud Computing Initiative is chaired by EMC's Steve Diamond and the working groups are chaired by David Bernstein, managing director at the consultancy firm Cloud Strategy Partners.

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