The Cloud is no longer an option. It is a business imperative.  Almost everyone has a Cloud-based account and individuals or enterprises may have more than one Cloud based account. So what happens when you are no longer satisfied with the services provided by your Cloud vendor or you would like to link up your different Clouds or merge the data from the different Clouds into a single Cloud?  Can the data be ported?  That is the question that is troubling everyone today! There is a felt need to break the fetters.

Unfortunately, the definition of portability is varied.  It is often used interchangeably with interoperability. One user may define portability as the ability to move data, applications and virtual servers form one Cloud vendor to another. Another may describe it as the ability to mix and match Cloud services, or blend public and private Clouds, or manage different Cloud services via Application programming interfaces (APIs).  But, portability is all this and more.

Secondly, Cloud standards are still emerging.  The application development and deployment norms adopted by one vendor may be completely different from the norms adopted by another. So how does one integrate computer, network, storage and services from multiple vendors and service providers? Howe does one manage security and business continuity risks across providers?  What does one do to ensure that the lifecycle of each service is managed efficiently and effectively and all Service level agreements are fulfilled? How does one handle ‘governance’ issues, process issues across integrated data centers and service providers? Finally, how can switches are made between Cloud services when adopted standards do not match?

An interesting solution for Cloud portability and interoperability that is evolving is the concept of Cloud brokers.  This is the technology equivalent of the middleman in the marketplace. The Cloud broker federates resources from different Clouds and makes them available to the end user as seemingly amorphous single Cloud.  Cloud users interact only with the Cloud broker’s service even though the actual delivery is made from individual Cloud vendor Clouds.

However, middlemen services can lead to a number of difficulties over time.  Alternate standards are desperately needs. A number of organizations are being formed to examine Cloud services and evolve common standards that will enable portability between services such as the Cloud security alliance, Distributed Management Task Force, the European Telecommunications Standards Institute, National Institute of Standards and Open Grid Forum to name a few.

The straining to break the fetter is visible. The how and when is in the womb of the future!