One of the critiques of the Cloud is that there are no comprehensive Cloud computing standards.  As Cloud services proliferate, heavy weight players are vying with each other to distinguish their service from their competitors; and this is causing quickly catapulting the Cloud into a state where “standards” are non-existent. This makes the Cloud tricky to use, while interoperability remains a distant dream; painting security, encryption and data privacy with a big question mark.

So, what are we doing about it? How are we going to solve the problem? Obviously, the problem will be solved as we establish standards and create opportunities for interoperability. The first step is to recognize and tabulate the nature, scope and extent of the problem.

It should be remembered that Cloud computing is just a method of delivering applications, hardware, security and other services to the end user.  The methodology is still evolving and architectures are being redefined almost every day. The issues that are current today may not even exist in the future as service vendors realize the potential of interoperable services and jump into the fray with innovative solutions.

The National Institute of Standards and Technology have tabulated and listed out the available standardization protocols for Cloud computing in their Special Publication 800-145 under the title “The NIST definition of Cloud Computing (Draft).” The table identifies standards for different components of Cloud usage. For instance, the standard for virtualization is the “Open Virtualization Format (OVF) for “moving virtual machines from one hosted platform to another”. The standard for Interoperability and Cloud portability is the IEEE working group (P2301 and P2302) “Guide for Cloud Portability and Interoperability Profiles (CPIP) and Standard for InterCloud Interoperability and Federation (SIIF). These two documents establish “the standards for existing and in progress Cloud computing standards” and “characteristics necessary for creating interoperability and federation.”

Cloud computing interfaces would reference the Open Grid Forum’s “Open Cloud Computing Interface (OCCI)” for minimum standards guidance. There is also a tabulation of possible standards for Networking and client interaction with storage.

But, NIST tabulation quoted hers is only an isolated example. There are any number of standardization efforts led by vendors and standardization bodies and that could be confusing. Moreover, there are more standardization protocols proposed for some areas and almost none for others. All this is helping no one!

Perhaps the technology landscape will transform and standards will be established as the Cloud matures or lack of standards is no longer tolerable. There will be hiccups, but levels will be established. For now, end users will have to rely on existing standard definitions and their own judgments while making up their mind on transitioning their data to the Cloud.