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Incubator Aims to Cook Up Potential Cloud Standards

A group of heavyweight tech vendors have assembled to put cloud interoperability and security specifications on a fast track to standardization

A group of heavyweight tech vendors have assembled to put cloud interoperability and security specifications on a fast track to standardizationAs enterprises adopt cloud computing, there are growing calls for standards to define and unite this nebulous technology category. In response, the Distributed Management Task Force (DMTF) has announced the Open Cloud Standards Incubator. Though not a standards group, the incubator will generate specifications that can be delivered to an official body to get fully baked.

The incubator aims to tackle three key areas: interoperability between private and public clouds, security, and cloud resource management. Cloud resource management includes the ability to control elements such as memory, CPU, billing issues, and quality of service for applications and infrastructure that run outside the enterprise data center. The incubator boasts an impressive roster of technology heavyweights, including virtualization kingpins VMware, Microsoft and Citrix.

The Open Cloud Standards Incubator carries more weight than the Open Cloud Manifesto, which lays out a series of general principles for the cloud, but lacks the impetus to translate those principles into an operational form. By contrast, the incubator may see its efforts become working standards. In fact, one of its first goals is to extend an existing DMFT virtualization standard to the cloud. That standard, OVF, defines mechanisms for packaging and deploying virtual appliances.

However, for an organization aiming to unite private and public clouds, its present configuration is remarkably light on public cloud providers big or small. In particular, Amazon and Google are noticable in their absence.

"As we move forward, we hope to have more of the cloud service providers participate," says Winston Bumpus, president of the DMTF and Director of Standards Architecture at VMware. "We anticipate that members will reach out to them."

Bumpus says the incubator can fast-track its specifications because it leverages existing resources, such as legal and intellectual property agreements, that would have to be created from scratch by an ad-hoc group attempting to create similar pre-standard specifications.

The incubator has set an ambitious goal of delivering a variety of specifications in just one year, including a cloud taxonomy. "A lot of the difficulty in standards is common terminology," says Bumpus. "We think it's a good exercise to have the discussion so we can go forward on the same page." He says the group may adopt, with adjustments, a taxonomy being developed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology, a U.S. federal standards agency.

Bumpus also notes that while the DMTF sponsors the incubator, the resulting specifications could be submitted to other standards bodies, such as SNIA or the IETF.

As of press time, the current leadership board of the incubator includes AMD, Cisco, Citrix, EMC, HP, IBM, Intel, Microsoft, Novell, Red Hat, Savvis, Sun Microsystems, and VMware.

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