Thursday, January 22, 2009

Forget Cloud Standards, First Think Cloud Consensus

Over the last few days I've had several conversations about the opportunity cloud interoperability brings to the industry. It seems somewhere the concept of interoperability and standardization became intertwined. Let me be clear that I believe the two are somewhat different yet equally important problems. Before we can ever hope to create any sort of functional cloud standards we need to first build industry consensus.

Let's revisit what interoperability actually means, the wikipedia defines it as "a property referring to the ability of diverse systems and organizations to work together (inter-operate)" and a standard as "a document that establishes uniform engineering or technical specifications, criteria, methods, processes, or practices." You can't have a standard without organizations working together.

In twitter dialog with Simon Wardley (Services Manager for Canonical / Ubuntu Linux) yesterday he stated his "view that standards will be chosen by the market not committee, however a body which promotes potential standards is viable." I couldn't agree more.

The last thing we need are some new ridged set of cloud standards that are obsolete before the digital ink is even dry. How can we hope to create "standards" before we even fully understand where the true cloud computing opportunities are. What I am advocating for cloud interoperability (in the short term) is an industry consensus or a place (formal or informal) where cloud computing stakeholders are able to come together to collaborate and foster a common vision. This was a motivating factor when we create the first CloudCamp's and interoperability events last year. Maybe this takes the form of an industry trade group or alliance or something else I don't know. What I do know is the more we cooperate as well as collaborate, the better off we'll be as an industry.

One option may be to create some common definitions (taxonomy). This could be the first step in at least defining what cloud computing represents, not as a whole but in the sum of its parts. Trying to define cloud computing in its entirety would be like trying to define the Internet which is in itself an analogy. The great thing about the Internet is it means different things to different people.

As Wardley also pointed out "The best first thing the CCIF can do is come up with a standard taxonomy for the cloud which sticks."

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