Featured on Wired Insights on January 8, 2013.

You’d think that by now, the term cloud computing started to be used in 2008, we’d all know what it’s characteristic are and how it’s consumed and delivered. This however does not seem to be the case, even though there are some great recaps out there. Just read the Computerworld UK post CIOs frustrated by ‘fake’ cloud services. But this is not unique to cloud alone, also think of SOA for instance which was never really understood by the public at large.

In my opinion this has to do with the fact that some of the large IT companies “define their own standards” and interpretations of information technology (IT). Marketing teams at companies sometimes use different terms and abbreviations to adds a false sense of uniqueness or “interpret” well known terms and abbreviations freely to suggest false similarities. This makes it more difficult for IT consumers to compare individual solutions on facts and capabilities.

Not to point any fingers, but Oracle’s Larry Ellison called cloud “complete gibberish” until May this year but now seems to cloud washing (re-branding a traditional solution to a cloud) many of their products. Another example on using standards is for instance the W3 standard for HTML coding, most browser vendors used the standards defined by W3C, however Microsoft decided to include ActiveX and other non-standard coding to get “some competitive edge”.

I don’t think this will change in the short run, unfortunately, though I think consumerization of IT might force large IT providers to adhere to common terminology and standards. I hope so, because one of the great values of cloud computing should be the flexibility to compose cloud services and migrate workloads between multiple cloud providers. But this will only work when there is some sort of common ground and interface standard between cloud services and providers.

Thankfully there are more and more standards emerging for cloud computing, which most of the larger IT providers are adopting. So consumers, get educated! Not with IT provider — marketing infused — collateral, but using knowledge of well-renowned standardization bodies. Good examples for this are NIST, The Open Group (TOG), Cloud Standards Customer Council (CSCC), The Cloud Computing Use Case Discussion Group, Open Stack and TOSCA.

For this blog post I will cover the non-technical standards, except NIST which I covered in blog post How NIST helps to demystify Cloud Computing. Technical standards like Open Stack and TOSCA will be covered in a future, separate blog post.

The Open Group

The Open Group — known for several IT standards like TOGAF, Archimate and UNIX — has several collaborations for cloud computing with some really valuable assets to share.

Cloud Standards Customer Council (CSCC)

The CSCC currently has three interesting deliverables and several use cases for specific industries. The three must-read deliverables are:

  • The CSCC Practical Guide to Cloud Computing – The Practical Guide to Cloud Computing consists of a set of guidelines, and strategies to help enterprise information technology (IT) and business decision makers in all major activities related to implementing cloud solutions.
  • The CSCC Practical Guide to Cloud Service Level Agreements – The Guide highlights the critical elements of a service level agreement (SLA) for cloud computing and provides guidance on what to expect and what to be aware of when negotiating an SLA.
  • Security for Cloud Computing: 10 Steps to Ensure Success – The Security for Cloud Computing white paper provides a practical reference to help enterprise information technology (IT) and business decision makers as they analyze and consider the security implications of cloud computing on their business.

Cloud Computing Use Case Discussion Group

The Cloud Computing Use Cases group has two really good whitepapers on cloud computing and its impact on a business. The goal of this group is to bring together cloud consumers and cloud vendors to define common use cases for cloud computing. The use cases demonstrate the performance and economic benefits of cloud computing, and are based on the needs of the widest possible range of consumers.

  • Cloud Computing Use Cases – The latest version of this whitepaper focuses on four areas: How consumers use the cloud, how applications are built in the cloud, security in the cloud and service Level Agreements
  • Moving to the Cloud – This second whitepaper discusses three areas of focus when considering to move assets to the cloud: 1. Classify Your Information Assets, 2. Determine Your Requirements and Risks and 3. Calculate Your Return on Investment (ROI)


  1. http://twitter.com/Cloud_Council/status/289734945964969985

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