Standards in the cloud space have been a long time coming and is one of the game changers for future adoption. The hope is that they will help reduce the risk of vendor and product lock-in, improve interoperability and allow innovation to be focused on service differentiators instead of commodity features. Reaching a consensus on the definition of cloud computing took almost a decade, so the fact that there is not a single standard shouldn’t be a surprise.
Organizations like the Open Group and Open Cloud Consortium are defining standardize for some areas of cloud computing (mostly on the lowest layers of cloud). OpenStack and CloudStack, are currently examples of de facto standards. Although OpenStack has over 150 supporters, including HP, it is not a shoe in as “the” cloud-computing standard, but it does seem to dominate.
For cloud providers, the presence of multiple standards means they will need to select which standards to support or implement more than one standard. This adds to costs, so hopefully a standards consolidation effort is in the industry’s future.
From a customer perspective, using standards as part of a selection process is important, since the business could run the risk of tying their computing to a solution that cannot be supported elsewhere or relying on automation and monitoring tools that cannot be replaced effectively.
Even if a cloud provider meets all an organization’s needs today, migration to another vendor will likely happen at some point in the future. This can easily be more expensive and time consuming than an initial roll out. As I have said to numerous people in the paste the megabytes of data on the cloud today can quickly turn into petabytes in the future. This can be a pivot point for the private vs. public cloud decision for a larger enterprise.
The movement to cloud for most organizations for some percentage of their work is inevitable. The long-term lifecycle perspective is not always thought about when reaching an agreement today, but it needs to be. Standards play a role.