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IEEE Initiates Cloud Portability and Interop Specs

The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers yesterday kicked off a new "cloud computing initiative," with an initial focus on cloud portability and interoperability standardization.

The IEEE's cloud computing initiative kicks off with the approval of two new standards development projects: IEEE P2301, Draft Guide for Cloud Portability and Interoperability Profiles, and IEEE P2302, Draft Standard for Intercloud Interoperability and Federation.

IEEE P2301 will provide profiles of existing and in-progress cloud computing standards in critical areas such as application, portability, management, and interoperability interfaces, as well as file formats and operation conventions. IEEE P2302 defines essential topology, protocols, functionality and governance required for reliable cloud-to-cloud interoperability and federation.

"Many governments, large enterprises and telcos have trouble writing procurable specifications for the cloud," said David Bernstein, chair of the two IEEE working groups and managing director of Cloud Strategy Partners, a consulting firm.

The National Institute of Standards and Technology, as well as government organizations in Europe, are working with universities, industry and government to push cloud standards forward, Bernstein said.

Other industry and trade organizations such as the Cloud Security Alliance, CloudAudit and the Desktop Management Task Force are doing good work. but their efforts are not recognized as standards for government procurement and the specifications lack an international reach, Bernstein said.

With capabilities logically grouped so that it addresses different cloud audiences and personalities, IEEE P2301 will provide an intuitive roadmap for cloud vendors, service providers and other key stakeholders, Bernstein said. The aim is to provide better portability, increased commonality and greater interoperability across the industry.

In essence, P2301 is attempting to achieve what NIST is trying to do with the Standards Acceleration to Jumpstart the Adoption of Cloud Computing (SAJACC) program, where the agency is developing use cases that demonstrate how standards can be applied.

"We're doing what NIST would want us to do," Bernstein said. NIST doesn't want to make standards; they want the standards community to make standards."

"We see this and the work of other standards development organizations as complementary to the National Institute of Standards and Technology's work in cloud computing," said Dawn Leaf, NIST senior executive for cloud computing.

Federal CIO Vivek Kundra asked the agency to assume a technology leadership role in accelerating the secure and effective adoption of cloud computing by U.S. government agencies, she noted.

"More specifically, NIST is focusing on security, interoperability and portability requirements," Leaf said. "The NIST Cloud Computing Standards Roadmap Working Group and the SAJACC Working Group are both making progress in these areas."

NIST officials will give an update on cloud-based standards at the NIST Cloud Computing Forum and Workshop III, which will be held April 7-8 at NIST headquarters in Gaithersburg, Md.

IEEE P2302 targets a specific technology area IEEE found no one is addressing, Bernstein said. Although there has been quite a bit of work done on portability interfaces, cloud-to-cloud interoperability or the inter-cloud still needs to be addressed, he noted.

Cloud-to-cloud interoperability does not focus on one cloud provider calling another. Rather, the focus is on creating interoperability implicitly, much in the same way the telephone system or Internet works, Bernstein said. For example, applying inherit federation protocols such as Signal Systems 7 for the global telephone system, and the Domain Naming System and routing protocols for the Internet, allows those networks to work in a transparent fashion, he noted.

The standard will help build an economy of scale among cloud product and service providers that remains transparent to users and applications, he noted.

The P2302 group will work with open source community and university test beds to create a live embodiment of the global inter-cloud while the working group builds the standard. This is represents a new way of thinking IEEE that reflects the way technology is developed today, Bernstein said, as opposed to the past of trying to get a standard done on a handful of vendors' technology and then hoping it will take off in the marketplace. Now, "we're doing things in parallel," he said.

About the Author

Rutrell Yasin is the senior technology editor of Government Computer News (GCN.com).

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