Monday, February 6, 2012

Cloud Computing: Will Standards Ensure Compliance?

In 1979, Relational Software, Inc. which became Oracle Corporation at a later stage introduced the first commercially available implementation of SQL. Also, several other vendors such as Ingres (based on Ingres project led by Michael Stonebraker and Eugene Wong at University of California Berkley during late 70s) and Sybase introduced database products with SQL. The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) announced SQL standard (also known as ANSI-SQL) in 1986. The International Standards Organization (ISO) announced another standard (known as ISO-SQL) in 1987.

However, database vendors could not follow any of these standards completely due to various reasons. A prominent reason was that the standards were seemingly ‘guidelines’ with lack of clarity and room for multiple interpretations.  Consequently, the portability of applications or data migration from one database product to the other remained a challenge.  After several years of product evolution, some of the database vendors announced compliance with SQL standards.   However, the portability or migration challenges have not been addressed yet.

The problem with cloud-computing standardization as elaborated by Sixto Ortiz Jr. in his article published in IEEE Computer, July 2011 is significant. Obviously, the lack of standards means limited adoption. This is because of the limitations in comparing and evaluating offerings and hence there is a potential danger of vendor lock-in.

The good news is that last month(Jan 2012) the Open Group has published the first technical standard for the Cloud. This is called SOCCI (Service Oriented Cloud Computing Infrastructure framework) and it outlines the concepts and architectural building blocks necessary to support SOA and Cloud initiatives.

We are going to see new standards related to Cloud Computing over the next five years. Will standards ensure compliance? We need to wait and see!

Useful Links:
  1. NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology) Definition of Cloud Computing:
  2. NIST Cloud Home Page:
  3. Critique on NIST Definition:
  4. The First Cloud Computing Technical Standard:
  5. HP Blog on First Standard:
  6. SOCCI (Service Oriented Cloud Computing Infrastructure framework) Announcement:   
  8. Article on SOCCI:
  9. The Problem with Cloud-Computing Standardization by Sixto Ortiz Jr.:
  10. The Problem with Cloud-Computing Standards, Paul Strassman’s Blog:
  11. Cloud-Computing’s Vendor Lock-In Problem: Why the Industry is Taking a Step Backward?
  12. Perspectives on Cloud-Computing and Standards, Peter Mell, Tim Grance, NIST, Information Technology Laboratory: