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04.15.2010 - On the Road to Cloud Computing Interoperability

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On the Road to Cloud Computing Interoperability

B-winstonbumpusPosted by Winston Bumpus
Director of Standards Architecture, VMware

In a recent interview Vint Cerf, often referred to as “the father of the internet” was quoted as saying, "We don’t have any inter-cloud standards. The current cloud situation is similar to the lack of communication and familiarity among computer networks in 1973." We at VMware agree that inter-cloud standards are critical to achieve the next level of interoperability and provide choices to our customers. We have been working over the past year with other companies in the industry to create and expand these important standards to fill this void.

About a year ago I began posting about VMware’s activities working with a number of technology companies to launch the Open Cloud Standards Incubator which was formed as a committee within the Distributed Management Task Force (DMTF). The work of the Open Cloud Standards Incubator was to focus on ways to facilitate operations between private clouds within enterprises and other private, public, or hybrid clouds by improving the interoperability between platforms through open cloud resource management standards. The group also aimed to develop specifications to enable cloud service portability and provide management consistency across cloud and enterprise platforms.

Almost a year later cloud computing has become more mainstream with new products and companies emerging almost daily. Many companies joined in the important work within the DMTF and have made resource and technical contributions to its work.  These contributions include not only VMware’s vCloud API specification, but submissions by other organizations including HP, Fujitsu and Telefónica. The group also released an Interoperable Clouds Whitepaper laying out the existing challenges and needed inter-cloud standards. The group’s public charter calls for it to complete its initial work soon which will begin the next phase of work to extend existing specifications and to develop new specifications where needed.

One of the standards that have emerged as a key technology for Cloud Computing Interoperability is the DMTF’s Open Virtualization Format (OVF).   What started out as a way to package virtual appliances has become an interoperable way to define and export workloads between clouds, which are either public or private clouds. OVF has emerged as a common packaging format and is supported by most of the open cloud APIs that exist today including VMware’s vCloud API.

Another important development this year is the launch of new standards activities in existing and emerging standards organizations. One of the key organizations that VMware joined is the Cloud Security Alliance. This organization is focused on defining best practices as it relates to the implementation of existing security standards and technologies to the cloud computing paradigm.  Other organizations have launched work and have developed specifications and programs for standardization including the Storage Networking Industry Association (SNIA) work in cloud storage standards. In fact the industry has created a portal to track all of the work going on in cloud standards along with cloud standards related events.

We will continue to lead and participate in these important industry standards activities. We believe working with our partners and the rest of the industry to develop common interoperable standards is essential to enable customer choice and for the industry to achieve the full potential of cloud computing.

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