Lack of Standards in the Cloud

Louis Hayner, CSO, Alteva – www.altevatel.com

With cloud computing on the rise, more businesses are considering hosted solutions as a means to drive down their IT costs. However, due to a lack of standards, it makes it difficult for some customers to make the choice to transition to a cloud based technology. The problem arises when companies begin shopping for a solution, but have nothing to compare product A to product B with; making the assessment of the technology difficult due to its lack of standards. Although this may not be that bad because emerging technologies without standards allow us to consider different options before one particular technology is selected as the best in the industry to follow.
Cloud computing standards are just as important as any technology process. One of the things with any newer technology is that as it becomes more clearly defined processes can then be built around that standardization. Many organizations are working to develop cloud computing standards by coming up with benchmarks and reference implementations for cloud-based services such as the NIST, SNIA, The Open Group, CompTIA, Open Data Center Alliance, Open Cloud Consortium, and many others. Organizations like CompTIA are not only looking to build standards around the cloud, but also develop training around cloud communications. Putting third party, non vendor specific certifications in place, will keep certain vendors from being favored over others.
However, cloud computing is not completely without standards. For example, there are multiple VoIP products that are built typically to conform to standards such as MGCP, RTP/RTCP TCP/IP, XML or SIP.
Cloud computing will eventually be standardized across the board, but it will take some time.  People need to first accept and define what cloud communications really is. Many companies claim to offer “cloud” services, that don’t. We’ve run into the same problem with having our industry define what true Unified Communications is, and had a similar issue when VoIP was first implemented. There were a lot of people talking about VoIP, and the technology around it, but the standardizations just weren’t there. That process literally took over a decade and it wasn’t until the middle of the 2000’s that two standards were finally developed – hosted and on premise.
It is critical to build software platforms with high quality and high standard ability and having standards in place will not hinder cloud computing adoption and development, it will enhance it. Until then, there will continue to be a lot of confusion in this industry until processes are developed and an education methodology is deployed. Also, the more people that enter this marketplace, especially companies who don’t offer cloud services that are trying to tap into the cloud computing buzz, will only further confuse and delay the issue. Unless everyone is speaking the same language no one understands.
Cloud Communications Alliance

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