In recent years, cloud computing enthusiasts and detractors alike have called for more sweeping standards to dictate best practices in cloud environments. And even though no single rule has emerged as the clear favor, one industry observer recently questioned whether the push for standards has already gone too far.
Patrick Thibodeau of IT news provider Computerworld likened the pursuit of cloud standards to a NASCAR race, in which everyone's on the same track, but they're all in different cars.
Among the organizations looking to standardize certain practices in the cloud are the Cloud Standard Customer Council, the Open Data Center Alliance and the Institute of Electronics and Electrical Engineers. And while the intentions of each organization may be admirable, Thibodeau noted that the path is getting a little crowded.
Taking the metaphor one step further, at the moment, those pushing for standards seem to be driving in circles.
"It's clear that the business community wants cloud standards," Thibodeau wrote. "What is less clear is whether multiple efforts will make the standards push more effective or result in conflicting approaches that lead to a wreck."
Indeed, it seems apparent that both cloud customers and vendors support the notion of a cloud standard. As cloud security and data ownership continue to hinder some from deploying cloud solutions, the advantage of an overarching standard – or several – could encourage more to seek the cloud.
The issue is determining how to get there. Some have suggested that governments step in and regulate the cloud. Others argue that government control may limit the effectiveness of the cloud and stunt its growth.
One solution that may find favor is establishing a body similar to the Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council. The PCI council is an open forum consisting of several leaders in the credit card industry. The goal of the council is to develop and educate companies about the best practices of managing credit card information.
When applied to the cloud, this approach could prove beneficial to all those involved. Rather than relying on a single entity to dictate and monitor cloud practices, leaders from several companies would be invited to participate, reducing the chances of favoritism or bias.
However cloud standards are eventually introduced, the need to act quickly is apparent. According to a June 2011 study sponsored by chipmaker Advanced Micro Devices, 37 percent of businesses worldwide are already using the cloud in some form, and adoption is only expected to increase for the foreseeable future.