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Industry Group Hopes Economic Clout Can Force Cloud Standards

3085791395 15651dc206 mWhat happens when 280 large organizations representing $100 billion a year in IT spending band together to force cloud vendors to adhere to a set of established standards for doing business? Chances the smart ones stand up and take notice and that's what the Open Center Data Alliance (OCDA) is hoping to do.
Information Week reported on the group recently, saying that five main companies --  Lockheed Martin, China Life, Deutsche Bank, CapGemini, the Australia National Bank, and over 250 other similarly high powered organizations -- had joined forces in the hopes of forcing cloud vendors to adopt a series of standards that make it easier for member companies to work with various cloud companies to find a common way to evaluate requests for proposals (RFP) and requests for information (RFI).
Andrew R. Hickey writing for CRN  wrote the group wanted to define what it saw as the most urgent requirements for companies buying services from cloud vendors:
"The goal is to enable federation, agility and efficiency across cloud computing while identifying specific innovations in secure federation, automation, common management and policy and solution transparency to spur the widespread adoption of cloud services," Hickey wrote.

It's a worthy goal and IT Pros everywhere should be shouting a hearty Huzzah! over this move because it could be the kick in the pants that the cloud industry needs that establishes a starting point for discussion for everyone involved.

The group has outlined 8 broad service areas--Secure Monitoring, Secure Provider Assurance, IO Control, VM Interoperability, Regulatory Framework, Carbon Footprint, Service Catalogue and Standard Unit of Measure for IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service)--with their requirements for each one. The idea is to give members a set of clear, consistent guidelines on which to base their purchase decisions. If everyone holds the vendors' feet to the fire, the theory goes, then cloud vendors will have no choice but to comply.
But trying to get more than 250 companies, all of course operating with their own requirements and needs, to adhere to these requirements as written will be no easy task. Still, it's a good starting point and the member companies should be applauded for setting up some sort of cloud purchasing baseline for both vendor and customer purposes.
As the Information Week article pointed out however, the cloud vendors were conspicuously missing from OCDA's member rolls and that could limit the group's effectiveness in the long run. Still, given the pure economic clout of these organizations, whether they like it or not, it would seem to be in cloud vendor's best interest to at least acknowledge the group's goals and work with them to come up with a set of options that can work for everyone.

For now, at the very least we have starting point for discussion of these issues. That in itself is a positive move, but it can't stop there if it is to be successful. Member companies have to stay engaged and companies have to work closely with the cloud vendors to establish reachable goals while keeping pressure on them to provide what they feel they need to operate successfully in the cloud.

Photo by Shoes on Wires on Flickr. Used under Creative Commons License.
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