Interoperability Key in Cloud Computing Standards

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The International Telecommunication Union will take on the complex job of creating standards for cloud computing.

A new ITU-T Focus Group on Cloud Computing has been formed to enable a global cloud computing ecosystem where interoperability facilitates secure information exchange across platforms. The group will take a global view of standards activity in the field and will define a future path for greatest efficiency, creating new standards where necessary while also taking into account the work of others and proposing them for international standardization.

Cloud computing speeds and streamlines application deployment without upfront capital costs for servers and storage. For this reason, many enterprises, governments and network/service providers are now considering adopting cloud computing to provide more efficient and cost effective network services.

Malcolm Johnson, Director of ITU’s Telecommunication Standardization Bureau, said: “Cloud is an exciting area of ICTs where there are a lot of protocols to be designed and standards to be adopted that will allow people to best manage their digital assets. Our new Focus Group aims to provide some much needed clarity in the area.”

Cloud computing deployments are being announced on an almost daily basis. But interoperability, say experts, is a problem.

“Cloud computing is the future of ICTs,” said Camille Mendler, vice president of Research at Yankee Group. “It's urgent to address interoperability issues which could stall global diffusion of new services. Collaboration between private and public sectors is required, and ITU is ideally suited to facilitate productive dialogue.”

ITU-T study groups were invited to accelerate their work on cloud at the fourth World Telecommunication Policy Forum and at an ITU-hosted meeting of CTOs, both in 2009. The CTOs highlighted network capabilities as a particular area of concern, where increased services and applications using cloud computing may result in the need for new levels of flexibility in networks to accommodate unforeseen and elastic demands.

“The Focus Group will investigate requirements for standardization in cloud computing and suggest future study paths for ITU,” said Vladimir Belenkovich, chairman of the ITU focus group on Cloud Computing. “Specifically, we will identify potential impacts in standards development in other fields such as NGN, transport layer technologies, ICTs and climate change, and media coding.”

A first brief exploratory phase will determine standardization requirements and suggest how these may be addressed within ITU study groups. Work will then quickly begin on developing the standards necessary to support the global rollout of fully interoperable cloud computing solutions.

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