A group has been created with the intention of promoting trust and developing a code-of-conduct to standardise and certify enterprise cloud computing services, under the banner Cloud Industry Forum. It has been established by the Federation Against Software Theft (FAST) and Investors in Software (IiS).
Undoubtedly, cloud computing is one of the hot topics of the moment -- IDC forecasts a five-year annual growth rate of 26%, more than six times that of traditional IT offerings -- but the concept is complex and open to multiple interpretations, with a previously compiled "just right" definition running to three sentences. While enterprises can clearly see the benefits, the lack of commonly accepted standards and certification may well deter more cautious IT managers from fully embracing the nascent technology until it has become more established.
An inaugural Cloud Industry Forum roundtable has already taken place, "to bring together key industry figures to discuss the issues and challenges that surround the development of a Code of Conduct to offer certification for providers". It was said that the consensus opinion is that "organisations need clarity around what the services providers do or don't offer", and that "put simply, organisations seeking to use these services need a straightforward form of certification or 'Code of Conduct' for potential suppliers that will accurately define the services offered and standards of operation and security".
At least part of the challenge faced by the Forum is the diversity of the enabling technologies, products, and services offered under the "cloud computing" banner. With a number of suppliers approaching the cloud from different starting points, it is difficult for enterprises to compare like-with-like, with such benchmarking a vital element of the procurement process.
It was also noted that businesses are aware of the "unknown financial, security or resilience risks" associated with trusting third-parties with mission-critical computing roles.
Cloud industry association created
The Cloud Industry Forum is not the only industry alliance recently established in the cloud computing market, with EuroCloud created during October 2009, although while the former is focused on creating standards and certifications for enterprise services, the latter is focused on growing a cloud ecosystem within the industry.
EuroCloud has grown out of the French ASP Forum, and local groups have already been created in Belgium, Denmark, France, Luxembourg, Spain and the UK. Its intention is to create 20 regional organisations with 500 members by 2014. The aim of the alliance is "to boost cloud development across Europe, while becoming the European platform for business exchange with other continents".