Standards for Seamless Cloud Computing

Working groups focus on portability and interoperability

7 June 2012

As more companies, government agencies, and consumers adopt cloud technologies, they’re encountering turbulence along the way. The problems include multiple file formats, applications that fail to operate with each other, and the inability to move data from one cloud-service vendor to another. To help clear the way, IEEE Standards Association working groups have been focusing for the past year on writing a cloud portability road map and producing an inter​­operability standard. The IEEE Cloud Computing Initiative is leading both efforts. More than 45 people are involved in the working groups.

The Institute first reported on the groups in “Bringing Standards to the Burgeoning Cloud” [July 2011]. In this special-topic issue, we want to update our readers on their progress.

As more services become available, users at some point probably will want to transfer their data from one provider to another, but there is no standard to seamlessly do that. The IEEE P2301 Draft Guide for Cloud Portability and Interoperability Profiles is being designed to provide an intuitive road map for application portability, management, and interoperability interfaces, as well as for file formats and operating conventions. When completed—probably in 2014—the standard will help vendors, service providers, and consumers involved with every aspect of procuring, developing, building, and using cloud computing.

Further along is the IEEE P2302 Draft Standard for Intercloud Interoperability and Federation. Nowadays, people want the same kinds of global roaming, portability, and interoperability capabilities for storage and computing that they have with voice mail and text messaging. They also want to store their documents, photos, and apps and access them from anywhere using their smartphones, tablets, or laptops.

To that end, IEEE P2302 is defining the topology, protocols, functionality, and governance required for cloud-to-cloud interoperability. In its title, “intercloud” refers to an interconnected mesh of clouds that depend on open standards for their operation. “Federation” allows users to move their data across internal and external clouds and access services running on other clouds according to the business and application requirements.

The IEEE P2302 working group is also focusing on building a system among cloud product and service providers that would be transparent to users. The group plans to address transparent interoperability and federation in much the same way that standards do for the global telephony system and the Internet.

What the standard won’t do is address intracloud operation, because that is specific to the cloud’s implementation. Nor will it address proprietary hybrid-cloud implementations.

The standard is expected to roll out next year. A draft is available to working group members.

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