Steve Diamond: Seeding the Cloud

Getting IEEE more involved in cloud computing

7 June 2012

The last few years have seen the cloud computing marketplace explode like a high-tech Wild West—exciting, fast-growing, chaotic, and full of opportunity. That’s because cloud computing offers the promise of ubiquitous, scalable, on-demand computing resources provided as a service for everything from mobile devices to supercomputers.

In 2010, IEEE sponsored two cloud computing–specific conferences—IEEE CLOUD and IEEE CloudCom—but as yet had no cloud-specific standards projects, dedicated publications, or educational activities.

Photo: Steve Diamond

Enter IEEE Senior Member and IEEE Computer Society past president Steve Diamond and a team he began putting together two years ago. Diamond, general manager of the Industry Standards Office at EMC Corp., a global IT company headquartered in Hopkinton, Mass., says he realized that cloud computing could mirror the development—and transformational impact—of the Internet.

He was convinced IEEE was uniquely positioned to play a major role in accelerating and shaping that future. So he and his team of experienced colleagues, with the support of the IEEE Future Directions Committee and seed funding from the IEEE New Initiatives Committee, developed the IEEE Cloud Computing Initiative (CCI), which he now chairs.

 “Much as we saw with the development of the Internet, cloud computing will impact the entire information and communications ecosystem, from embedded controllers, smartphones, tablets, laptops, and personal computers to enterprise data centers and supercomputers,” he says.

“The smartphone is the fastest-growing consumer technology in history, having reached 50 percent penetration of U.S. households in just 7 years. It took the home computer nearly 20 years to do the same thing,” he adds. “Cloud computing will give smartphone users effectively infinite computing resources at their mobile beck and call. The implications of this transition are huge.”

As CCI chair, Diamond leads a team of IEEE volunteers and staff guiding the six interdependent CCI tracks: conferences; education; publications; standards; test bed; and Web portal, marketing, and public relations. [Read more about these in “Coming Soon: New Cloud Computing Services.”]

Diamond says the CCI team understood how the breadth and depth of expertise across IEEE could be applied to help accelerate the development of cloud computing.

“We knew that IEEE could not only have an important role in the development of cloud standards but could also—by using its global resources and partnerships—contribute significantly to cloud computing research and development, education, conferences, and publications,” he says.

Diamond also chairs the IEEE Cloud Computing Standards Committee, which oversees working groups developing IEEE cloud standards. Two working groups are already under way: IEEE P2301 Draft Guide for Cloud Portability and Interoperability Profiles, a guide to the cloud standards landscape, and IEEE P2302 Draft Standard for Intercloud Interoperability and Federation, which focuses on standards for cloud-to-cloud interfaces. [See “Standards for Seamless Cloud Computing.”]

Diamond is also chairing the cloud standards panels at the IEEE CLOUD 2012 conference in June, in Honolulu, and IEEE CloudCom 2012 in December, in Taipei.

“There are dozens of specification and standards development organizations and industry associations already working on standards in the cloud space, although there are few completed cloud standards or specifications to date—it’s still very early,” says Diamond.

“A key challenge for participants in cloud standards is choosing those standards and specification efforts and organizations in which to invest.”

Diamond draws his expertise from 30 years of senior management, marketing, business development, and engineering in semiconductors, software, systems, and standards. Prior to his job at EMC, he was director of product management for intercloud computing at Cisco Systems, in San Jose, Calif., and vice president of marketing at Equator Technologies, a VLIW signal processor semiconductor company later sold to Pixelworks, headquartered in San Jose. Before that, he did mergers and acquisitions at National Semiconductor, in Santa Clara, Calif., and ran SPARC architecture marketing at Sun Microsystems, in Palo Alto, Calif.

Along the way, he’s authored numerous technical publications on cloud computing, memory and microprocessor technology, signal processing, and computer graphics. Diamond was the 2003 president of the IEEE Computer Society and served on the IEEE Board of Directors from 2005 to 2006 and again from 2009 to 2010.

Diamond’s first high-tech job was in biomedical research at the University of California San Francisco Medical Center’s Langley Porter Neuropsychiatric Institute, where he built minicomputer-based expert systems for EEG signal analysis. That led to an interest in using microprocessors for portable real-time biomedical signal analysis. Diamond then joined Intersil, a pioneer in low-power CMOS microprocessors, which led him into industry standards and ultimately to spearheading the IEEE Cloud Computing Initiative.

“Cloud computing is undergoing a rapid evolution, but the major directions are already clear,” he says. “The Cloud Computing Initiative is excited to be leading IEEE’s efforts in this new computing megatrend.” 

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