Organizing cloud chaos

Two new International Standards provide sound foundation

By Antoinette Price

Governments and private sector organizations recognize cloud computing as a major, game-changing technology, which focuses on maximizing the effectiveness of shared resources. Given the multitude of offerings and their fast-pace development, issues of quality and compatibility have arisen, resulting in the need for a solution through standardization.

No more head in the clouds

Previously, software programmes ran on personal computers, however cloud computing allows them to run on large networks of remote servers. This means data-processing tasks, and centralized storage can be shared, and access to computer services throughout the Internet is possible.

The IEC and ISO (International Organization for Standardization) have recently published two new International Standards for cloud computing:

Developed by ISO/IEC JTC (Joint Technical Committee) 1: Information Technology, and recommended by ITU-T, the International Telecommunication Union’s Telecommunication Standardization Sector, they aim to address the complicated cloud-based services and products, which can have compatibility issues, by providing a reference of definitions of common terms and descriptions of how different elements of cloud computing relate to one another. They will also improve communication between vendors and customers and provide a basis for emerging and future cloud computing Standards.

“Cloud computing is a shift in the paradigm for providing IT capabilities to users that may impact a great deal of future IT products, systems, and services,” said Dr. Donald Deutsch, Chair of ISO/IEC JTC 1/ SC (Subcommittee) 38, responsible for developing the two Standards. “These first cloud computing International Standards provide a sound foundation for follow-on Standards as needs become clearer in this area.”

What the Standards offer

ISO/IEC 17788, Cloud computing – Overview and vocabulary, provides definitions of common cloud computing terms, including those for cloud service categories, such as Software as a Service (SaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS). It also specifies the terminology for cloud deployment models such as “public” and “private” cloud.

ISO/IEC 17789, Cloud computing – Reference architecture, contains diagrams and descriptions of how the various aspects of cloud computing relate to one another, including the cloud computing roles, activities, and the functional components and their relationships.

Looking ahead

These International Standards have paved the way for new projects within JTC 1 Subcommittees, which will look at important issues including:

Cloud computing – Service level agreements

Cloud computing – Interoperability and portability

Cloud computing – Data and their flow across devices and cloud services

Cloud computing – Security issues

More about ISO/IEC JTC 1

The work of ISO/IEC JTC 1: Information technology, is produced by a consensus-based, globally relevant, voluntary International Standards group. More than 2 000 experts from 163 countries come together to develop mutually beneficial guidelines that enhance global trade while protecting intellectual property.

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