In a recent research report, Forrester tackles some of the topics of most concern for IT leaders today. Namely, how to create standards that help businesses harness all the advantages cloud has to offer without having to worry about the issue of vendor lock-in.
Forrester’s report examines the current state of cloud standards as well as future projections so infrastructure and operations (I&O) pros can make informed cloud strategy decisions.
The report is broken down into several key areas of concern with some highlights included below:
De Facto Standards and Open Source Shape Cloud Standards.
Cloud standards are ultimately determined by the market, and are developing quicker than many anticipated. In fact, in 2011 Forrester did not expect any sort of cloud standard to emerge until 2015. That’s because most observers did not anticipate the open source community to take such a powerful position in the creation of cloud standards. What has transpired is that the community at large views traditional standards development organizations (SDOs) as too large and slow to adequately respond to the speed at which the cloud market has developed.
The two services that have separated themselves as de facto standards thus far are Amazon Web Services (AWS) and OpenStack. AWS is so ubiquitous that support for its APIsisn’t optional — it’s a core requirement in the public and private cloud environments of cloud-experienced developers just about everywhere. The OpenStack Foundation has announced that a staggering 50% of all Fortune 100 companies use its platform.
SDOs And Standards-Focused Organizations Continue Their Work
Just because market share and the open source community have taken the lead on defining cloud standards going forward doesn’t mean that SDOs are disappearing. Far from it. Some organizations, such as National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and The International Standards Organization (ISO) are focusing on developing standard definitions for key terms. The Cloud Security Alliance (CSO) focuses on education to develop more security standardization in the cloud space.
Other SDOs focus on standards development as well as publish white papers to help standards keep up with the pace of the industry. Some notable recent projects from the Distributed Management Task Force’s (DMTF’s) Redfish and the Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards (OASIS) Topology and Orchestration Specification for Cloud Applications (TOSCA) saw both organizations speed up their release cycles to be able to better collaborate with open source initiatives. This has already yielded several notable improvements. At the same time, a variety of customer councils have been focusing on supporting thought leadership among cloud end users, developing best practices, and identifying the primary challenges that cloud customers face.
The Open Source World Settles: OpenStack Compatibility Is A Standard
From its previous position as an alternative to expensive software for SMBs, open source has ascended to a position of great power in the development of the cloud platform market. In2015, 59% of North American and European enterprise software decision-makers from companies that consider cloud a high priority said they also plan to increase their use of open source technology over the next 12 months.
Today, OpenStack is considered a de facto standard, with compatibility being a requirement for many private cloud solutions today. But there are also three other open source infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) projects, each offering their own unique structure and functionality: OpenNebula Project, Eucalyptus, and Apache CloudStack.
Keep A Lookout For Tomorrow’s Potential Standards
Over the past year, not a lot has changed in the realm of cloud standards themselves. But the way standards are created and the work that SDOs are doing means that we could see standards begin to shift sooner rather than later.
Portability Of Workloads Is The Next Standards Question
Perhaps the next major standard that researchers and industry professionals will need to examine is the ability to move one cloud-based workload to a separate cloud environment. Today’s process is rigid and one-way. There are several ongoing conversations about what can be done to mitigate vendor lock-in and enhance portability of cloud workloads, namely:
● OASIS TOSCA
● Vendor-neutral templates
● Platform-agnostic PaaS. Abstracting tools from the platform
It’s Time To Start Advocating For Cloud Standards
In conclusion, Forrester recommends I&O professionals get involved in advocating for and creating cloud platform standards. It’s clear that cloud adoption will continue full steam and if your organization isn’t quite there yet, that’s where you should start. But if you are already in the cloud, get involved in the discussion with your cloud vendors.
For a deeper dive into these key findings, download Forrester’s “The State Of Cloud Platform Standards, Q4 2016”.