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Data center group issues cloud usage guidelines

Open Data Center Alliance releases documents on cloud computing recommendations

By , Network World
June 07, 2011 11:08 AM ET

Network World - Users and vendors this week got a framework for implementing virtual data center and cloud computing environments from a group formed eight months ago to define such requirements.

The Open Data Center Alliance, an organization formed by large IT organizations late last year, unveiled its first deliverable: user-driven cloud usage "models" and data center requirements for use in RFIs and RFPs. The documents include eight usage models or guidelines that address what the organization believes are the most urgent issues involving cloud adoption today.

They also represent the first documented customer requirements for cloud, ODCA officials say. But those officials stressed that the models are also a guideline, not a mandate.

"It's a framework to see what's going on, not a 'you have to do it this way,'" says Andrew Feig, executive director on the technology advisory group with UBS' Global Technology Infrastructure Services, and an ODCA board member. "Without that transparency, we can't move forward."

The models address security, automation, management and policies, and transparency, or the ability to compare cloud offerings and standards-compliance.

Security includes two models: Provider Assurance and Compliance Monitoring. Provider Assurance helps ensure industry standard security levels across all cloud provider offerings. Compliance Monitoring recommends ways in which users can confirm standards compliance for security at any time, for any cloud.

The challenge in cloud security, according to the ODCA, is that there's a lack of consistent security delivery and management across enterprise and cloud services. New threats are emerging that target cloud transport, and more than 75% of respondents to a KPMG survey of IT professionals listed security as the chief concern for cloud computing, ODCA says.

Automation deals with Virtual Machine Interoperability and I/O Control models. It defines consistent VM deployment and management across any virtual environment - VMware, Microsoft, Citrix - and QoS guarantees across systems and networks in the data center and clouds.

The goal with these models is to simplify the delivery of dynamic and scalable cloud services and reduce the cost of deploying and operating a virtual machine (VM) infrastructure. Without this simplification, the cost of implementing VMs would be $2 billion between 2010 and 2014, according to ODCA, citing research from Intel and Bain Capital.

"There's not a lot of value to the different vendors' ways of managing VMs," Feig says.

Common Management and Policy includes one model called Regulatory Framework. It is intended as a guide for requirements and compliance management best practices for operational regulations the data centers and clouds may have to adhere to.

The challenge today is a lack of common management between cloud services and providers, and a complex regulatory environment that precludes consistent and uncomplicated management of regulatory compliance, ODCA officials say. And again citing data from KPMG, ODCA officials say most IT practitioners cite regulation as a primary obstacle to cloud deployment.

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