ITU Cloud Computing Focus group and IEEE Cloud Computing Standards Study Group- will they fill the standards void?

Introduction- The need for Cloud Computing Standards
Cloud computing deployments are being announced on an almost daily basis.  Cloud computing speeds and streamlines application deployment without upfront capital costs for servers and storage. For this reason, many enterprises, governments and network/service providers are now considering adopting cloud computing to provide more efficient and cost effective network services.  The venture capital firm, the Sand Hill Group, has concluded that cloud computing represents one of the largest new investment opportunities on the horizon.  The Cloud  Computing market is forecast to be very big by IDC, Gartner Group, andother market research firms.  But there seems to be a lot of confusion regarding the service delivery method and lack of interoperability.  And there are no solid standards for Infrastructure as a Service, Platform as a Service or Software as a Service. This results in difficulties in exchanging information between cloud service providers and for users that change providers.  It may also present a problem when bursting between a private cloud and different public clouds.  Interoperability facilitates secure information exchange across platforms.

Camille Mendler, Vice President of Research at Yankee Group: “Cloud computing is the future of ICTs. It’s urgent to address interoperability issues which could stall global diffusion of new services. Collaboration between private and public sectors is required..”    That lack of interoperability is a huge problem, was highlighted at the recent Cloud Connect Conference (in Santa Clara, CA in March).  It was a very sobering experience for this author.  At the conference, it was revealed that there was no umbrella set of standards for cloud computing and no single standards body claims ownership of comprehensive cloud computing specifications.  IBM’s VP of Cloud Services Ric Telford was asked what he thought about the huge growth forecast for cloud computing.  Mr. Telford said: “I have no problem with those numbers (40% in three years; 70% in five) as long as you include the caveat, it could be any one of five delivery models.”  So the industry needs to define and standardize on those methods of delivering cloud services and applications to users, he said.

ITU-T Establishes Cloud Computing Focus Group

A new ITU-T Focus Group on Cloud Computing has been formed to enable a global cloud computing ecosystem where interoperability facilitates secure information exchange across platforms. The group will take a global view of standards activity in the field and will define a future path for greatest efficiency, creating new standards where necessary while also taking into account the work of others and proposing them for international standardization.

Malcolm Johnson, Director of ITU’s Telecommunication Standardization Bureau, said: “Cloud is an exciting area of ICTs where there are a lot of protocols to be designed and standards to be adopted that will allow people to best manage their digital assets. Our new Focus Group aims to provide some much needed clarity in the area.”   The new ITU-T Cloud Focus group will take a global view of standards activity in the field and will define a future path for greatest efficiency, creating new standards where necessary while also taking into account the work of others and proposing them for international standardization.

ITU-T study groups were invited to accelerate their work on cloud at the fourth World Telecommunication Policy Forum (Lisbon, 2009) and at an ITU-hosted meeting of CTOs in October 2009. The CTOs highlighted network capabilities as a particular area of concern, where increased services and applications using cloud computing may result in the need for new levels of flexibility in networks to accommodate unforeseen and elastic demands.

Vladimir Belenkovich, Chairman of the ITU Focus Group on Cloud Computing: “The Focus Group will investigate requirements for standardization in cloud computing and suggest future study paths for ITU. Specifically, we will identify potential impacts in standards development in other fields such as NGN, transport layer technologies, ICTs and climate change, and media coding.”

A first brief exploratory phase will determine standardization requirements and suggest how these may be addressed within ITU study groups. Work will then quickly begin on developing the standards necessary to support the global rollout of fully interoperable cloud computing solutions. The Focus Group will, from the standardization view points and within the competences of ITU-T, contribute with the telecommunication aspects, i.e., the transport via telecommunications networks, security aspects of telecommunications, service requirements, etc., in order to support services/applications of “cloud computing” making use of telecommunication networks; specifically:

  • identify potential impacts on standards development and priorities for standards needed to promote and facilitate telecommunication/ICT support for cloud computing
  • investigate the need for future study items for fixed and mobile networks in the scope of ITU-T
  • analyze which components would benefit most from interoperability and standardization
  • familiarize ITU-T and standardization communities with emerging attributes and challenges of telecommunication/ICT support for cloud computing
  • analyze the rate of change for cloud computing attributes, functions and features for the purpose of assessing the appropriate timing of standardization of telecommunication/ICT in support of cloud computing

The Focus Group will collaborate with worldwide cloud computing communities (e.g., research institutes, forums, academia) including other SDOs and consortia.  First meeting of the FG Cloud is  14-16 June 2010 in Geneva, Switzerland.  ITU-T TSAG is the parent group of this Focus Group.  More information on that meeting:

1st Meeting of Cloud Focus Group (ITU-T Members only):

The official combined announcement of ITU-T FG Cloud establishment and first meeting is contained in TSB Circular 114:   
If you wish to participate in the first meeting, note that there is an online registration form posted at:
The Focus Group web page:
will be updated as required. I recommend to regularly check whether new information is available.
From the Focus Group web page, you may subscribe to the
mailing list and have access to the meeting documentation for the June meeting.
The deadline for contributions is 7 June 2010.[email protected]

ITU-T Distributed Computing Backgrounder:

A recently published ITU-T Technology Watch Report titled  ‘Distributed Computing: Utilities, Grids and Clouds’ describes the advent of clouds and grids, the applications they enable, and their potential impact on future standardization.

For further information please, please refer to the ITU-T web site:

ITU-T contacts:

Sarah Parkes                                                                          
Senior Media Relations Officer
Tel: +41 22 730 6135
Mobile: +41 79 599 1439
E-mail: [email protected]                                                                              

Toby Johnson
Senior Communications Officer
Tel: +41 22 730 5877
Mobile: +41 79 249 4868
E-mail: [email protected]

IEEE Cloud Computing Standards Study Group

Call for Participation

This a call for participation in the IEEE Cloud Computing Standards Study Group, sponsored by the IEEE Computer Society Standards Activities Board (SAB). An IEEE Standards Study Group is the initial step in the process of developing a IEEE standard and is open to all interested individuals.

Cloud computing is a new, rapidly growing model of computing which, according to the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology, “is a model for enabling convenient, on-demand network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources (e.g., networks, servers, storage, applications, and services) that can be rapidly provisioned and released with minimal management effort or service provider interaction.”

While there is significant effort on specific cloud computing-related standards on the part of multiple entities, a major impediment to the growth of cloud computing is the lack of comprehensive high-level portability (how applications use clouds) and interoperability (how clouds work with each other) standards.

The mission of the IEEE Cloud Computing Standards Study Group is to determine the feasibility of developing an open standards profile which defines options for portability and interoperability of cloud computing resources. These profiles should address issues such as interfaces to computing, storage, network, and content resources, as well as workload (program and data) interoperability and migration, security, fault-tolerance, agency, legal and regulatory, intra-cloud policy negotiation, and financial relationships. It is expected that there will be multiple architectural approaches from which to choose.

The profiles should also support the Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS), and Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) service models, and the private cloud, community cloud, hybrid cloud, and public cloud deployment models.

Existing standards and those under development by Standards Developing Organizations (SDOs), and appropriate industry alliances, community collaboration efforts, and other groups will be used whenever practical. The Study Group will proactively reach out to such groups to facilitate their early involvement.

For further information and/or to be added to the IEEE CCSSG mailing list, please contact Steve Diamond, Chair, IEEE Cloud Computing Standards Study Group, at ieee-ccssg-chair [at] intercloud [dot] org

IEEE to Participate in White House Led Cloud Computing Strategy Discussion Focus is on Strategy to Accelerate the Adoption of Cloud Computing 

WASHINGTON, May 20 /PRNewswire/ — Dr. Alexander Pasik, Chief Information Officer (CIO) of IEEE, the world’s largest technical professional association, has been selected to join industry leaders and key administration officials to discuss the creation and adoption of national standards for cloud computing at a leadership meeting taking place today.

Dr. Pasik will join United States Deputy Secretary of Commerce Dennis Hightower, CIO Vivek Kundra and the Administration’s Cyber Security Coordinator, Howard Schmidt, along with other prominent industry thought leaders to discuss the challenges and opportunities of cloud computing adoption. Dr. Pasik brings to the meeting deep expertise in emerging technologies and their impact on business models, service-oriented architecture (SOA) and the technical and security characteristics of cloud computing models.

“As an IEEE member and CIO of the organization, I am very honored and excited to be a part of this initiative and to collaborate with the highest caliber of technology thought leaders on this critical issue,” Pasik said. “Our discussion is a significant step toward furthering technology standards to advance the implementation of cloud computing operations and establish national standards. It is a historic event in the legacy of U.S. technology.”

In March 2010, IEEE, in partnership with the Cloud Security Alliance, released findings from a survey of IT professionals that revealed overwhelming agreement on the importance and urgency of cloud computing security.



While I knew cloud computing was way overhyped, I thought that there was one or more standardards organizations that claimed ownership.  I also thought that all the functional requirements and specifications done for grids, web services, and SOA (e.g. distributed management, federation, SLA requests and validation,etc) would not have to be re-invented and redone for clouds.  Wow, that’ll be a huge undertaking.   Which standards organization might step in to fill this void?  ITU, IEEE, other?

Without a set of unified cloud computing standards, it’s my belief that for at least the next five years, each cloud provider will define its own set of user interfaces, SLAs, performance parameters, security methods, etc.  The more cloud providers, the more chaos and confusion will reign.  Therefore, we believe an urgent, accelerated standards effort is needed for (at least) the network aspects of cloud computing, e.g. UNI and NNI, SLAs and validation/compliance.  I would’ve thought by now that the major players would’ve gotten together to create such an organization or combine several interested standards bodies/forums/alliances to make one.  We hope that ITU-T be the standards organization to set the reference network architecture for cloud computing.  Other standards bodies and/or forums will be needed to provide the computing framework and related standards.

Note that this author is an ITU-T member and has access to all documents, including contributions and meeting reports for the Cloud Computing Focus Group.  Please contact me if your organization might be interested in a consulting arrangement to monitor or research this new activity.