The need for a standard cloud taxonomy

Various vendors have made the term cloud computing almost meaningless, and an overall taxonomy for the technology and market--required for interoperability--is sorely lacking.

James Urquhart
James Urquhart is a field technologist with almost 20 years of experience in distributed-systems development and deployment, focusing on service-oriented architectures, cloud computing, and virtualization. James is a market strategist for cloud computing at Cisco Systems and an adviser to EnStratus, though the opinions expressed here are strictly his own. He is a member of the CNET Blog Network and is not an employee of CNET.
James Urquhart
2 min read

The Cloud Interoperability meeting prior to Cloud Connect in Mountain View, Calif., last week was a very interesting petri dish of some of the best and brightest in the cloud-computing marketplace.

There certainly was a quorum of companies represented (though Amazon.com couldn't make it at the last minute, and Microsoft never replied to the invitation). There also, as you might imagine, was no shortage of opinion on how to proceed.

As you might imagine in such a situation, most of the day was taken by attendees expressing their personal visions of cloud interoperability and standards building, only to boil next steps down to developing a taxonomy and sorting out a small list of the most pressing concepts to be explored. A wiki was proposed, and I will share the URL when I get it.

Here is the whiteboard at the end of the day (artistry courtesy of David Berlind, one of the founders of the event):

While the whiteboard may suggest that there was a large amount of agreement on the core concepts and that taxonomy was but a minor player, the reality is exactly the opposite. We couldn't agree on much of anything, except that there is a need for taxonomy and that trust (namely security) was one of the most pressing issues.

Funny enough, this is almost exactly the same conclusion reached in my recent discussions with some Cisco Systems partners, and (apparently) by Reuven Cohen, founder of Enomaly and the Cloud Computing Interoperability Forum (CCIF). Reuven conversed with Cannonical Services Director Simon Wardley--one of the Cloud Interop participants--and reached the joint conclusion that we need a stable, accepted taxonomy for cloud computing to "grease the skids," so to speak, for vendor interoperability discussions.

I have to say I'm down with that. I'm just not convinced that the right forum to gain consensus among the growing "cloudosphere" exists yet. Perhaps it is the CCIF. Perhaps this wiki that Berlind proposed. It would be unfortunate if market forces and time are the only answer. If not, then I'll be wherever I am needed to move the process forward.