A newly formed consortium is looking to formulate open standards for the cloud, so that each cloud will not be treated like a separate island, but will instead be able interoperate with each other.
The Open Cloud Consortium (OCC) is made up of a group of universities that is both trying to improve the performance of storage and computing clouds spread across geographically disparate data centres, and promote open frameworks that will let clouds operated by different entities work seamlessly together.
Cloud is certainly one of the most used buzzwords in IT today, and marketing hype from vendors can at times obscure the real technical issues being addressed by researchers such as those in the Open Cloud Consortium.
"There's so much noise in the space that it's hard to have technical discussions sometimes," says Robert Grossman, chairman of the Open Cloud Consortium and director of the Laboratory for Advanced Computing (LAC) and the National Center for Data Mining (NCDM) at the University of Illinois at Chicago.
Say you're running an application with one cloud provider, such as Amazon's EC2 service , and want to switch to another one. "Our goal would be that you would not have to rewrite that application if you shifted the provider of cloud services," Grossman says.
The OCC wants to support development of open source software for cloud-based computing and develop standards and interfaces for the interoperation of various types of software that support cloud computing.
OCC members include the University of Illinois, Northwestern University, Johns Hopkins, the University of Chicago, and the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology (Calit2). Cisco is the first major IT vendor to publicly join the OCC, though more could be on the way.