Coghead failure highlights Cloud standards shortcomings

A lack of portability standards in cloud computing contributed to the shutdown last week of PaaS (platform-as-a-service) provider Coghead, which was acquired by SAP.

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A lack of portability standards in cloud computing contributed to the shutdown last week of PaaS (platform-as-a-service) provider Coghead, which was acquired by SAP.

Coghead provided a service enabling developers to build Web applications and sell them through a solution provider programme.

The company partnered with Amazon.com for hosting on the Amazon EC2 (Elastic Compute Cloud) service. But the issue of lack of standards hurt Coghead's cause, said Paul McNamara, Coghead chairman. "I think some customers raised [the lack of standards] as an issue," wanting to see standards before moving to the cloud, he said.

Coghead was becoming active in development of standards for XML-based application definitions, he said. Coghead represented applications as XML documents. "We'd like to see standards evolve in terms of how that's done," McNamara said.

Coghead's approach was different from other approaches, so "interoperability is currently not there" with other cloud platforms, said McNamara. Thus, applications on the Coghead platform must be re-created to run on another platform. "We're giving them time to take all the data out of the system," McNamara said.

An analyst concurred that lack of standards presents a problem for platform-focused cloud computing. "There's no portability standards, which locks customers to a given PaaS," said John Rymer, a principal analyst at Forrester Research.

The lower-level cloud services offered by Amazon "may turn out to be a standard," according to Rymer. "[Interoperability there] is much better due to REST and to a lesser degree, SOAP."

Coghead had posted a notice of discontinuation on its Web site from McNamara citing a February 18 shutdown.

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