Cloud computing challenges at a glance
As discussed in the first part of my column, cloud adoption is most popular with SMBs and not among large enterprises because of inadequate assurances provided by current cloud services. While some big companies will create their own private clouds or go with a hybrid of private clouds and public ones, the underlying problems surrounding cloud services won’t just go away overnight.
The industry needs to band together and come up with a common taxonomy for service and product definitions within the cloud. One supplier might name things a certain way while another may use different terms for the same things -- or use the same term to mean several things. If the cloud service providers can't agree on terms, there's no way that you as a buyer can compare the services against one another to meet the needs of your company.
Security is another challenge in the cloud business model, but the severity of the challenge depends on each market segment. Enterprise customers (and those with WANs) are far more concerned with security (regulation, privacy and data portability) than small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) and small office home office (SOHO) customers. For enterprise WAN customers, private clouds address many of the security issues, but it is worth noting that not all data within an enterprise customer is highly regulated and private, and hybrid clouds (a mixture of private and public clouds) are gaining traction as a consequence.
While security is a cause for concern, so is something like service-level agreement (SLA) management. If your provider’s network goes down, what happens to your services and how is your provider going to compensate you for the inconvenience?
TM Forum's Cloud Services Initiative to improve cloud services management
At TM Forum, we see the same challenge facing cloud uptake today that plagued business models like application service provider (ASP) a decade ago. The buyers and sellers need to work together to overcome buyer concerns. That’s why we started our Cloud Services Initiative and its Enterprise Cloud Leadership Council (ECLC) earlier this year. By bringing enterprise customers together with their cloud service provider suppliers, we’re creating the environment for understanding and collaboratively removing the roadblocks to widespread adoption of cloud technology at the enterprise level.
We have an ambitious lineup of activities within our initiative that will solve cloud computing problems in the industry and remove barriers to the adoption of cloud services. With the Cloud Services Initiative at TM Forum, we are:
- Improving cloud services management and operations.
- Combining our Business Process Framework and ITIL in the context of the cloud.
- Tackling client billing and partner revenue sharing for cloud services.
- Defining and maintaining a set of standardized definitions of common cloud computing services as commercial products as well as services such as desktop as a service, database as a service and virtual private clouds.
TM Forum will also be enlisting the aid of other industry organizations with expertise in specific areas to help bring all of this together. These organizations, among others, are the ITU, itSMF, OMG and DMTF.
We don’t expect all of this to happen overnight, and we won’t be able to do it without cooperation across the board. But from what we’ve been hearing, all the players in the cloud series value chain are receptive to creating a wider, more open, more vibrant marketplace that ultimately will help everyone win.
About the author
Matt Edwards is head of the Cloud Services Initiative at the TM Forum . His primary objective is to stimulate growth of a vibrant and open marketplace for cloud services by bringing together the entire ecosystem of enterprise customers, cloud service providers and technology suppliers in order to remove barriers to adoption based on industry standards. Matt has more than 20 years of experience successfully driving profitable business solutions into enterprise and telecommunication companies around the world.
This was first published in August 2010