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Monthly Archives: April 2009

Open Cloud Standards – Part 3

B-winstonbumpusPosted by Winston Bumpus
Director of Standards Architecture, VMware

After last week’s exciting VMware announcements around the first cloud OS VMware vSphere 4, this week we have additional important news around the announcement of the Distributed Management Task Force (DMTF) Open Cloud Incubator. As President of the DMTF I see this as an important activity at this point in the evolution of this technology as it has begun to revolutionize IT infrastructure. This group plans to tackle several key issues as it relates to the interoperability of cloud management. 

It is probably a good idea at this point to describe what an incubator is and why it is different from a regular work group. I think the best way to describe this is to say that the incubator is really a place for ideas to be developed or incubate before specifications are created. A while back, the DMTF wanted to encourage groups who were in the early stages of developing technology to come to the DMTF and use the existing tools and policies for the rapid development. So to that end, the DMTF borrowed a model used by several member companies and many industry standards organization and created a new DMTF initiative called an incubator. The intent of an incubator is to develop recommendations and draft specifications which will then be taken through the traditional standardization process. The hope was to encourage organizations and members to bring their ideas, even in an early stage, to the DMTF.

The other difference between an incubator and a traditional work group is that it has a leadership board that is comprised of the key stakeholders in the creation of the work. This organization at launch has 13 leadership board companies including VMware, in addition to many other participating companies. We hope others will join the activity and other companies may be added to the leadership board over time. 

From the charter posted on the DMTF site, this incubator plans to:

  • Enable the use of cloud computing within enterprises and improve the interoperability between cloud platforms via open cloud resource management standards.
  • Increase awareness and support by management systems vendors that develop products to manage cloud resources.
  • Enable cloud service portability.
  • Provide management consistency cross cloud and enterprise platforms.

One of the important activities of this incubator will be to develop recommendations for enhancements and extensions to the Open Virtualization Format (OVF) that may be needed for cloud computing. There has been quite a bit of discussion from me and others on how this may be an important building block for cloud interoperability. The incubator will be a good place for the industry to have those discussions and make agreed upon recommendations. The other two important aspects of this incubator will be around cloud APIs, particularly as they relate to management as well as looking at security models and methods to support this level of cloud interoperability.

VMware is pleased to be a part of this activity and hopes to help enable new levels of interoperability and choice for our customers.

Open Cloud Standards – Part 2

B-winstonbumpusPosted by Winston Bumpus
Director of Standards Architecture, VMware

To continue my previous post, there is lots of work and discussion going on amongst various technologies vendors, service providers and customers around cloud computing and the need for industry standards. This week we see the announcement “SNIA Forms Cloud Storage Technical Work Group.” VMware is a supporter of this release and sees this as an important set of interfaces that need to be standardized  to enable interoperable cloud computing. This new group will be a technical working group (TWG, pronounced twig) of the Storage Networking Industry Association (SNIA). This announcement is a milestone as it is the launch of probably the first true standards activity for clouds and was announced at the Storage Networking World being held in Orlando, FL this Monday.

So what is cloud storage? According to the SNIA, Cloud Storage can be contrasted with SAN/NAS storage as both are “Storage Networking.” However, provisioning may be different and how you pay for it may be different. One other primary difference is that essential management tasks for storage resources are usually performed by the cloud operator and may not be done by the storage users themselves. Also the cloud has bandwidth, latency and locality issues that will be reflected in the access models that will need to be used. So standards around data path APIs as well as provisioning and metered will need to be defined to allow for interoperability between enterprises, private and public clouds.

This new work will focus on SNIA architectures and best practices related to cloud storage technology. SNIA has been around for years and is a well-respected trade association and advocate for the storage industry. This new work stems from both the need for such an association and from discussions that have been ongoing in several public meetings and community forums.   Much of the creation of this activity has been done in conference calls, and on the “Cloud Storage” Google group. Currently there are over 25 organizations that have signed up to support the activity. Support of these efforts means more than having your name on the press release. It means that you commit to the hard work it takes to develop, negotiate and implement standard interfaces. I don’t believe this work will need to start from scratch as there are several technologies and standards that have already been developed that can be leveraged for this work. Certainly the use of and extension of existing standards, such as SMI-S (Storage Management Initiative Specification), will be an important part of this work.

As I mentioned in my last post, cloud standards will be developed in various groups as it is broader in scope than a single organization can address. SNIA is one of the first to announce plans and form a working group to start this work. I expect other groups and organizations to do the same as it relates to their areas of expertise. In future posts I will be providing additional background on the other work going on in the various standards organizations as activities and specifications continue to roll out  in support of  open cloud computing.