A cloud guide even your mother-in-law could use

Do we need yet another guide to cloud computing?

Apparently so, if it is based on consumer-driven requirements that will help organizations develop strategic and tactical strategies, and provide specific guidance on implementing the on-demand, pay-for-what you-use computing model.

That’s why the Cloud Standards Customer Council (CSCC) recently released a "Practical Guide to Cloud Computing," which is targeted at IT and business decision-makers interested in obtaining the benefits of cloud computing. And if a farm girl from Italy can grasp the concept, all the better.


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Another cloud computing organization?, you might ask. There are many standards bodies, open forums and organizations trying to move the ball forward with respect to the development and deployment of cloud computing. What’s so different about CSCC?

The warfighter working at the tactical edge, people soliciting services from the government, and teachers using social media and big data are all cloud users, said Melvin Greer, chief strategist for cloud computing at Lockheed Martin.

They are the ones adopting cloud computing, so the idea of a Cloud Standards Customer Council makes sense, he said during a presentation at the 12th SOA for E-government Conference at Mitre Corp. in McLean, Va.., Oct. 11.

CSCC's aim is to not only to get the cloud provider’s perspective, but to look at the computing model through the lens of the end user. So the organization spent a lot of time making sure that end users’ priorities are embedded in the best practices and case studies in the guide, said Greer, who is chair of  the CSCC Practical Guide to Cloud Computing Working Group. The 36-page guide gives cloud practitioners useful information in non-technical language, he said, noting that it will continue to evolve.

In fact, Greer wants to get the perspective of his 66-year old mother-in-law into the guide. After Greer explained to her what type of work he does, she said, “I know exactly what cloud computing is all about.”

As a girl growing up in Naples, Italy, her father had a water well on their property. They fed livestock and watered crops. One day a guy came from far away talking about providing water on-demand from a centralized location. However, nobody wanted to do that. They didn’t know where the water came from, whether or not it was secure and not polluted. It might kill livestock and crops, they said. However, after some folks signed up, others began to see that if their wells died they would be the only ones affected while others got water. Plus, they saw the benefits of not having to dig wells themselves. They began to see the economic benefits of moving to centralized water consumption.

“The reason why we have the Cloud Customer Standards Council is so we can take my mother-in-law’s perspective on cloud computing and send it to the standards organizations,” Greer said. He is also very much interested in getting feedback from 10th graders, who after all will be the future leaders and employees of government.

Then, standards bodies can direct the development of interoperability, data portability, cloud security and network access – all of the elements associated with the cloud – into the development of standards. Standards are great to have but are useless if no one adopts them, Greer said, noting that CSCC is not a standards body.

CSCC is comprised of 250 companies and organizations, including technology industry stalwarts such as AT&T, IBM, Harris and Lockheed Martin, as well as companies from other sectors such as financial services and retail. The General Services Administration and the National Institute of Standards and Technology are members, as are organizations like Mitre that work with federal agencies .

The organization is comprised of 17 working groups focused on vertical markets such as legal, financial services, media, retail and telecom, while others are focused on cloud deployment areas such as infrastructure-as-a-service and software-as-a-service.

CSCC‘s practical guide, which uses NIST’s definition of cloud computing, consists of five sections that focus on:

  • Rationale, definition and benefits.
  • Vision, economics and catalyst for innovation.
  • Roadmap.
  • Keys to success.
  • Works cited and references.

How does CSCC’s guide align with the NIST U.S. Government Cloud Computing Technology Roadmap, which is expected to be released in November?

NIST is on the council, and a number of member companies are participating with the development of the NIST Cloud Computing Roadmap. So, there is a strong synergy between members’ understanding of end-user priorities, Greer said.

In fact, at the NIST Cloud Computing Summit in November, Dawn Leaf, NIST’s senior advisor of cloud computing, will focus on the issues associated with cloud standards in the federal government from an end user’s perspective, Greer noted.

CSCC's "Practical Guide to Cloud Computing” is modeled upon other guides such as the “Practical Guide to Federal Service Oriented Architecture” and “The Practical Guide to Federal Enterprise Architecture.”

“So, it is not a surprise to have a “Practical Guide to Cloud Computing,” Greer said. “What’s surprising is that it didn’t exist before.”

Reader Comments

Thu, Jan 26, 2012 WS northwest US

Yes, nothing new here. And I love how so many articles, including one linked to from here for FedRAMP, state that unreasonable fears are holding us back from cloud computing when it has the ability to save us so much $. Just like the good old time-share days, you better look at important strategic issues even if you ignore the security, such as: how locked-in am I once I pick a service/platform? And that's where we need, eventually, one consistent set of standards. Early adopters will gain some features and maybe some cost savings (maybe, because how much an Internet pipe will you need also), but early adopters will suffer from lock-in and experience growing pains others won't. And from a risk management perspective, you better consider multiple issues besides up-front costs. We've been able to do hosted services that were virtualized, i.e. voila it is now a cloud, for some time - there were reasons for doing it, and reasons not to. But if you can't easily move services from Rackspace to Amazon to other vendor of choice, think about it carefully. And unlike your previous service contracts, like long distance, cell phones, or even simple web hosts, in this case the vendor will have your data: who has the strongest negotiating angle then, you or the vendor?

Fri, Oct 14, 2011

Cloud? Can you say "time share"? As I read 'the latest' it just seems to me that there are newer names (granted newer technology) for old concepts/processes.

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