NIST portal could get cloud standards to fly

The National Institute of Standards and Technology is working on a portal that will help facilitate collaborative development of standards to support cloud computing requirements.

The National Institute of Standards and Technology is developing a portal to facilitate collaborative development of standards to support cloud computing requirements, Dawn Leaf, NIST senior executive for cloud computing, told attendees today at a conference in Washington, D.C.

The Standards Acceleration to Jumpstart Adoption of Cloud Computing is a strategy and a  process, and will become the portal, Leaf said. The NIST executive spoke at the NIST Cloud Computing Forum & Workshop held at the Commerce Department.

The summit brought together representatives of federal agencies and the private sector with the intent to develop data interoperability, portability and security standards for cloud computing that can be applied across agencies. 


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NIST first conceived of the strategy in March, Leaf said. The goal is to the address the issue of how to support the implementation of complex technology during the period when standards are needed but not yet developed, and to accelerate the development, she said.

NIST believes that the government community can accelerate cloud adoption by validating key cloud specifications and sharing information to build confidence in cloud computing technology before formalized standards are available, she said.

The heart of SAJACC is a process that focuses on certain requirements -- interoperability, portability and security -- that can be defined in the form of use cases. Use cases can define, refine and interpret those requirements so the IT community can see if the specifications being applied can satisfy those requirements. This information can be provided to the government community at large and standards groups, Leaf said.

Where does the portal come in? It will be a publicly accessible Web site that will host a repository of use cases, documented interfaces and test results. The development and implementation of specifications will come from the overall IT community; the portal is just a method of communication, Leaf said.

Leaf expects the portal to be available sometime before the end of 2010.

While the portal will focus on use cases related to technical requirements, business use cases are now available on the CIO.gov Web site.

Federal Chief Information Officer Vivek Kundra  told attendees that 30 case studies highlighting cloud computing best practices are now on the Web site. For instance, the Securities and Exchange Commission moved to SalesForce.com to cut the time it took to process cases from 30 days to seven, Kundra noted.

He gave other examples from the federal government ,such as Recovery.gov moving to Amazon’s cloud solution and USAspending.gov’s move to NASA’s Nebula cloud platform, as well citing state and local examples such as the State of Utah and the City of Los Angeles.

However, he noted the implementation of standards is crucial for widespread adoption of the cloud, a journey he described as “beginning today.”

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