One of the problems in practice with cloud is that many organisations are wary of it because they're not quite sure if they'll be able to get their data back again if Bad Stuff happens. It's all part of that general sense that putting your data in the cloud is risky -- too risky for many big companies.
Meanwhile small to medium sized businesses are lapping it up. With little or no IT infrastructure or staff and little incentive to use either, for an SME the cloud is comme il faut.
For the bigger organisation, it's a tad more problematic. There's more at stake, there's a lot of inertia and locked-in investment, and many more constraints on agility and flexibility. This is what the cloud promises to help with of course -- but getting from here to there, and being convinced that the cloud provider can deliver on those promises are among the biggest issues.
Standards could help. They could provide a set of best practices, they could set a terms and conditions baseline, and they could provide technical interfaces to make moving between cloud providers -- and comparing their services -- a lot easier than it is.
Just as well that there's a new cloud standards body, then. The Cloud Standards Customer Council, of which CA, IBM, Kaavo, Rackspace and Software AG are sponsors, has yet to produce any standards but is focused, says its latest release, on standards, security and interoperability issues.
It's one of many straws in the wind. March this year saw the formation of the Open Networking Foundation, which is promoting software-defined networking, an approach that is alleged to make networks programmable and so more responsive to data. Then there's the US National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) which has also issued standards on privacy and security for cloud computing.
I didn't have to look to hard to find those three: there are loads more. Experience teaches us that a popular new technology/business process will generate many of these bodies, each jockeying for position, before the dust settles. Until that happens though, their proliferation is likely to act more as an inhibitor of cloud computing than an accelerator.
So it's a vicious circle: enterprises want standards and security. That won't happen in global markets to the extent that big organisations demand until there's an agreed set of standards -- or at least there looks like there might be such a thing. Until then, I suspect we'll be in pilot city rather than seeing wholesale adoption.