ACS seeks vendor buy-in for Cloud Protocol

Industry body to consult with major cloud providers to establish TrustMark-style qualification for cloud providers.
Written by Tim Lohman, Contributor

The Australian Computer Society (ACS) is consulting with major cloud vendors in an effort to garner industry buy-in for its fledgling Cloud Computing Consumer Protocol.

The protocol, announced in July, seeks to establish a voluntary code of practice for cloud providers to help consumers make better decisions when buying cloud products and services has been launched, according to the Australian government.  

However, following its launch, consumer groups also criticised the protocol, arguing that being voluntary, it would not go far enough in ensuing the transparency of cloud services and protecting consumers' data and privacy.

The protocol also received stiff push-back from cloud service providers such as Google, Telstra, and Microsoft which argued that making the new protocol compulsory could stifle the emerging cloud market and leave businesses, consumers, and start-ups worse off.

The Australian Government subsequently moved to reassure cloud service providers that a new voluntary consumer protection code being developed is not a precursor to mandatory industry regulation.

Speaking to ZDNet, outgoing ACS president, Nick Tate said that the industry body was still working to introduce the protocol, but that it would need to overcome a level of resistance.

"The major vendors involved in the consultation were worried about the proliferation of protocols across the world," he said.

"The ACS is still looking at whether a voluntary protocol working with some of the vendors would be a good idea, but it would need reasonable buy in from at least one or two vendors. But we think that is possible."

These protocols included the CSA Security, Trust & Assurance Registry (STAR) in the US, New Zealand's Institute of IT Professionals' (IITP) CloudCode, and the European Union's European Cloud Computing Strategy.

As a consequence the ACS will seek to push the protocol as a set of regulations by which cloud providers must abide to carry a consumer awareness-style TrustMark model. This model, Tate said, would meet the needs of both consumers and cloud vendors.

"What consumer groups are saying is that they'd like to see something which talks about the transparency of what vendors are doing," he said. "Think of it as a TrustMark."

"Anything that makes things more transparent is of benefit to the consumer and I think of benefit to the market as a whole because it gives consumers more confidence to buy.

"If a number of vendors were to decide to use a TrustMark — in a market where there is keen competition — any differentiator can be helpful for a vendor. Vendors might then re-evaluate whether it is worthwhile being a part of that TrustMark." 

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