IEEE attempts to “build bridges” between different cloud computing providers

The IEEE, World’s largest professional association that has invented standards like WiFi may be the one to solve one of the biggest challenges in the emerging Cloud computing economy.

Unlike the current business software vendors such as SAP, Oracle, IBM etc., providers of equivalent cloud versions do not provide an easy way for their individual offerings to work together (interconnect.)

As a result, while I can easily make an enterprise planning software (ERP) from SAP talk to an HR software from its main rival Oracle directly, I cannot make a customer management (CRM) cloud service from talk ‘directly’ to a cloud productivity suite from Google.

A large part of the reason has been that each of the cloud providers thinks that it can emerge as a standard — and thereby bring even its competitors onto its ‘platform’ and there will be no need for further interconnect.

The problem is currently solved by a local program ‘downloading’ the cloud data from one provider and ‘uploading’ it onto another provider. While it works in crunch situations, it fails to even come close to the real interconnection and coordination that customers seek.

For example, when a customer makes a purchase, the company would like the data to be automatically passed on to the vendor management application (often from another cloud provider) so that the latter can increase its next order suitably. In the cloud computing World, this would ideally be done by having an interconnection between the computers of both cloud providers — between their data-centers, instead of the customer having to download and upload manually.

“To achieve the economies of scale that will make cloud computing successful, common platforms are needed to ensure users can easily navigate between services and applications regardless of where they’re coming from, and enable organizations to more cost-effectively transition their IT systems to a services-oriented model,” points out Dr Alexander Pasik, CIO at IEEE.

According to industry research firm IDC, revenue from public cloud computing services is expected to reach US$55.5 billion by 2014, up from US$16 billion in 2009, but lack of standards for real-time exchange of data is hampering its growth, IEEE warned.

“Today, many public cloud networks are configured as closed systems and are not designed to interact with each other. The lack of integration between these networks makes it difficult for organizations to consolidate their IT systems in the cloud and realize productivity gains and cost savings.

“To overcome this challenge, industry standards must be developed to help cloud service providers design interoperable platforms and enable data portability,” it said.

The IEEE will hold a seminar next month to discuss the way forward, it added.