Mission: Protocols to ease true cloud federation

The newly named founding members of the IEEE Intercloud Testbed Project have a tough problem ahead of them: coming up with protocols to ease the federation of workloads across clouds.

The idea is to make it much easier for businesses to utilize multiple clouds for their workloads or to move apps and data between clouds with minimal wear-and-tear — something that would have come in handy during the recent Nirvanix closure.

There are already libraries that allow people to use multiple clouds but the process is not easy and it’s not federation, said David Bernstein, originator of the project and founding chair of the IEEE P2302 working group. He likened the current state of cloud interoperability to telephone calling cards that let you make long distance calls, but only after dialing in a zillion numbers. It can be done, but it’s ugly.

The 21-member group is heavy on academic institutions and researchers with members including the Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC); The Hong Kong Polytechnic University; University of Melbourne; Global Inter-Cloud Technology forum (GICTF); Second University of Naples; and others. Vendor members include Juniper Networks(s jnpr), Orange, 6Fusion, Servicemesh and Virtustream.

The lack of major cloud player names —  hello, Amazon Web Services(S amzn), Google(s goog) and Microsoft(s msft)? — is not surprising given that this is the early going, Bernstein maintained. “We have a lot of early work still to go,” he said.

The bottom line in his view: “Things have to work together to make this bigger for everyone. … Federation is inevitable.”

To enable that ambitious goal, a lot of basic blocking and tackling has to be done and the group will try to do that, said Joe Weinman, SVP of cloud services and strategy at Telx, another member.

“Some of it, to use an airline analogy, is like making sure bar codes are uniform from airline to airline … so United can route baggage to American Airlines,” he explained. “But in cloud it will enable the ability to advertise available resources with descriptors so you know if storage or compute is available at this price and these characteristics, say in Singapore.”

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock user  Tooykrub