ISO’s first cloud computing standards – terminology and architecture

ISO recently published the first international cloud computing standards, ISO/IEC 17788:2014 Information technology – Cloud computing – Overview and vocabulary and ISO/IEC 17789:2014 Information technology – Cloud computing – Reference architecture. These standards draw on the knowledge of experts from over 30 countries and lay down the basic terminology and architectural framework for this expanding segment.

ISO spoke to Donald Deutsch, Chair of ISO’s subcommittee for cloud computing and distributed platforms, JTC 1/SC 38, about just what cloud computing is, what the benefits and risks are, and how standards can help.

Cloud computing is all the rage. But does the cloud really enable anything new? How does it work?

Donald Deutsch: Few technological innovations have generated as much hype, offered so much promise or been as widely and rapidly embraced as cloud computing. At the bare minimum, cloud computing is a form of IT involving the use of resources that are not owned, controlled and maintained by the single user. Rather, the resources are accessed over a network and are shared among some community of users. With cloud computing, those resources can be dynamically provisioned – if users need more computing power, more storage, or more processing capabilities

Cloud computing services may be provided by more than a single computer or even a single computing centre; users may actually be sharing resources across various, multiple, and maybe even not co-located facilities

What are the advantages of using cloud computing?

Donald Deutsch: Cloud computing does mean different things to different people. Depending on one’s focus, the benefits of cloud computing are to:

  • reduce expenditure on information and communication technology by deploying and using resources in a more cost-effective way
  • offer greater speed, computing power and capacity to individual users through the sharing of resources
  • make computing more accessible to individuals and to organisations of all sizes
  • increase security.

The first international cloud computing standards have just been published: ISO/IEC 17788 and ISO/IEC 17789. Could you please explain how these will help?

Donald Deutsch: ISO/IEC 17788 provides definitions of common cloud computing terms, including those for cloud service categories such as Software as a Service (SaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS). It also specifies the terminology for cloud deployment models such as ‘public’ and ‘private’ cloud.

More technical in nature, ISO/IEC 17789 contains diagrams and descriptions of how the various aspects of cloud computing relate to one another.

What’s the next phase of the cloud? How will this impact the work of JTC 1/SC 38?

Donald Deutsch: Cloud computing is a shift in the paradigm for providing IT capabilities to users that may impact a great deal of future IT products, systems, and services. These first international cloud computing standards provide a sound foundation for follow-on standards as needs become clearer in this area.

Building on the ISO/IEC 17788 and ISO/IEC 17789 foundational standards, JTC 1/SC 38 working groups (WGs) are developing standards to assist providers and consumers of cloud computing technology and services. These standards will cover service level agreements, interoperability and portability, and data and their flow across devices and cloud service.

Read about ISO’s first standard to protect personal data in the cloud

Published in business and ICT.

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