For its advocates, the idea of an Intercloud—an open system connecting cloud computing providers on an equal basis—is simply one more example of how open architecture creates opportunities for everybody. “There’s the internet, which connected all these different service providers so you can send email from someone on one to someone on another. There was the phone system—until about 1970 you couldn’t call another country, you had to get someone to connect you, then suddenly you could just pick up the phone and dial. There’s mobile phone technology—you used to need a calling card to make a call in another country, now, as soon as you land, your phone figures out where it is and the local system figures out who you are and they connect. The creation of the intercloud is following a blueprint that works,” says David Bernstein, Vice Chair, IEEE Cloud Computing Standards Study Group.
The Working Group on IEEE P2302™, Standard for Intercloud Interoperability and Federation, first came together in mid-2011 and its members have been active in devising technologies and publishing papers. Along the way, however, members saw a need to be able to work together on testing aspects of the technology, using clouds already operated by members—the kind of neutral collaborative research that has been very successful on other projects in recent years such as the National Science Foundation’s GENI. They wanted to keep it within the IEEE structure because of its benefits of legal framework and collaborative processes, but the IEEE Standards Association working groups, as a neutral platform, don’t do testing.
But earlier this year, group members turned to another part of IEEE-SA, Industry Connections (IC). After some careful consideration, IC agreed to sponsor the Cloud Computing Test Bed as a program. “We could have started as an industry initiative,” says Bernstein, “but we chose to do it within IEEE because it’s a more neutral, wider-reaching process that’s not tilted toward any one company. It has established paths for marketing and collaboration that work well—it’s an open process, but it’s not a free-for-all.”
The testing process had to wait for a first draft of the standard from the working group, which was created earlier this year. With the IC program approved, invites are going out to about two dozen players in industry and academic research now to participate in this Test Bed.