The European Commission has announced that the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) has finally released a report titled ‘Cloud Standards Coordination’. This report marks an important step in materialising the European Cloud Computing Strategy ‘Unleashing Potential in the Cloud,’ first published in 2012.

The European Commission tasked ETSI to ‘cut through the jungle of standards’ that have proliferated for cloud computing services. Interestingly, the ETSI report states that cloud standardization is far more focused than originally anticipated. Furthermore, it has confirmed that while the Cloud Standards landscape is complex, ‘it is not chaotic and by no means a jungle.’

The report usefully sets out the following:

  • A definition of the key roles in cloud computing and illustrative diagram of the roles played by the Cloud Service Customer, Cloud Service Provider and Cloud Service Partner
  • An analysis and classification of more than 100 cloud computing use cases across three phases, including acquisition, operation and termination of cloud services
  • A list of more than 20 relevant organisations involved in cloud computing standardization, including, for example, the European Union Agency for Network and Information Security, the International Organisation for Standardization, and the National Institute of Standards and Technology
  • A map of core cloud computing documents including a selection of more than 150 resource documents, such as standards and specifications, as well as reports and white papers related to different activities to be undertaken by Cloud Service Customers and Cloud Service Providers over the cloud service life-cycle

The report also lists a series of recommendations, including:

  • Interoperability in the cloud requires standardization in APIs, data models and vocabularies
  • Existing security and privacy standards must keep pace with technological advances in the cloud industry, and must develop a common vocabulary
  • More standards must be developed in the area of service level agreements for cloud services, including an agreed set of terminology and service-level objectives
  • The legal environment for cloud computing is the key barrier to adoption. Given the global nature of the cloud and its potential to transcend international borders, there is a need for an international framework and governance, underpinned by agreed global standards.

Neelie Kroes, European Commissioner for the Digital Agenda, commented, “I am pleased that ETSI launched and steered the Clouds Standards Coordination (CSC) initiative in a fully transparent and open way for all stakeholders. Today’s announcement gives a lot of hope as our European Cloud Computing Strategy aims to create 2.5 million new European jobs and boost EU GDP by EUR 160 billion by 2020.”

Director General at ETSI, Luis Jorge Romero, added, “Cloud computing has gained momentum and credibility…in this perspective, standardization is seen as a strong enabler for both investors and customers, and can help increase security, ensure interoperability, data portability and reversibility.”

The report concludes by recommending that the European Commission should task ETSI to work on an updated version of the report in 12 to 18 months, considering that the rapid maturation of standardization will likely be significant over this period.