NIST cloud computing standards work off the ground

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has reached a first important stage in developing cloud security standards and guidelines by creating draft documents.

Among cloud computing standards undertakings, the work of the U.S. Government is especially closely watched. Some time ago, the Government's Chief Information Officer Vivek Kundra asked the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to develop cloud security standards and guidelines in collaboration with others, and that work has reached a first important stage as NIST has created draft documents for review.

One of the documents may be especially welcome to the sizable community that has consistently decried cloud computing's "lack of definition." Researchers have now published A NIST Definition of Cloud Computing. It is available for review as a PDF.  Also available for review are Guidelines on Security and Privacy in Public Cloud Computing.

NIST describes the essential characteristics of cloud computing to be: On-demand self-service, broad network access, resource pooling, rapid elasticity (enabling quick scale out, and rapid release to quickly scale in) and measurable services. The organization notes that cloud computing has, in fact, emerged out of service oriented architecture, virtualization, Web 2.0, and utility computing. Thus, NIST adjudges, "many of the privacy and security issues involved can be viewed as known problems cast in a new setting."

Among the working groups for cloud standards established by NIST are teams working on reference architecture and taxonomy, building a standards roadmap, standards acceleration to jumpstart the adoption of cloud computing(SAJACC), cloud security and use cases. Examples of possible use cases include an employee email system or a migration of a specific application system to a specific cloud computing model option.

The Object Management Group, the Distributed Management Task Force, and the Open Cloud Forum are other operations pursuing standards for cloud computing.

This was first published in February 2011
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