Network Computing is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

OASIS Targets Cloud Portability

The Topology and Orchestration Specification for Cloud Applications (TOSCA) Technical Committee recently formed by OASIS (Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards), the not-for-profit open standards consortium, along with several IT vendors and consumer groups, will be good for facilitating cloud portability, industry observers say. The goal of TOSCA is to enable deploying cloud applications without vendor lock-in, while maintaining application requirements for security, governance and compliance.

TOSCA joins an already crowded field of standards and requirements principles for cloud computing that includes, but is not limited to, the Open Cloud Principles (OCP) from the Open Cloud Initiative (OCI); the Open Data Center Alliance standards for cloud providers; a guide to cloud computing from the Cloud Standards Customer Council; the OpenStack Compute for developing a cloud-based server environment and OpenStack Object Storage for cloud-based storage; the IEEE's Cloud Computing Initiative; and the Clouds Standards Customer Council (CSCC).

Cloud initiatives are top priorities for many enterprise IT organizations because they aim to reduce costs and improve business agility by creating highly flexible IT environments that can quickly respond to changing business priorities, according to IDC. "To date, however, most cloud implementations have been unable to easily migrate applications across heterogeneous public and private infrastructure resources,'' notes Mary Johnston Turner, research VP, enterprise systems management software at IDC, in a statement.

"TOSCA's aim is to enable broad cloud portability by providing an open standard to describe a complex application running on a complex environment. This is a critical missing link for customers that want to take full advantage of hybrid cloud architectures and the full range of available cloud services," she says.

TOSCA will enable the interoperability of application and infrastructure cloud services, the relationships between parts of the service and, independent of the supplier creating the service as well as any cloud provider or hosting technology, the operational behavior of these services, such as deploy, patch and shutdown. TOSCA will also make it possible for higher-level operational behavior to be associated with cloud infrastructure management.

"TOSCA will be the first standard to describe IT services that go beyond infrastructure as a service,'' says Simon Moser of IBM, a co-chair of the TOSCA committee, in a statement. "It will define service templates across *aaS layers, connecting them to the resource abstraction layer."

As business and IT consumers pursue the potential benefits of cloud/IaaS/ PaaS/ SaaS, etc., the fundamental challenge is how to assure easy portability and access to any and all cloud services, observed Rich Ptak, an industry analyst, in a blog posting ( At the same time, cloud systems need to interoperate and co-exist with traditional structures. "As clouds (public, private and hybrid) proliferate and expand, achieving this new degree of structural independence requires standards and reference architectures at a higher level of abstraction,'' said Ptak. "To get this done right, customers and vendors must cooperate to create multivendor standards and architectures to meet these expectations. TOSCA provides an excellent way to do this."

TOSCA will streamline the migration of existing applications to the cloud, as well as cloud bursting, by improving service and application portability in a vendor-neutral ecosystem, said Paul Lipton of CA Technologies, who also co-chairs the TOSCA Committee, in a statement. "It could also facilitate the evolution toward more dynamic, multicloud provider applications."

Members of TOSCA include 3M, ASG Software, CA Technologies, Capgemini, Cisco, Citrix, EMC, Gale Technologies, IBM, Jericho Systems, Morphlabs, NetApp, Red Hat, SAP, Software AG and TELUS.

Learn more about 5 Steps to Building A Private Cloud by subscribing to Network Computing Pro Reports (free, registration required).