The Cloud Industry Forum (CIF) has recently concluded the final public consultation phase in its efforts to establish a code of practice for cloud service providers and end users. The goal of the project is help foster industry standards for vendors and to aid end users as they attempt to make critical decisions about such vendors. According to the body of over 200 participating organizations, which include IT consultancy firms and software vendors, the viability of cloud and increases in cloud adoption are dependent on the industry’s ability to communicate to end users that their services are secure and that there are accountability measures in place. As Andy Burton, CIF Chairman stated, “We firmly believe the markets needs a credible and certifiable code of practice that provides transparency so that consumers have clarity and confidence in their choice of a provider.”
There are currently a number of industry standards bodies that are working, often separately, to form their own governing and regulation boards to evaluate vendors and help consumers make informed decisions about the cloud, whether for enterprise or research use. While the CIF is one of many such groups, its contribution of a code of practice, which will be released in October, could further help assist organizations as they make decisions although it is not clear what punitive or governing measures vendors will need to abide by and whether or not this code of practice will be a list of suggestions or whether or not vendors will be ranked or graded according to their compliance with the standards the CIF states.
As cloud adoption grows, there are likely to be an increasing number of governing, standards, and evaluation-based groups that emerge. However, once the dust has settled, just as there will be an inevitable “thinning of the herd” among cloud vendors, so too might there be such a weeding process for cloud standardization and evaluation bodies. The defining variable will be transparency—in other words, if an advocacy group is moderated in large part by vendor versus consumer interest, it is not likely to hold its own when it comes against scrutiny when compared to more objective and consumer-focused groups.