Why security standards are Critical for the Cloud

Everyone loves standards, right? When is the last time you heard a vendor proudly say that their product or service was closed and proprietary? However, it also seems that every time a new IT architecture sweeps through the market, this time one based on cloud models, the lessons of the critical value of standards needs to be relearned.

While it is easy to poke fun at standards by saying such things as “I love standards because there are so many from which to choose,” it is also easy to see the incredible value that they can unlock. Look at the Internet itself as an example. It is hard to imagine the cloud reaching its potential without it using a set of widely adopted standards – security and otherwise.

In the context of this blog when I refer to security standards, I am talking about security interface standards (basically cloud security APIs) that enable security systems in one domain, whether in a cloud service or in an on-premise enterprise system, to communicate and inter-operate programmatically with security systems in other domains.

The absence of such standards drives the use of customized integrations which have been the bane of IT agility since the beginning of modern computing.

Why is it that everyone loves standards in concept, including those for security, but often standards definition and deployment is less than speedy? Why doesn’t everyone involved just pull together and solve this obvious problem now, instead of waiting until we are all suffering from lack of standards?

While this is a general issue with standards, let’s look at this issue through the lens of the emerging public cloud-based services (public IaaS, PaaS, & SaaS). There are both rational and less rational reasons why standards are developed and used at a rate slower than they should be for maximum benefit. Continue reading…

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