NIST Kicks Off New Cloud Computing Efforts

Published: July 09, 2014

Cloud ComputingDOCDigital Government

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Cloud Computing Program (NCCP) launched three new working groups at the end of June 2014, and all three groups are set to start work by mid July 2014.

Following the announcement from NIST on June 25, 2014, the Cloud Computing Program will expand the number of public working groups to address several new areas. One working group will target interoperability and portability. Another group will focus on cloud services. The third group will concentrate on frameworks for federated community clouds.

Interoperability and Portability - Two of the major challenges highlighted in the U.S. Government Cloud Computing Roadmap from 2011 were cloud interoperability and portability. The focus of this group will include exploring contexts where interoperability and portability are relevant in cloud computing.

Deliverables from the working group will include definitions of cloud computing interoperability and portability along with the relationship and interactions between them. The working group will also develop contexts where interoperability and portability are relevant to cloud computing (and the cloud computing reference architecture). The group will then leverage those definitions and contexts to establish common terminology and concepts for interoperability and portability, particularly where cloud services are concerned. The kick off meeting for the working group is scheduled for July 10, 2014 with the target date for completing the work in fall 2015.

Cloud Services – According to the announcement from NIST, “The new public working group will use the NIST Cloud Computing Reference Architecture to provide consistent categories of cloud services so buyers know what they are committing to before signing costly, long-term contracts.”  This focus addresses the fourth requirement from the Cloud Computing Roadmap. The activities of this working group will enable customers to understand the complexities of different types of cloud services so they can better evaluate and select products from vendors. On the provider side, clear guidance will be established for where interoperability and portability are required within similar categories of services.

The first deliverable from this working group is expected to be a NIST guidance paper. Priority actions include categorizing common types of cloud services according to the NIST Reference Architecture to offer government organizations a clear and consistent view of cloud services. Efforts for this working group are scheduled to kick off July 15, 2015 with a goal of completing the deliverables this fall (on or around October 2014).

Federated Community Cloud Framework – The fifth requirement of the U.S. Government Cloud Computing Technology Roadmap covers the Federated Community Clouds. According to the group’s charter statement,” the focus of Federated Community clouds is to develop a framework to support seamless implementations of disparate community cloud environments. The future of cloud computing is where both internal and external cloud resources from multiple providers are deployed and managed in order to meet business needs.”

Deliverables from this working group include a common definition for “Federated Cloud,” as well as requirements analysis. The working group will be responsible for collecting use cases that support the need for a federated cloud and generating a list of needed technologies and standards. These efforts will also chart a development path for the federated cloud and identify key stakeholders. The kick off meeting for this group is set for July 10, 2015 with the target date for completing this work in fall 2015.

These three new groups continue to build on the initial set of five public working groups, which included cloud computing reference architecture and taxonomy, security, standards roadmap, target business use cases, and standards acceleration to jumpstart the adoption of cloud computing (SAJACC). As the NCCP’s mission describes, “The long term goal is to provide thought leadership and guidance around the cloud computing paradigm to catalyze its use within industry and government. NIST aims to shorten the adoption cycle, which will enable near-term cost savings and increased ability to quickly create and deploy enterprise applications. NIST aims to foster cloud computing systems and practices that support interoperability, portability, and security requirements that are appropriate and achievable for important usage scenarios.” Additional information on participating in these efforts is available through the updated NCCP announcement site.