Cloud computing vendors sense an opportunity to offer services for the healthcare space, as they position their service offerings for specific vertical industries, or so-called community clouds. Verizon's Terremark division is the latest to do this by offering a Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)- compliant cloud.
Rick Ruskin, who heads up strategy for network monitoring and performance management firm eG Innovations, says one way cloud users can guarantee cloud services will be up to their required standards is through service-level agreements, which dictate the amount of uptime and performance metrics that will be delivered and penalties if they are not. But Klickstein doesn't see that as a panacea. It's one thing for there to be an SLA in place to take action after an incident, but she just needs it to work in the first place. Klickstein, more than anything, wants the service to be reliable.
For some users, building a reliable cloud infrastructure in their IT organization means not putting all their eggs in one basket, meaning they may federate across multiple clouds, says Bob Noel of Enterasys, a network infrastructure and management company. The key to that, he says, is having interoperable clouds. Interoperability across cloud providers leaves customers in control of their IT assets, allowing users to move workloads among public clouds, based on security, performance, for example.
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How can true interoperability be achieved? Michael Skok, a VC partner at North Bridge Venture Partners, who has invested in a variety of cloud startups, says he sees standards emerging from three areas. Open source cloud platforms, such as OepnStack, are hoping to position themselves as a standard, although OpenStack backers themselves admit their project is far from a standard so far.
De facto standards could emerge as well. Some have said Amazon Web Service APIs, because of their wide use, could by default become a market standard that other organizations work around. A third way to encourage interoperability, says Pete Manca of Egenera, is to have third-party vendors, such as RightScale, enStratus and others, provide integration services across multiple clouds.