Standards for Portability

Cloud platforms should make it possible to securely and efficiently move data in, out, and among cloud providers and to make it possible to port applications from one cloud platform to another. According to NIST cloud portability  means that data can be moved from one cloud system to another and that applications can be ported and run on different cloud systems at an acceptable cost. This allows allows two or more kinds of cloud infrastructures to seamlessly use data and services from one cloud system and be used for other cloud systems.

Over the last year progress has been made on new standards in this area. In particular, Open Virtualization Format (OVF) from the Distributed Management Task Force (DMTF) and Topology and Orchestration Services for Applications (TOSCA) from OASIS:

Open Virtualization Format (OVF) - DMTF

This standard addresses portability concerns between various virtualization platforms. It consists of metadata about a virtual machine image or groups of images that can be deployed as a unit. It provides a mechanism to package and deploy services as either a virtual appliance or used within an enterprise to pre-package known configurations of a virtual machine image.


Topology and Orchestration Services for Applications (TOSCA) - OASIS

The OASIS TOSCA TC works to enhance the portability of cloud applications and services providing a machine-readable language to describe the relationships between components, requirements, and capabilities. TOSCA will enable the interoperable description of application and infrastructure cloud services, the relationships between parts of the service, and the operational behavior of these services (e.g., deploy, patch, shutdown)--independent of the supplier creating the service, and any particular cloud provider or hosting technology. TOSCA will also make it possible for higher-level operational behavior to be associated with cloud infrastructure management.
By increasing service and application portability in a vendor-neutral ecosystem, TOSCA will enable:

  • Portable deployment to any compliant cloud
  • Smoother migration of existing applications to the cloud
  • Flexible bursting (consumer choice)
  • Dynamic, multi-cloud provider applications