Jeff Jaffe, head of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), has warned that global cloud standards may never see the light of day if organisations and vendors delay taking action to oversee their development.
Speaking at the Cloud World Forum Conference in London, Jaffe said that multiple incompatible platforms within the main cloud delivery models pose a growing problem as more companies move their data to the cloud.
He said: "People want to use a standard infrastructure for flexibility. The problem is that if don't standardise now, it won't get better if we wait three or more years as the silos out there will continue to get deeper.
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"That threatens us, as we may never be able to create standards for the cloud. That would be very bad and would hold us back from the true potential of the cloud."
Jaffe added that cloud computing has reached a maturity that makes now the right time for organisations worldwide to begin developing standards.
He said: "Some people say it's too early, or the market's moving too quickly, or people don't know what they want, or there are too many standardisation organisations. Some think the cloud started in the '50s or '60s, but even if you date it from 2006 with the launch of Amazon Web Services, that's seven years, so it's not too early."
Jaffe called for increased pressure on cloud vendors to address the issue of cloud fragmentation.
He said: "Part of the call is that the vendors need to figure out how to pick up the mess of fragmentation. IT companies need to get after vendors and tell them that they're making it hard for them by not getting their acts together on standardisation."
He added that cloud vendors should differentiate not based on silo lock-in but on price, quality of service, additional capabilities and compliance with standards.