Users should get more involved in helping develop cloud standards said the chairman of the Storage Network Industry Association (SNIA) in Europe. But Bob Plumridge said that the organisation was aware of the logistical problems facing users and said the organisation was looking at ways to help users overcome these.

Plumridge said that user involvement would be the most helpful way in which standards bodies could produce standards that were genuinely useful but admitted that it was difficult for managers from enterprises to spare the time given the demands that they are facing in their organisations. "To spend time on the development of a standard involves about six months of a manager's time – very few organisations can spare that.

He said that SNIA in the US was looking into a sort of halfway house, where users didn't have to get completely involved in the standards process but could make their opinions known. "They're looking at using collaboration tools so that users could at least vote on some of the issues. That's the probable way forward for us."

Plumridge was speaking at the association's datacentre confernence where he spoke about the recently-ratified CDMI standard. The Cloud Data Management Interface (CDMI) is a standard that will allow users to create, retrieve, update and delete data elements from the cloud.

"There has been a lot of confusion about cloud computing," he said. "But the availability of CDMI will give some confidence to customers that if they buy something from one vendor, then a CDMI product from another vendor should work with it. It won't be totally transparent – this is still the first version of the standard – but it will be improved over time.

Plumridge acknowledged that there had been some confusion in the cloud market because of the proliferation of the standards-making bodies. "We're all working together now. This is less of an issue that it has been.

Apart from the emergence of different standards, Plumridge said that user organisations were still struggling with security in the cloud. "It's still the overwhelming number one issue for customers, although there are plenty of legal issues too. Customers want to know where their data is being held."

Apart from the emergence of cloud computing and the ratification of standards, Plumridge said the other big issue facing users was the migration from one storage medium to another. "Every five years or so, we move to a new medium and with the rise in data stored, we could be looking at months to move that data. It's something that's normally considered."