Enterprises are to be given guidance on cloud-storage technology thanks to a new venture from The Storage Networking Industry Association (SNIA).  The organisation has formed the Cloud Storage Initiative (CSI) to establish a lexicon of cloud-computing terminology, publish use cases, white papers and technical specifications, and to create reference implementation models for grid-storage architectures.

The CSI will coordinate and deliver educational materials for cloud storage vendors and user communities. The organisation also plans to perform market outreach highlighting the virtues of cloud storage. The group is developing a single specification as part of its efforts. The Cloud Data Management Interface (CDMI) will be an API to which vendors can write management software that will allow interoperability between heterogeneous cloud storage offerings, according to Wayne Adams, SNIA's chairman emeritus.  .

"Part of the challenge with cloud is where does the data live? And how are you able to manage it once it's in the cloud, and can you get it back in the same format that you now have," said Mark Carlson, a SNIA Technical Council member said. "There's this idea of how portable is my data that once I get it out there can I get it back in a format that can be ingested by another vendor?"

Carlson said the CSI will focus on disseminating information about technology to build both public cloud service, such as Amazon's S3 service, and private cloud architectures in data centres. CSI published cloud storage cases and requirements for cloud storage in June.

The CSI will complement the technical innovation and development from the SNIA Cloud Storage Technical Working Group , which has more than 140 members representing over 50 commercial vendors, service providers and educational institutions. The CSI will aid the Technical Working Group in bringing specifications and technical developments to international standards development organisations. It is also releasing a joint white paper with the Open Grid Forum (OGF) focused on cloud storage for cloud computing all developed by the working group.

"It's both encouraging and timely to see this new initiative from SNIA," said Simon Robinson, research director of storage for research firm The 451 Group. "It's gratifying to see this co-operative effort around standards and education, since those are two of the current impediments to fast adoption as technologies mature and become integrated into more vendor offerings."