Two of Australia's largest companies have thrown their weight behind a 'cloud computing buyers council' designed to help increase the uptake of cloud services at an enterprise level.
Telstra and the Commonwealth Bank have signed on to the Enterprise Cloud Buyers Council (ECBC), an initiative being led by global industry association TM Forum.
Other companies joining the program include AT&T, BT, CA, Cisco, Deutsche Bank EMC, HP, IBM and Microsoft.
Michael Lawrey, executive director of Telstra's Network and Technology division said he hopes the Council will help him define service level agreements for cloud computing and enable Telstra to play a role in the setting of open standards.
"The service level agreements we could offer with cloud computing are not very well defined, and personally I would like to make sure we get alignment across the industry. And the second thing is to make sure we drive the standards," Lawrey told iTnews.
Other areas for work identified by the Council include setting common product definitions, addressing cloud security issues, investigating interoperability, data portability and APIs, and exploring federated cloud stores.
"There are a number of barriers that must be overcome before cloud can become a mass-market success," said TM Forum chairman and CEO Keith Willetts.
The setting of open standards has so far proved challenging for the suppliers of cloud computing services, however a new push by the world's largest technology companies is likely to pave the way for users of cloud services to jump from vendor to vendor.
"The industry has moved on from the days when we had large incumbent telcos that could define their own standards," said Lawrey.
"Now we're looking to define open standards, open APIs that people can build to...so that a service provider doesn't get locked into one vendor and can pick and choose between 'best in class' vendors accordingly."
The idea of a federated cloud store, where large volumes of data could be stored with open access, is likely to hold appeal at an enterprise level, but Lawrey says it could prove challenging.
"The federated cloud store is something the industry is talking about...It's an ambitious goal, a Utopia to try and look towards, but I would question whether the industry could do it, and if it could, what the time frame would actually be."
For now, some say interoperability is a bigger issue that could stand in the way of broader adoption of cloud computing.
In March, Microsoft expressed concern about what it called a "lack of openness" in the development of the Cloud Manifesto, a set of principles for open cloud computing, reportedly drafted by IBM.
"The TM Forum's work on interoperability is especially helpful for the industry to deliver on the promise of cloud computing" said Amitabh Srivastava., senior vice president of Windows Azure with Microsoft.