Vendors air the cloud's pros and cons

Industry officials promoted the benefits but also noted the challenges posed by cloud computing at the Cloud Computing Conference & Expo conference last Friday afternoon, citing economics as a plus for the concept and security as a concern.

Cloud computing features users accessing services deployed by a third party's infrastructure rather than using their own in-house systems. The concept offers improved economics, with a shared infrastructure and elasticity, said Preeti Somal, vice president of research and development at , during a general session at the event, in San Jose, Calif.

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But a lack of standardization in the cloud creates complexity and switching costs when moving to another vendor, she stressed. Each cloud vendor has a different application model. Proprietary, vertically integrated stacks limit choice, according to VMware.

To address standardization, VMware is proposing OVF (Open Virtualization Format), a packaging and distribution format for virtual formats. It is intended to offer more portability and platform independence.

Service providers play a key role in VMware's plan. "For us, our goal is to [enable] service providers, to provide them that software layer that enables them to move to cloud computing," Somal said.