The OASIS international consortium has launched a new open standards initiative to enhance the portability of cloud applications and services. The OASIS Topology and Orchestration Specification for Cloud Applications (TOSCA) Technical Committee will advance an interoperability standard that will make it easier to deploy cloud applications without vendor lock-in, while maintaining application requirements for security, governance, and compliance.

“IDC’s research shows cloud initiatives are top priorities for many enterprise IT teams,” says Mary Johnston Turner, IDC Research Vice President, Enterprise Systems Management Software. “The goal of these cloud programs is to reduce costs and improve business agility by creating highly flexible IT environments that can quickly respond to changing business priorities. To date, however, most cloud implementations have been unable to easily migrate applications across heterogeneous public and private infrastructure resources. TOSCA’s aim is to enable broad cloud portability by providing an open standard to describe a complex application running on a complex environment. This is a critical missing link for customers that want to take full advantage of hybrid cloud architectures and the full range of available cloud services.”

TOSCA will enable the interoperable description of application and infrastructure cloud services, the relationships between parts of the service, and the operational behavior of these services (e.g., deploy, patch, shutdown)–independent of the supplier creating the service, and any particular cloud provider or hosting technology. TOSCA will also make it possible for higher-level operational behavior to be associated with cloud infrastructure management.

“By improving service and application portability in a vendor-neutral ecosystem, TOSCA will streamline the migration of existing applications to the cloud as well as cloud-bursting,” said Paul Lipton of CA Technologies, co-chair of the OASIS TOSCA Technical Committee. “It could also facilitate the evolution towards more dynamic, multi-cloud provider applications.”

“TOSCA will be the first standard to describe IT services that go beyond infrastructure as a service. It will define service templates across *aaS layers, connecting them to the resource abstraction layer,” added Simon Moser of IBM, who also co-chairs the TOSCA Committee.

An initial draft specification for TOSCA was jointly authored by Capgemini, CA Technologies, Cisco, Citrix, EMC, IBM, NetApp, PwC, Red Hat, SAP AG, Software AG, Virtunomic, and WSO2. This specification will be contributed to the OASIS TOSCA Technical Committee for further development and advancement within the open standards process.

“Similar to the advent of the World Wide Web, cloud computing is creating new possibilities and enabling more efficient, flexible, open and collaborative computing models,” said Laurent Liscia, executive director, OASIS. “Having open standards around cloud will help achieve an IT environment with fewer boundaries, increase the speed of adoption and add a new level of flexibility. The beneficiaries of TOSCA will be consumers, developers and providers of cloud-based solutions.”