Cloud or utility computing has been frequently compared with electricity. Nick Carr, in his very popular book Big Switch: Rewiring the World, from Edison to Google, painted a very compelling picture of large utility-like computing centers built to host applications and data and compared it with power utilities. The comparison resonated with the readers and his book became a big hit. A significant reason for the creation and the success of power utilities was standardization.
There is a strong consensus on the fact that to deliver to true value of cloud computing, we need standards. However, most people assume that standards imply portability. While that is clearly an ideal state, looking at how clouds are evolving using multiple virtualization technologies, I find the task of achieving true portability daunting and potentially impossible.
I propose that one of the first goals should be creation of a standard unit of computing power - something comparable to KWHr in electricity. This, in conjunction with bandwidth (MBPS) as applied to data transfer rates between the consumer, cloud compute units and storage will provide a simple way to compare, acquire, consume and bill cloud infrastructure. It will also immediately simplify software product licensing.
My initial thought is that this will be a TPC like benchmark that each cloud provider will have to specify and meter.