Recently, the DMTF (Desktop Management Task Force) announced an initiative to develop cloud standards for resource management, packaging formats, and security mechanism to facilitate the interoperability of private and public clouds (and amongst public clouds from different providers). Given my recent critics on the term of "private cloud" that means just standards to be able to use different types of service providers, regardless where they are. The announcement can be found here.
The DMTF starts an Incubator to develop such standards, including existing work and standards like WS-Policy and others. From my perspective, DMTF is an interesting player in that field given that they have succeeded with some other standards around desktop management and systems management. And they have a lot of vendors on board, mainly from the virtualization and systems management market segments. Thus it is likely that they are able to drive things forward. Anyhow, they shouldn't miss to include existing de-facto standards like the APS (Application Packaging Standard) promoted by Parallels.
There is no doubt that we need a lot of standardization for the cloud. The DMTF initiative addresses current needs of managing the "infrastructure cloud" but will as well influence the level of the "platform cloud", as long as you understand management for systems, identities, and so on as part of that level. Anyhow it will probably take us some years until we can use cloud-ready systems management tools which rely on the potentially upcoming standards in that area.
And we also have to be aware of the fact that even that initiative will cover only a few of the missing standards for the cloud computing of the future. Authorization management, business-level policy management, SLA standards and many other elements are missing today. Anyhow, any initiative for further standardization is welcome from my perspective, as long as it focuses on integration with other initiatives and existing standards and as long as it delivers - the sooner, the better.
And, by the way: Don't miss the Cloud 09 Conference in Munich, December 2nd to 4th.