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UK Trade Groups to Name SaaS/Cloud Standards

Last week, Dennis Howlett announced some exciting news on both his personal and ZDNet blogs: the ICAEW (Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales) and several UK trade groups will be working together to develop SaaS/cloud standards.

This year, “SaaS” and “cloud computing” business softwares have been discussed nonstop, and those two terms have become largely interchangeable—and at the expense of understanding what each is. As Howlett puts it, “everything getting an _aaS label [is] now conflated into ‘cloud anything’”. The three trade groups are Intellect SaaS Group, the BASDA’s Cloud SIG, and EuroCloud UK, and they will meet with the ICAEW to develop best practices, or some sort of “quality mark” for vendors. The idea is to engage both the buy and sell sides to develop business standards for the erstwhile ambiguous SaaS economy.

In addition to working toward best practices and quality stamps, security (from data to APIs) is another issue to be discussed. But it should be noted that some of the security issues at hand for these groups are EU/UK-specific, and would not necessarily color a similar US debate.  As Howlett sees it, the important objectives are as follows:

  1. Clarity for buyers and sellers about issues that are currently causing endless and at times futile debates
  2. An opportunity for ICAEW to act as honest broker between buyers and sellers, demonstrating leadership for both members (who may have concerns) and more broadly as a body that has the public interest in mind.
  3. A requirement that all trade groups act in concert to help develop business led standards that elevate discussions around technology to a level where business decision makers can readily understand what’s going on and relate it to their business needs and concerns.

He also notes that his extensive experience causes him to be “100%” behind this initiative, but those who don’t share his level of expertise can easily get behind the move as well. The simple fact that this would clarify “SaaS” and “cloud” for buyers and sellers is huge, and seemingly more necessary as the two become muddled. Hopefully we will soon see a similar venture stateside.