CA Technologies will release the first parts of a cloud-connected management suite of products later this year that allows users to compare and benchmark the performance of their cloud against others owned by a community of companies worldwide.
The suite aims to allow companies to optimise the mix of internal and external resources they use to deliver apps and services to users.
The first two parts of the suite - called Cloud Insight and Cloud Compose - will be generally available in October.
Insight would be sold initially as a software-as-a-service offering. Pricing wasn't disclosed.
The remaining two parts of the suite have staggered release dates - Optimize (April 2011) and Orchestrate (the following quarter).
The suite, demonstrated at CA World 2010 in Las Vegas, builds on technologies CA acquired in the past year.
Cloud Insight is built on Oblicore's Guarantee SLA software, while Cloud Compose is built on 3Tera's AppLogic. Technology inherited from the Cassatt acquisition would also be used in the suite, according to a statement.
A key part of the suite is its links to a community website launched overnight called Cloud Commons, which is intended to be a gathering point for cloud discussion on the web.
Cloud Commons - and now the cloud-connected management suite - both use an index developed by CA researchers that has been handed off to Carnegie Mellon University for further development and - ultimately - ownership.
CA hoped the service measurement index (SMI) would become a standard way for companies with clouds to evaluate their service and compare it to "similar and disparate" services globally.
"It's really important that SMI is an industry standard and built by consensus," CA's senior vice president of cloud products and solutions David Hodgson said.
"Yes, CA researchers came up with it but we needed something to get it started. It was a chicken-and-egg thing."
Carnegie Mellon senior scientist Jeff Purdue said yesterday the university hoped to create a consortium of companies to help run the SMI framework.
The SMI itself measures six characteristics of a cloud environment - cost, security, risk, quality, capability and agility - and rolls up the individual scores into a single index.
The way SMI was calculated was "a little complex" and "frankly a little immature", albeit "something that's extremely valuable and workable today", Hodgson said.
He said Insight relied on a company's existing IT monitoring systems - whether CA or otherwise - to gather data that fed into the SMI score. The score was also affected by the weighting that a user put in the six characteristics of the index.
Having the SMI embedded into the Cloud Insight product would allow cloud owners to "understand, enable and optimise their environments" and compare them to a baseline score from the Cloud Commons community, according to Chris O'Malley, executive vice president of cloud products and solutions at CA Technologies.
"Everyone is urged to get their SMI score up [by being able to compare it against others]," O'Malley said.
Users of Cloud Insight had the choice of whether they published an anonymised version of their SMI results to Cloud Commons.
"Insight users can publish data back to the Commons users," Hodgson said. "We can't know for sure [whether they will]."
Already there were almost 100 cloud services and public/private cloud environments with SMI scores listed on the Cloud Commons website. They included multiple clouds from Google, IBM, Verizon, Amazon, VMware and EMC.