On Monday, ElasticHosts' Richard Davies claimed in this column that cloud services provider certification may do more harm than good.
He said such schemes can be a burden in terms of time and resources, particularly for SMBs, to the detriment of innovation and core capabilities.
I cannot argue with the fact that certification schemes, such as the Cloud Industry Forum (CIF) code of practice, do indeed cost time and resources, but it is their rigour that makes them so valuable to the industry.
After all, let's not forget who certification is ultimately for: the end user. In this relatively young industry, it is rather easy to seduce customers with false claims over security and data protection, for example.
Certification schemes can provide much-needed independent endorsement of providers' promises. Independent validation allows customers to make better buying decisions. This has to be of value.
CIF, in creating such a scheme, has taken important steps towards providing a foundation in a fast-changing and relatively new technology sector.
Some certifications are largely decorative, and it is worryingly easy for organisations to choose a scheme that will require the least amount of work and the least investment.
But what sets the CIF code of practice apart is the basis of its certification. It has been independently developed and has clear enforcement of the self-certification process to maintain standards and integrity.
This should help the cloud industry raise its game.
It has often been suggested that standards and regulation stifle innovation, but innovation can only go so far without trust – which is what certification schemes are all about.
I concede that committing to a technical standard may restrict innovation, but management and operational certification schemes can put robust systems behind the operation and management of service delivery – not rigid requirements around the technical features of products and services.
Rather than being the enemy of smaller cloud providers, certification can boost their business prospects.
While larger organisations may be seen as credible, having built brand equity and market-leading positions, smaller organisations must often do more to prove themselves to potential customers.
Having their services validated through certification is invaluable, and essentially levels the playing field. That two thirds of current applications for the CIF Code of Practice are SMBs is testament to this.
CIF offers as much support to SMBs as possible through the process (including handholding and guidance from APM).
The fee is according to size, which should help smaller players.
Certification is also very cost effective when compared with the business benefits reaped as a result.
Cloud adoption in the UK is set to soar over the next 12 months, particularly among SMBs. Certification will be key to encouraging end-user confidence and gaining market share.
Richard Pharro is chief executive of APM Group
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