The Intercloud is an interconnected global "cloud of clouds" and an extension of the Internet "network of networks" on which it is based. The term was first used in the context of cloud computing in 2007 when Kevin Kelly opined that "eventually we'll have the intercloud, the cloud of clouds". It became popular in late 2008 and has also been used to describe the datacenter of the future.
The Intercloud scenario is based on the key concept that each single cloud does not have infinite physical resources or ubiquitous geographic footprint. If a cloud saturates the computational and storage resources of its infrastructure, or is requested to use resources in a geography where it has no footprint, it would still be able satisfy such requests for service allocations sent from its clients. The Intercloud scenario would address such situations where each cloud would use the computational, storage, or any kind of resource (through semantic resource descriptions, and open federation) of the infrastructures of other clouds. This is analogous to the way the Internet works, in that a service provider to which an endpoint is attached, will access or deliver traffic from/to source/destination addresses outside of its service area by using Internet routing protocols with other service providers with whom it has a pre-arranged exchange or peering relationship. It is also analogous to the way mobile operators implement roaming and inter-carrier interoperability. Such forms of cloud exchange, peering, or roaming may introduce new business opportunities among cloud providers if they manage to go beyond the theoretical framework.
In July 2009 in Japan, an effort called the Global Inter-Cloud Technology Forum (GICTF) was launched with the stated goal of "We aim to promote standardization of network protocols and the interfaces through which cloud systems interwork with each other, and to enable the provision of more reliable cloud services than those available today". As of mid-2012 they have over 85 member companies and have published proposed use cases as well as technical documents.
In July 2010 in France the First IEEE International Workshop on Cloud Computing Interoperability and Services (InterCloud 2010) was held bringing researchers together and yielding many published papers. The workshop has become an international research series, with InterCloud 2011 held in Turkey, InterCloud 2012 held in Madrid, and Intercloud 2014 held in Boston.
In February 2011 the IEEE launched a broad cloud computing initiative IEEE Cloud Computing including a technical standards effort called P2302 - Standard for Intercloud Interoperability and Federation (SIIF). The stated goal of the working group is to produce a standard as such: "This standard defines topology, functions, and governance for cloud-to-cloud interoperability and federation. Topological elements include clouds, roots, exchanges (which mediate governance between clouds), and gateways (which mediate data exchange between clouds). Functional elements include name spaces, presence, messaging, resource ontologies (including standardized units of measurement), and trust infrastructure. Governance elements include registration, geo-independence, trust anchor, and potentially compliance and audit. The standard does not address intra-cloud (within cloud) operation, as this is cloud implementation-specific, nor does it address proprietary hybrid-cloud implementations." As of mid-2012 they have over 50 member companies and have published a Working Draft 1.0.
In mid-2011 the NIST Cloud Computing Reference Architecture was published fully describing hybrid clouds, cloud brokers, and so on. In late 2011 NIST published a whole set of Cloud Computing Technology Roadmaps including referencing the IEEE P2302 approach as an example of a future national/global federated cloud architecture.
In March 2012 "Intercloud" made the Wired Magazine Jargon Watch list.
In June 2012 at the 5th International Conference on Cloud Computing (CLOUD 2012) the IEEE announced an Intercloud Test Bed with stated goal of "The test bed will be a cloud infrastructure comprised of assets from participating universities and industry partners. It will be used to develop and test protocols that will be formalized in the IEEE P2302 interoperability standard."
In October 2013 the IEEE announced a Global Testbed initiative. The 21 cloud and network service providers, cloud-enabling companies, and academic and industry research institutions from the United States, the Asia-Pacific region, and Europe. The members have volunteered to provide their own cloud implementations and expertise to a shared testbed environment. They will also collaborate to produce a working prototype and open-source CloudOS neutral global Intercloud. As of 2014 this project is actively proceeding.
In late 2013 Cisco made their first announcement relating to the Intercloud. Their product Cisco Intercloud Fabric (ICF)  allows VM migrations between public and private clouds. Cisco went on in January 2014 detailing this hybrid cloud solution, and went so far as to claim that "Cisco introduced the concept of the ‘World of Many Clouds' two years ago" notably not acknowledging the work that the GICTF, NIST, or the IEEE had done.
In 2014 Cisco made another announcement Cisco revealed that it "will invest $1Bn in the next two years to build its expanded cloud business" and that "Our cloud will be the world’s first truly open, hybrid cloud. The Cisco Intercloud will be built upon OpenStack for its open standards-based global infrastructure. We plan to support any workload, on any hypervisor and interoperate with any cloud" (again assuming all clouds are using Cisco's proprietary technology).
As of June 2015, The Intercloud has yet to show real world demonstration of federation and interoperability, and challenges remain regarding security and trust, governance and legal issues, QoS, monitoring, arbitrage, and billing.
In October 2014 an Open Source project called Utter.io released a framework which claims to provide a trusted federated solution using vendor neutral deployments of OpenStack. The project does revenue sharing with providers through the use of cryptocurrencies and runs at StackMonkey, the company behind the project. As of January 2015 the project ties together clouds from HP, Nebula, and Auro, a Canadian OpenStack provider.
Trend Micro applied for on 10 October 2006 and were granted a "Notice of Allowance" on 5 August 2008 (the same week that Dell Computer's controversial application for "cloud computing" was discovered and denied). Status was 'Abandoned' as of 8 March 2010, with reason: "No Statement of Use filed after Notice of Allowance was issued". Since then, the trademark has been registered in the European Union and Switzerland.
- Bernstein, David; Ludvigson, Erik; Sankar, Krishna; Diamond, Steve; Morrow, Monique (2009-05-24). "Blueprint for the Intercloud - Protocols and Formats for Cloud Computing Interoperability". IEEE Computer Society. pp. 328–336. doi:10.1109/ICIW.2009.55.
- Kevin Kelly: A Cloudbook for the Cloud
- Intercloud is a global cloud of clouds
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- Dell Seeks, May Receive 'Cloud Computing' Trademark
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- The Intercloud by Greg Papadopoulos, CTO & EVP, R&D at Sun Microsystems
- Intercloud: The Evolution of Global Application Delivery
- InterCloud: Scaling of Applications across multiple Cloud Computing Environments, by R. Buyya, R. Ranjan, R. Calheiros, Proceedings of the 10th International Conference on Algorithms and Architectures for Parallel Processing (ICA3PP 2010, Busan, South Korea, May 21–23, 2010), LNCS, Springer, Germany, 2010.
- Security And Cloud Computing: Intercloud Identity Management Infrastructure, by A. Celesti, F. Tusa, M. Villari, A. Puliafito, Proceedings of The 19th IEEE International Workshops on Enabling Technologies: Infrastructures for Collaborative Enterprises (WETICE 2010) - ETNGRID, Tei of Larissa, Greece June 2010.
- Intercloud Trust and Security Decision Support System: an Ontology-based Approach, by Jorge Bernal Bernabe, Gregorio Martinez Perez, Antonio F. Skarmeta Gomez, Journal of Grid Computing, Springer, Netherlands, September 2015.