The Asia Cloud Computing Association (ACCA) has launched the online version of its Cloud Assessment Tool, a powerful new tool designed to help businesses choose the most suitable cloud provider.

The Cloud Assessment Tool (CAT) provides a standard framework that allows IT users to measure their requirements against vendor offerings.

The vendor-neutral framework -- the first of its kind -- will help enterprises make informed decisions as they consider migrating their data and applications to the cloud.

ACCA is currently benchmarking services and platforms provided by its members, including PLDT/Smart, Microsoft, Verizon Terremark, Telenor, Equinix and Hiring Solutions.

Martin Backstrom, Chief Technology Advisor, PLDT Group, said the Philippines telco had benchmarked its cloud services with the tool.

"We find it very useful in conversations with potential cloud customers," he said. "It clarifies our capabilities in an objective way and helps customers understand what to consider when migrating to the cloud. It creates a trustmark for cloud computing services."

ACCA is also working with partners in the financial services and insurance industries.

Bruce McKernan, CIO of Sun Life Asia, said: "I see that the Cloud Assessment Tool could significantly reduce the time and effort (and thus money) required when moving to the cloud. It provides a standard and vendor-neutral framework for evaluating cloud services, which is something that is missing today."

ACCA CEO Per Dahlberg said the organization was developing end-user guidelines and use cases to help create clarity around the assessed platforms.

"This will also provide users with information on how the tool applies in some industries and to different services and platforms."

The CAT framework is organized into eight performance categories spread over four service tiers, mapping operational parameter values against key criteria.

"This helps end-users to define and prioritize their own requirements and assess service providers' offers quickly and objectively," Dahlberg said.

It would also eliminate subjectivity and interpretation from the evaluation process for both service providers and application developers, he added.