The Open Cloud Manifesto: Controversy or Not

It seems like there is a lot of concern over the Open Cloud Manifesto. Some people are up in arms over the way things are being handled. Apparently, a number of people have offered up their time (and willingness to fly to NY) to help with this meeting and been flatly denied any possibility of a voice. One of the former “instigators” of the Cloud Computing Interoperability Forum (CCIF) has been temporarily banned (whatever that means) and has taken a pretty hard stance against the way things have been handled. Rueven also made a statement today with a bit of an apology.

The much-heralded “Open Cloud Manifesto” produced by the CCIF is nothing more than a few pages stating the obvious.

Sometimes, and this is one of those times, the obvious does need to be stated.

The manifesto is “intended to initiate a conversation that will bring together the emerging cloud computing community (both cloud users and cloud providers) around a core set of principles.”

Although Microsoft’s Steven Martin is right to protest that the process was not open enough, it should be noted that Microsoft will join the the group on Monday and participate in future discussions.

Amazon has decided it won’t play for now. We’ve alluded to the rivalry between Microsoft and IBM/Sun earlier on this blog, but now it seems like Amazon is taking umbrage as well.

It seems as though the process was not open enough, or inclusive enough (which is the one thing I am sure of at this point) which gives rise to the suspicion that the manifesto is driven by self interest of a few rather than the needs of the many.

Let’s look at the core set of principles set forth in the manifesto:

1. Cloud providers must work together to ensure that the challenges to cloud adoption (security, integration, portability, interoperability, governance/management, metering/monitoring) are addressed through open collaboration and the appropriate use of standards.

2. Cloud providers must not use their market position to lock customers into their particular platforms and limiting their choice of providers.

3. Cloud providers must use and adopt existing standards wherever appropriate. The IT industry has invested heavily in existing standards and standards organizations; there is no need to duplicate or reinvent them.

4. When new standards (or adjustments to existing standards) are needed, we must be judicious and pragmatic to avoid creating too many standards. We must ensure that standards promote innovation and do not inhibit it.

5. Any community effort around the open cloud should be driven by customer needs, not merely the technical needs of cloud providers, and should be tested or verified against real customer requirements.

6. Cloud computing standards organizations, advocacy groups, and communities should work together and stay coordinated, making sure that efforts do not conflict or overlap.

Nothing controversial here, except for IBM’s fingerprints on this site.

Earlier on this blog I wrote: Cloud Storage, like any other emerging technology, is experiencing growing pains. It is immature, it is fragmented and it lacks standardization. Vendors are promoting their particular technology as the emerging standard. While a standard doesn’t exist yet, we are confident that one will emerge soon. We believe that a set of Web Services API based capabilities, accessed via non persistent connections on public and/or private networks, provides the fundamental frame of reference and definition for cloud storage. The definition allows for both public service offerings and private (or enterprise) use, and provides a basis for expansion of solutions and offerings, versus a limitation.

Hopefully all of this back and forth will ultimately focus on more important topics, and we will make some progress. We are committed to two things, giving realistic input to promote standards which drive cloud adoption, and implementing these standards once they are agreed on. It will be far more productive to focus on these issues versus the intrigue and “spy versus spy” comedy that the current “Manifesto” launch is promoting.

If I could offer one complaint, it is this: if you want to achieve a standards-based approach, make it technical and philosophical if you like, but most of all, make it open and inclusive.

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