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3/27/2009
05:27 PM
John Foley
John Foley
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Open Cloud Manifesto Revealed

The Open Cloud Manifesto, not surprisingly, has leaked out. Though its formal publication isn't due until March 30, the document seems to be one of the tech industry's worst kept secrets.

The Open Cloud Manifesto, not surprisingly, has leaked out. Though its formal publication isn't due until March 30, the document seems to be one of the tech industry's worst kept secrets.I got the manifesto from Geva Perry's Thinking Out Cloud blog. Geva says he got the document, which is supposedly under embargo, from four different sources with no strings attached. You can view it (draft 1.0.9) here.

So, what is the Open Cloud Manifesto? The six-page document defines cloud computing, lays out the challenges and barriers to adoption (security, interoperability, app portability, etc.), and outlines the goals of an open cloud. Not much to argue about there.

The manifesto concludes with six "principles of an open cloud," and it's this part of the document, I assume, that got Microsoft's dander up. It's here that the manifesto authors present their demands of cloud vendors. A sampling: "Cloud providers must work together to ensure the challenges to cloud adoption are addressed through open collaboration and the appropriate use of standards. Cloud providers must not use their market position to lock customers into their particular platforms. Cloud providers must use and adopt existing standard where appropriate." And so on.

You have to admire the spirit of the Open Cloud Manifesto; its intentions are good. The risks of cloud vendor lock-in are real, and industry commitment to an "open cloud" is a worthy goal.

But the manifesto is getting off to a rocky start for several reasons, and Microsoft's rejection of it is just one of them. Over on a Cloud Computing Interoperability Forum discussion thread, some observers feel left out of the process of drafting it. "There is nothing open about the Open Cloud Manifesto," writes one person. "It's an industry alliance or an attempt at it."

Other problems, as I pointed out in a post yesterday, include potential conflicts of interest and a cart-before-the-horse situation where standards compliance is being mandated even though cloud technology is in the early stages of development. What's more, telling cloud vendors--Amazon, Google, Microsoft--that they "must work together" or "must use and adopt existing standards" is a non-starter. Good luck with that.

To be fair, we don't yet have the full story on the Open Cloud Manifesto. We need to see it in its final form and hear from its authors and supporters. The biggest question in my mind is the degree to which IT pros and other users are involved. The questions will soon be answered. The manifesto will be formally presented on Monday.

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