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Cloud Manifesto Lacks Thunder

The Open Cloud Manifesto was formally introduced today, an anticlimactic and even embarrassing attempt to rally the computer industry around cloud computing interoperability.

The Open Cloud Manifesto was formally introduced today, an anticlimactic and even embarrassing attempt to rally the computer industry around cloud computing interoperability.By now, the Manifesto needs no introduction. As IBM's PR team last week tried to put me under embargo (I declined), the six-page document was being leaked to the Web. As I noted three days ago, it was one of the tech industry's worst kept secrets.

In the past three days, a lot has happened. Google was rumored to be a support of the Manifesto, but its name is missing from, the Web site established to promote the effort. The Cloud Computing Interoperability Forum, an early proponent of the Manifesto, bailed out, citing a lack of openness in the process of creating it. Other big players missing from the Manifesto include Amazon, Hewlett-Packard, Microsoft, Oracle, and Salesforce.

So, who did come out in support of the Manifesto and its principles for promoting an open cloud? More than three dozen companies, including AT&T, Cisco, EMC, IBM, SAP, Sun, and VMware.

To repeat myself (again), the Manifesto is a worthy goal, and the lineup of companies behind it is impressive. But four of the biggest names in the cloud - Amazon, Google, Microsoft, and Salesforce - are missing from the Manifesto, setting up an us-versus-them scenario, which is exactly what the Manifesto tried to avoid. In that regard, along with the mishandled communications leading up to its release (embargos, leaks, inaccurate rumors, a shot across the bow by Microsoft), the Manifesto lacks the impact it sought to create.

Where do we go from here? I'm not convinced the computer industry needs a cloud interoperability Manifesto. Everyone already agrees that interoperability is desirable, indeed a necessity; the question is how we get from here to there.

Cloud interoperability will result from the same Darwinian process that drives interoperability in other parts of the computer industry--popular technologies and APIs rise to the top, users seek ways to get platforms and services to work together, vendors (sometimes with arms twisted) work toward making that happen, and standards groups usher the process along where and when needed.

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