'Open Cloud Manifesto?' Just Stop! - InformationWeek

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Commentary
4/13/2009
07:09 AM
David Linthicum
David Linthicum
Commentary
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'Open Cloud Manifesto?' Just Stop!

The "Open Cloud Manifesto" proposes rules for cloud computing, including the use of open standards. I found it to be more about "motherhood, apple pie, and open standards," with no concrete detail in the document that would lead to anything of value. Here are the three problems with this document...

I'm not sure if you've been paying attention to the cloud computing news over the last few weeks, but the most recent dust-up and silliness came from IBM and a few others, and it's centered around this "Open Cloud Manifesto."

The "Open Cloud Manifesto" proposes rules for cloud computing, including the use of open standards. I found it to be more about "motherhood, apple pie, and open standards," with no concrete anything in the document that would lead to anything of value. In essence it was a mission statement, or, at best, an opinion piece. We have plenty of those already.The controversy centers around the fact that significant players in cloud computing are missing as signatories to this manifesto, including Google, Salesforce.com, Microsoft and Amazon.com. These titans complained that they did not have a chance to develop the document, and thus refused to sign it. This led to the document being leaked by Microsoft, and then the fun began. I just sat back and watched the show, refusing to participate in the blog-back-and-forth that seems to be a common pattern in cloud computing these days.

The genesis of what those in the IT press now refer to as "Manifesto-gate," was the fact that we lack standards in the world of cloud computing, and that caused many to push back on this emerging space. Therefore, a bunch of companies got together and wrote up an eight-page document that says "We love openness," in hopes that the gates would open and cloud computing adopters would come streaming in. It does not work that way.

At the end of the day, I'm sure the authors and signatories of the "Open Cloud Manifesto" did this with the best of intentions. However, they ended up with a PR nightmare because they did three major things wrong. First, they used the word "manifesto." Second, you can't state an intention without the details. Finally, they didn't let end users drive the proposal.

Manifestos are nothing new; I've been dealing with them since I started in IT. The core notion is that my ideas count and yours don't, and what I say is the way it should be. At least, that's the impression I get. I recall manifestos issued around relational database technology in the late '80s and around other topical IT trends. The trouble is, manifestos have the opposite of the desired effect, serving to polarize rather than bring together. This manifesto was no different.

The lack of detail is a glaring issue where this cloud computing manifesto is concerned. It's one thing to say "we desire to be open," but another thing entirely to provide the details as to how we're going to be open. People like using open technology because it protects their IT investments. However, the devil is in the details. What mechanisms will we leverage to maintain this openness, and how will we get there over time? Lacking those details, statements of openness are worthless.

Finally, the vendors are driving this manifesto, and not the people who have to make cloud computing work in their enterprises. In order for openness to be a reality, vendors and end users need to work together. I see this document as more of a manifestation of marketing department thinking within cloud computing providers than a true, collaborative movement toward openness.

This Open Cloud Manifesto is not a good thing for the emerging cloud computing space. Hopefully we'll get a clue, and get to work on solving some real problems.The "Open Cloud Manifesto" proposes rules for cloud computing, including the use of open standards. I found it to be more about "motherhood, apple pie, and open standards," with no concrete detail in the document that would lead to anything of value. Here are the three problems with this document...

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