The Open Cloud Manifesto Debuts

By Darryl K. Taft  |  Posted 2009-03-30 Print this article Print

The much ballyhooed Open Cloud Manifesto, as of March 30, is now officially out and supported primarily by IBM and a host of other companies, including Sun Microsystems, VMware, Cisco, EMC, Red Hat, Novell, and Juniper Networks. Other supporters include AT&T, Aptana, Engine Yard, Enomaly, and the Object Management Group. However, conspicuous by their absence are Microsoft, Google, Amazon and Salesforce.

The much ballyhooed Open Cloud Manifesto, as of March 30, is now officially out and supported primarily by IBM and a host of other companies, including Sun Microsystems, VMware, Cisco, EMC, Red Hat, Novell, and Juniper Networks.

However, conspicuous by their absence in the effort to set the direction for the future of cloud computing are Microsoft, Google,, and the Cloud Computing Interoperability Forum (CCIF). Microsoft, Google, Amazon and Salesforce probably hold a great deal of real-world cloud computing sway and are too central to the conversation to be left out.

The entire list of Open Cloud Manifesto Supporters can be found at However, the list of Open Cloud Manifesto supporters includes: IBM, Sun Microsystems, VMware, AT&T, Telefonica, Cisco, EMC, SAP, AMD, Elastra, rPath, Juniper Networks, Red Hat, Hyperic, Akamai, Novell, Sogeti, Rackspace, RightScale, GoGrid, Aptana, CastIron, EngineYard, The Eclipse Foundation, SOASTA, F5, LongJump, North Carolina State University, Enomaly, Nirvanix, the Object Management Group (OMG), Computer Science Corporation, Boomi, and RESERVOIR.

According to its organizers, the Open Cloud Manifesto "is meant to start a conversation around standards and help clients ask the right questions about cloud interoperability. This document is not a contract with vendors or a position on what standards should be. It is directed to opening an important discussion as clouds incorporate into business and society. You can draw a parallel between cloud today and the Web in the mid '90s when Prodigy and CompuServe had their own proprietary neighbors on the Web. Back then, people were just starting to ask if it were possible for things to be open and interoperate. This is just the beginning."

In a blog post from March 26, Steven Martin, Microsoft's senior director of developer platform management, questioned the manifesto, saying it showed bias. Later, when the document began to leak, many observers wondered why Martin and Microsoft objected to what some called an innocuous document. Martin countered, calling the document "vacuous." He also questioned the issue of governance of the organization that would be in charge of maintaining any standards or practices put forth regarding the future of cloud computing.

"Who will manage this effort and determine who is in compliance?" Martin asked. "If the answer is IBM, I have significant concerns about that."

Sources said the OMG has offered to provide that governance role and is being seriously considered to take over the responsibility. The OMG has run several standards efforts and is totally vendor-neutral and has no interest in ownership or gaining anything from any deliverables resulting from the effort.

Indeed, many appear to have concerns about IBM taking a leadership role in establishing an organization that champions the cloud when some believe IBM has no coherent cloud strategy or offering of its own. However, despite not being quick to provide a cloud offering for developers, IBM has run what amounts to vast cloud computing operations for years for its own research and for various Big Blue customers.

Said one observer at one of the holdout companies, "These guys calling for standards are doing so out of their own self-interest. They're behind in the cloud computing game, so they're using standards to slow things down until they can catch up. Standards have no place in a nascent market like this. The cloud computing market could very well be 180 degrees different in 6-12 months. Who knows?"

Meanwhile, despite the early hoopla about the manifesto and who is supporting it, the effort is a step in the right direction. And it is expected that the big-name holdouts will come to the table in some form to have open discussions about the topic. Indeed, Microsoft is sending Andrew Layman, a veteran of standards bodies and standards wars, to represent the company at a meeting in New York to coincide with the Cloud Computing Expo that opens March 30. And the CCIF is holding its Wall Street Cloud Computing Interoperability Forum on April 2, where there will be more room for discussion. 

Darryl K. Taft covers the development tools and developer-related issues beat from his office in Baltimore. He has more than 10 years of experience in the business and is always looking for the next scoop. Taft is a member of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) and was named 'one of the most active middleware reporters in the world' by The Middleware Co. He also has his own card in the 'Who's Who in Enterprise Java' deck.

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