Zend Technologies, in association with IBM, Microsoft and others, has launched the Simple API for Cloud Application Services project, an open-source initiative that enables developers to use common application services in the cloud, while enabling them to unlock value-added features available from individual providers.
Zend Technologies, in association with IBM,
Microsoft and others, has launched the Simple
API for Cloud Application Services project
, a new open-source initiative
that enables developers to use common application services in the cloud, while
enabling them to unlock value-added features available from individual
Zend officials said the Simple Cloud
aims to facilitate the development of cloud applications that
can access services on all major cloud platforms. Zend, IBM, Microsoft,
Nirvanix, Rackspace and GoGrid are co-founding contributors to this community
project. However, cloud giants such as Amazon and Google are not.
Cloud API project empowers developers
to use one interface to interact with
a variety of cloud application services, enabling them to more easily access
new technologies from cloud vendors, said Dirk Nicol, director of emerging
technology in IBM's Software Group.
"Today developers have to write to a proprietary API,
but with this Simple API you'll have a
common API that would work across vendors,"
Nicol said. "It's about portability and avoiding vendor lock-in. And this
supports both public and private clouds."
The first deliverables will include interfaces for file storage, document
database and simple queue services from platforms like Amazon Web Services,
Windows Azure, Nirvanix Storage Delivery Network and Rackspace Cloud
Files. As a result, developers can deploy software applications to access
services in these environments without making time-consuming and expensive
changes to their source code.
"The Simple Cloud API, to me, is a
logical next step toward ensuring an acceptable level of interoperability
between cloud applications and environments," said Stephen O'Grady, an analyst
with RedMonk. "While it's true that API
proliferation is becoming a significant source of concern to customers and
third-party service providers, this effort has done an admirable job of
crossing party lines to put together a working coalition. If it's adopted
widely, it could be a substantial complement to lower-level, management-oriented
"Cloud computing offers irresistible value to enterprises of all sizes, but
the lack of portability across cloud application services for even the most
basic operations has been an impediment to broader adoption of cloud services,"
said Andi Gutmans, CEO at Zend Technologies,
in a statement.
"The Simple Cloud API combines the
benefits of open-source community processes with the active participation of
the cloud vendors themselves," Gutmans added. "With early participation
and support from industry leaders and the Zend Framework community, we
anticipate that this important project will continue to grow, serving a wide
range of application developers and businesses building modern Web applications
for the cloud."
The Simple Cloud API project is designed
to encourage widespread participation and contributions from the open-source
community, resulting in the availability of Simple Cloud API
adapters for virtually all major cloud providers.
Although led by Zend, the largest corporate contributor to the PHP
programming language, the Simple Cloud API
can be translated to any object-oriented language for the Web. The PHP
implementation will be available in the widely adopted open-source Zend Framework
project as a new component, called "Zend Cloud." PHP developers can take
advantage of this new component to utilize existing client libraries available
in Zend Framework in a uniform way.
"We've been trying to bring a community together around uses cases for cloud
computing," Nicol said. "One of the important points is to really be open. So
we've put together the Simple API. I expect
there will be more APIs, more capabilities, more functionality, more
participants and possibly other languages [in addition to PHP]."
Zend Cloud adapters will be available for services such as:
File storage services,
including Windows Azure blobs, Rackspace Cloud Files, Nirvanix Storage Delivery
Network and Amazon S3
Document storage services,
including Windows Azure tables and Amazon SimpleDB
Simple queue services,
including Amazon SQS and Windows Azure queues.
Zend Cloud will also provide adapters for local services to make offline
coding and testing against cloud services as easy as connected development,
Zend officials said.
Other adapters, such as those for Rackspace Cloud Files API,
will work with external libraries with no changes to application code.
Microsoft is also contributing Simple Cloud API
adapters, along with the official PHP client libraries for Windows Azure
storage, to future versions of Zend Framework. These adapters will allow
applications to take advantage of many Windows Azure features through the
Simple Cloud API interface, while
Microsoft's client libraries will put Windows Azure innovations, such as
transaction and partial upload support, at the fingertips of cloud application
"Microsoft is pleased to continue to work with Zend and join efforts with
other contributors to this project," said Doug Hauger, general manager for
Microsoft Windows Azure, in a statement. "The Simple Cloud API
is an example of Microsoft's continued investment in the openness and
interoperability of its platform. We're excited to see how this project will
foster adoption of cloud computing platforms by PHP developers and hope that
many of these developers are encouraged to use Windows Azure."
Kristof Kloeckner, CTO of IBM
Cloud Computing, said he sees this effort as a significant step toward a more
open and interoperable cloud. "The Simple Cloud API
will enable developers to invoke cloud services in a common way across cloud
providers," he said. "This can significantly reduce the costs for
application development and provide customer choice. To that end, IBM
will be contributing adapters for IBM's
cloud service interfaces, as well as adapters to IBM's
data storage products, allowing developers to easily switch between public
clouds, private clouds and traditional data center environments."
Lew Moorman, chief strategy officer and president of the Rackspace Cloud,
added: "We're proud to be part of any initiative that delivers more value to
developers in the cloud. Our contributions to the Simple Cloud API
are part of our ongoing effort to bring the unique value of open-source
software to the cloud. Many of our customers use PHP as their Web application
language of choice, and we believe that these developers should be able to
choose which cloud services are the best fit for them through interfaces that
they can help define."
"It's great to see the cloud standards gaggle working on application-centric
APIs," said Michael Cote, an analyst with RedMonk. "Thus far, most of the focus
has been on the infrastructure layer, which has been much needed, of course.
Ultimately, though, clouds are going to have to cater to application
development. There are many PAAS [platform-as-a-service]
platforms that do this, and folks can code to each cloud's API
out there. But, the idea of trying to get a common API
layer for application developers is attractive."
Key to this effort, Cote added, "will be getting a
steady stream of cloud providers and traditional middleware folks to sign on-to
not only agree on common APIs but provide the implementations and mappings for
those APIs to each platform. Having IBM and
Microsoft along with Zend and the other initial members is good. It's a nice
signal to see those folks working together."
An initial Simple Cloud API proposal and
reference implementation is available now for community review and
participation at http://www.simplecloudapi.org
Developers can also evaluate the Simple API
for Cloud Application Services by deploying their applications that use it on
the Amazon cloud using the freely available Zend Server Community Edition
Amazon Machine Image (AMI) for EC2.
Zend Technologies also offers a Zend Server AMI
that is commercially supported. A technology preview of the PHP client
libraries for Windows Azure can be viewed and downloaded from http://framework.zend.com/Zend_Service_WindowsAzure