Battle Brewing Over Open Cloud Manifesto

There’s been a lot of hype surrounding cloud computing lately. Considering all of the great things cloud computing claims to offer, there should be no surprise many of the big tech players are looking to get a piece of the puzzle. The trouble is these companies can’t seem to agree on cloud standards.

Several companies are currently working together on a so-called "Open Cloud Manifesto." These companies plan to release a copy of the document on Monday. The purpose of the manifesto is to lay out the standards and practices that should be adhered to in the delivery of cloud computing environments. However, not all of the big tech players are involved in the writing of this manifesto.

In the cloud standards battle, you’ll find Microsoft and Amazon on one side and IBM and a host of other companies on the other side. While the concept of creating standards and practices sounds fine and dandy, some companies disagree about the implementation. In fact, Steven Martin, Microsoft’s senior director of developer platform management, tore into the Cloud Manifesto in a blog post. In a nutshell, Martin said Microsoft was disappointed by the lack of openness in the development of the Cloud Manifest and felt the document was designed to benefit its authors. He went on to say Microsoft would welcome a truly open, transparent, inclusive dialogue on cloud interoperability and standards principles.

Cloud Computing High-Level Diagram, Courtesy: Wikipedia

Microsoft’s main complaints about the manifesto seem to surround timing and approach. In all fairness, Martin’s point that the cloud market is still immature and relevant standards need time to develop is correct. History shows us the technology comes first and the industry standards generally follow. With regards to approach, Martin cites a “lack of openness” in the drafting of the document and even says that Microsoft was told it was a secret and that must be signed "as is" without modifications or additional input. 

Microsoft isn’t alone in its opposition to the Cloud Manifesto. A day after Martin’s post, Amazon appeared to say “no thanks” to the manifesto as well, basically saying it was too early to be tossing a manifesto around about cloud computing standards.

Martin’s post drew a good amount of comment from various camps. From the reaction of both Microsoft and Amazon, it appears we may have a good old fashioned standards battle that’s about to begin. With two big heavyweights (Microsoft and Amazon) clearly on one side of this argument, one has to wonder who’s on the other side. InfoWorld claims IBM is the driving force behind the Open Cloud Manifesto. Other companies that have been mentioned (but not confirmed) as supporters include Intel, Google, Cisco, Oracle, Sun Microsystems, and Red Hat.

Regardless of who is on which side, a call to action for cloud openness is merely a starting point. The actual process of figuring out and declaring standards and getting the industry to implement them will be a much harder task.