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The Cloud Gets More Open, But Can You Have Too Much Open?

Yet another open group clouds the picture

OK get your scorecards out this could get confusing. Today it was announced that a new open cloud group was launched at OSCON. It is called the Open Cloud Initiative. The group is a “non-profit organization established to advocate open standards in cloud computing”. The OCI is modeled after the Open Source Initiative that helped define OSS and OSI accepted licenses.

The OCI says their purpose is “to provide a legal framework within which the greater cloud computing community of users and providers can reach consensus on a set of requirements for Open Cloud, as described in the Open Cloud Principles (OCP) document, and then apply those requirements to cloud computing products and services, again by way of community consensus.”

This is all fine and dandy and sounds grand. But consider this. In addition to the OCI, we also have the OCC (Open Cloud Consortium). The OCC 

• Manages cloud computing infrastructure to support scientific research, such as the Open Science Data Cloud.

• Manages cloud computing testbeds, such as the Open Cloud Testbed.

• Develop reference implementations, benchmarks and standards, such as the MalStone Benchmark.

• Sponsors workshops and other events related to cloud computing.

The OCC is made up of some major government contractors, agencies and other large corporations.

There is also OpenStack, the open source cloud platform originally started by NASA and Rackspace, but now a major force in cloud computing with lots of major corporate sponsors and contributors. Don’t forget the CSA, the Cloud Security Alliance which shepherds several open cloud projects including Cloud Audit. Then there are companies developing open source cloud software like Cloud.com (Citrix now), Eucalyptus Systems, etc.

Confused yet? It seems when it comes to the cloud, open is breaking out all over. But is that a good thing? Can we have too much open in the cloud?

The cloud is different than open source software. In the OSS world we had software and it was licensed. The source code to the software and the license was what determined if it was open. But in the cloud the picture is much more, well, cloudier. Cloud is not just software, it is services, it is software consumed by users not even knowing they consumed it. This all gets very confusing.

From the confusion point of view I guess this will all shake out over time. Those groups and movements that make sense and add value will grow, those that don’t will fall by the way side. Call open cloud Darwinism.

Beyond the confusion angle can we be too open? Where is the special sauce that will give one cloud provider an edge over the other? Will we have a Linux or worse a Unix cloud provider ecosystem splintered in to so many shards that no one will gain critical mass? In Linux, Red Hat certainly set their mark and Ubuntu and Suse seem to have earned a place. Will we see a few leaders emerge in the cloud? If I was betting, OpenStack seems to be the early smart bet. Now of course I realize that all of these groups have different charters and play in different worlds. But to the average IT person or worse the non-IT person it is just going to seem like one open mish-mash.

I am all for open clouds and for open in general, but having fewer, stronger open cloud groups I think would be better for everyone.

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