Open Source Cloud APIs Vie For Dominance

It is still way early in the game, but the stakes are high for which API will rule the clouds

With Cloud Computing being the biggest thing on the technology horizon, there is a huge race shaping up over which API will allow clouds to talk to each other. Like many other sectors in tech, the open source community has several hats in this ring, any one of which could wind up the winner. This much is sure, one of the biggest inhibitors to wider cloud adoption is a lack of standards from one cloud provider to another. So a unifying standard that all cloud providers follow is seen as a trigger point to even greater cloud adoption.

However, at least according to Steve Lesem, CEO and President of cloud storage provider, Mezeo, it more likely that it will be a combination of several that will survive and thrive.  Lesem also says it is way too early in this game to determine who the favorites even are.

I had a chance to sit down and chat with Steve as part of my open network podcast. You can listen to our 20 minute conversation below:

By way of background, lets look at the different open source contenders:

1. Amazon Web Services via Eucalyptus Systems - AWS's API is not in and of itself open source. However, Eucalyptus which just released version 2.0 of its software is an open core /open source type of company. It is seeking to make its "open standard" they standard that everyone follows. Because it works with AWS, which they argue is already the standard in the cloud, the Eucalyptus team thinks this is a no brainer. They also claim thousands of users that are already making the product a de facto standard.

2. Rackspace and OpenStack - Not content to stand on the sidelines and watch Amazon dominate, Rackspace has set out to claim its share of the cloud pie.  Teaming up with NASA (who dissed Eucalyptus in doing so) they have sponsored the open source CloudStack. Intel, Dell and Citrix are also sponsoring this initiative. It is based on the Rackspace cloud architecture with some NASA contributions from its Nebula Cloud Platform.  While open source, OpenStack is under the control of Rackspace.

3. and cloudstack- the folks at have also released version 2.0 of their open source cloud builder as well. They hope that it will rival Eucalyptus and are not dependent on the Amazon API but instead could ride on top of whatever APIs and standards emerge.

4. Red Hat's DeltaCloud - Red Hat recently threw their hat (it's red of course) into the ring too. Their DeltaCloud  platform could be used to move cloud-based workloads among different providers, such as Amazon and Rackspace. What's more recognizing that no one company should control such an important standard they have submitted DeltaCloud to the Apache Foundation/Apache Incubator. They have also submitted DeltaCloud (I am sorry but every time I hear DeltaCloud I think of Delta House from Animal House), to the Distributed Management Task Force to oversee it as a standard.  

You have to admire Red Hat for taking these steps to truly position DeltaCloud as an independent standard. Other companies that supposedly have lined up behind it are: Cisco, Dell, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Ingres and Intel.

So it seems like some of the big players are lining up behind more than one of these open source APIs to cover their bets. Probably a smart move on their part.

According to Steve Lesem, whose Mezeo Software is a player in the cloud storage market, it is so early in the game right now, that the ultimate standard may not even have shown itself yet. However, Steve thinks it is more likely that these open APIs will grow closer over time and at the end of the day there may not be a big difference between them. In fact Steve says even now something written for one of these APIs could be made to run on another API with little or now work even.  Lesem says we may not see a single API dominate. Not anytime soon anyway.  

But that hasn't stopped some big players from throwing their hat into the ring. The contest for whose API is bigger will go on for some time.  It is good to see that it appears whichever standard emerges an open API will be the winner.

Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.

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