Manifesto pits cloud haves vs. have-nots

When is a call to open cloud computing not so open? When the biggest cloud OS players--Google, Amazon, Salesforce.com and Microsoft--aren't a key part of the process. And that's just what happened when IBM and its partners published their Open Cloud Manifesto.

The idea behind the manifesto is a good one. As cloud computing begins to take off, IBM and the other signatories behind the manifesto say their aim is to ensure that it stays open enough for customers to migrate from one vendor's cloud offering to another or choose to move from the cloud and back to inhouse computing seamlessly and easily.

But while the manifesto professes to support openness, in places, it looks more like an effort to ensure that big name companies in enterprise IT today don't get left behind as their customers migrate to the cloud. A quick review of the manifesto's signatories show that many big names in enterprise computing signed on: IBM, Cisco, EMC, Juniper, Sun, F5, VMware, etc. In the manifesto's "Principles for an Open Cloud," they outline that:

2. Cloud providers must not use their market position to lock customers into their particular platforms and limit their choice of providers.
3. Cloud providers must use and adopt existing standards wherever appropriate. The IT industry has invested heavily in existing standards and standards organizations; there is no need to duplicate or reinvent them.

In other words, early players who bet on the cloud and already have products (that may be based on new, proprietary technologies) shouldn't have an unfair advantage. No wonder none of the cloud heavyweights signed on. As ZDNet's Larry Dignam writes:

It is far too early to sign off on a manifesto when the cloud is still in its infancy. If roles were reversed and IBM had a fledgling cloud OS—say based on Tivoli—would Big Blue have signed off on its own manifesto this early in the game?

Not by a long shot. In reality, cloud computing's evolution won't be determined by some vendors signing onto a manifesto, but instead on what actual enterprise customers choose to support and buy. So what do you think? Should cloud computing be based on a group of emerging standards, like those from Amazon, Google and Salesforce.com, or should cloud computing somehow adhere to current, established IT standards and practices already in evidence in inhouse corporate data centers? And why can't it support both?

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