Facebook Aids in Open Cloud

Facebook creates software that may allow great leaps in Cloud interoperability

Facebook Developers
After countless hours of lost productivity to Facebook at work, the developers made up for it by offering the Cloud computing community something to build upon. Facebook created a software framework called Thrift, now a project of the Apache Incubator, which allows cross language service deployment. Referred to by Apache as “A software stack with a code generation engine to build services that work efficiently and seamlessly between C++, Java, Python, PHP, Ruby, Erlang, Perl, Haskell, C#, Cocoa, Smalltalk, and Ocaml”

Of the countless debates about Cloud Computing the one that concerns everyone is interoperability. While no one wants to be locked in to a provider due to proprietary software, providers worry about being able to remain competitive and agile through means other than price. Thrift may be a possibility to satisfy both sides of the argument.

Thrift will soon be tested by the Open Cloud Consortium (OCC) in their Open Cloud Testbed. Thrift could provide developers with a product for communicating between the different middle wear applications provided by different Cloud providers. This to me seems to make more sense than some of the standards people are discussing now. Standards can a lot of times be limiting and less agile. If Cloud services providers could build their services and a protocol be used to communicate between them, it is unlikely that companies will be locked down to a provider due to proprietary software.

In my opinion, one of the great abilities that Cloud Computing brings to the arena is that the best developers are creating some great applications in the Cloud. However, if a little while later someone does them one better, you can move on without having to consider ROI for expensive licensing already purchased. The key to this however is portability of data. Enter Open Standards.

Although Google and others have expressed their support behind Open Source standards in cloud computing, Amazon has been a little wearier of the standards bodies that have been created so far. Company spokesman Andrew Herdener in the past wrote that Amazon is "open to the idea [of creating a cloud computing standard] if we can do so in such a way that enables us to continue innovating quickly and delivering on [our] focus for our customers." If Thrift can support all commonly used programming languages, I think this could provide a seamless integration when moving to or from a cloud provider.

Thrift is available for download at Apache’s site along with Tutorials and examples. It has already been widely deployed within Facebook.  Facebook’s deleoper site says that if you have ever used Facebook, then you have used Thrift. As it turns out, Facebook is a large developer and supporter of a lot of Open Source projects. Who knew?

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