Open Cloud Manifesto: The concept looks good on paper, many say

After the much heralded Open Cloud Manifesto appeared on Monday, the Web-based document turned into a big topic of talk at this week's Cloud Computing Expo in New York City.

First initiated by Reuven Cohen, founder and chief technologist at Enomaly, the call for open standards in cloud computing soon got backing from IBM, along with EMC, Red Hat, SAP, the Open Group, VMWare, Intel, and numbers of other high profile participants.

But significant holdouts from signing the petition included cloud providers Microsoft, Amazon, Google, and

Some of the attendees at the Cloud Expo seemed to voice reservations. "We have signed the manifesto, and we're currently giving it further evaluation," said an EMC engineer, speaking with Betanews at the show.

But many applauded the exhortation to standardization in cloud technology, in theory, at least. "Standardization is like motherhood and apple pie," noted Thorsten von Eicken, RightScale's founder and CTO, who equated some of today's cloud architectures to the old "walled gardens" of Compuserve and AOL.

"Part of the value [of the Open Cloud Manifesto] is just to get the lack of interoperability out into the open. It's an issue that hasn't gotten much visibility," he said.

The cloud practitioners differed, though, in their predictions about how long it might take for cloud standards to take hold and carry much weight.

"There are already some proprietary protocols out there as de facto standards -- Microsoft's technology, for example. But it's early in the ball game yet. We're only in about the second inning," said Greg O'Connor, CEO of Appzero, in another interview.

Mark Yohal, VP of worldwide sales at the same company, hinted at greater success for future clouds standards than for Web services protocols, which got started rather late in the drive toward SOA (software-oriented architecture).

Others foresaw a long road ahead for cloud standardization. "Clearly there is a need for deep integration between the clouds of various providers. But I think it will take quite some time for that to happen," said Fred van den Bosch, CEO of Librato.

But even some of the partners of the holdouts pointed to merits of the manifesto. "It will be up to the big players to iron things out," observed Ranjith Ramakrishnan, CTO of Cumulux, a company with a mobile portal for both Amazon's EC2 and Microsoft's emerging Azure cloud platform.

"Then, everyone else can come in [and use the cloud standards] once it's all been settled."

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