James StatenThe Open Cloud Manifesto, backed by its thirty-six firms that signed on with its debut, outlines core value propositions, points out challenges, sets goals, and then lists several principles of what an open cloud should accomplish. Until now, there has been no real attempt to define or restrict the term or use of the term “cloud”, but it’s hard to view this effort as highly credible when many of the early cloud leaders did not sign onto it. Most glaringly absent are Amazon, Google, Microsoft, and salesforce.com. Why aren’t all vendors signing onto this manifesto?

Well, one such reason given by Microsoft was their discomfort of being asked to sign the document “as is” without any chance for input. Forrester analyst Frank Gillett interviewed Microsoft and IBM shortly afterward and found out a more detailed story behind this disagreement:

  • The “cloud” term is limiting, especially for meaningful mass communication since it currently encompasses so many services.
  • The Manifesto’s idealism is worthy, but not a useful guide for strategy.
  • The value of some cloud service offerings will come directly from being closed, not open.

For IT ops professionals the goal of the manifesto is a good one as no enterprise wants their applications or their data to be locked into any more proprietary platforms than we already have and clearly a set of extensions beyond the existing web services clouds leveraged today are warranted. But the timing of this may be a bit premature. The cloud market is very early in its development and vendors are innovating in both technology offerings and business models and until these settle into relatively consistent practices, standards simply cannot be set. However, this manifesto marks the first step towards the future of the cloud and defining what exactly the term would include or exclude.

IT Ops professionals should not sit idly by and let the vendor community define the standards and the offerings and determine where openness is warranted. Get involved by letting cloud vendors know where interoperability is most important to you and where you want better openness and APIs and where standardized interfaces make the most sense.

By James Staten

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