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The Open Cloud Manifesto

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A group of unknown authors have written an Open Cloud Manifesto endorsed by many companies and calling for open cloud computing. The document outlines 4 goals customers have and proposes 6 principles. The secrecy used to create the Manifesto has generated some unfriendly reactions around the web.

The Manifesto outlines the following goals for the clouds:

Choice – Organizations should be able to freely choose between different vendors.

Flexibility – Organizations should be able to cooperate even if they are using different clouds.

Speed and Agility – Organizations should be able to easily build solutions that integrate public and private clouds.

Skills – Organizations should be able to have access to people whose qualifications are not tied to a particular cloud.

The Manifesto proposes 6 basic principles for the open clouds of the future:

  1. Cloud providers must work together to ensure that the challenges to cloud adoption (security, integration, portability, interoperability, governance/management, metering/monitoring) are addressed through open collaboration and the appropriate use of standards. 
  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.
  4. When new standards (or adjustments to existing standards) are needed, we must be judicious and pragmatic to avoid creating too many standards. We must ensure that standards promote innovation and do not inhibit it. 
  5. Any community effort around the open cloud should be driven by customer needs, not merely the technical needs of cloud providers, and should be tested or verified against real customer requirements.
  6. Cloud computing standards organizations, advocacy groups, and communities should work together and stay coordinated, making sure that efforts do not conflict or overlap. 

The Manifesto is supported by many companies including: Akamai, AMD, AT&T, Cisco, The Eclipse Foundation, EMC, IBM, Juniper Networks, Novell, Open Cloud Consortium, Red Hat, SAP, Software AG, Sun, VMware. The major players missing: Amazon, Google, Microsoft and

In the meantime, Amazon did not endorse the manifesto but it is not throwing it away according to ZDNet. While has not signed the document yet, they have a positive attitude towards it:

We support the goals of cloud interoperability and look forward to working with the signatories as well as continuing to work with partners like Google, Amazon, and Facebook.  We believe that cloud platforms are and should always be more open than their legacy client-server antecedents, because that’s what is best for customers and the entire cloud ecosystem.

Microsoft has not reacted publicly, but Steve Martin, a Group Product Manager at Microsoft, expressed his discontent for the way the manifesto was drafted:

It appears to us that one company, or just a few companies, would prefer to control the evolution of cloud computing, as opposed to reaching a consensus across key stakeholders (including cloud users) through an “open” process. An open Manifesto emerging from a closed process is at least mildly ironic.

To ensure that the work on such a project is open, transparent and complete, we feel strongly that any "manifesto" should be created, from its inception, through an open mechanism like a Wiki, for public debate and comment, all available through a Creative Commons license. … 

In our view, large parts of the draft Manifesto are sensible.  Other parts arguably reflect the authors’ biases.  Still other parts are too ambiguous to know exactly what the authors intended. …

If there is a truly open, transparent, inclusive dialogue on cloud interoperability and standards principles, we are enthusiastically “in”.

Agreeing with Steve Martin’s critique of the Manifesto, Sam Johnston, Founder of Australian Online Solutions, has put up a wiki to facilitate the process of writing a new manifesto open to anyone this time. Commenting on the reason why the Manifesto was not accessible to the public from the beginning, the authors said:

This activity took only a few weeks and started as an idea with a small group. Then it expanded to include others as it became clear that this idea needed to be shared or formalized with the broader community. This is typical of any creative process no matter if it is writing a specification, or writing open source code. You start with something and then ask others to participate. Once we had something that seemed like a good start to a document, we decided that we would release under a creative commons license so that the broader community could build on it as they saw fit. However, the document resonated with a wide variety of players who wanted to participate or "sign-on" even though the document was ready to be released to the community.  So, we waited a couple of extra days to publish the document, at their request, so that these companies could work through their internal review processes and endorse it before it was released.

The Manifesto was released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License. Very little is known about the persons behind it, Reuven Cohen, Founder of Enomaly, being one of them according to his blog post and other sources. The dedicated Google Group lists only 15 members. We are waiting for their names to be revealed.

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