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“Open Cloud Manifesto” or “Private Cloud Manifesto”?

by David M. Smith  |  March 28, 2009  |  6 Comments

I’ve been travelling this week visiting over a dozen companies talking about cloud computing. So while my mailbox and phone have been filling up and ringing off the hook with people asking me what my take is, I finally have time to write down my first thoughts on the subject.

Originally I was going to title this “as the manifesto turns” to describe the soap opera that appears to be unfolding around this coming Monday’s Open Cloud Manifesto announcement. And it will likely be the first of a likely series on what’s going on here. At first glance, this appears to be the usual publicity stunt and politicking that goes on as markets start to become important and vendors jockey for position. And that is certainly the case here (an example being the proactive ‘response’ from Microsoft), but there is, as usual, more behind the scenes. I have come to some conclusions based on the limited amount of concrete information available.

Having watched a lot of standards efforts over the years, I can make a generalization and say that they fall roughly into one of two broad categories:

1) Those that led by market leaders with products and/or specifications to try to establish as standards (this is not an example of this type)

2) Those led by those attempting to change the agenda and form political alliance and become market leaders.

Interestingly, nobody claims to want to be the ringleader here but from what I’ve seen there are two major constituencies here:

1) The private cloud crowd, led by IBM. The agenda here is to ensure that private cloud computing is part of the ongoing discussions around standards.

2) The smaller vendor crowd, an example being Enomoly, who stand to benefit from a level playing field when competing with large and/or established vendors.

In all cases, there are claims of customer interests and the good of the industry, etc. etc. While there is some legitimate interest in standards, make no mistake that all vendors act in their own (and shareholders’) interests (as they should) and that if those interests line up with those of users, then great. But none are just altruistic and looking out for their customers only as they claim.

Thus far, indications are that we will not see many public cloud focused vendors as part of this. Amazon appears to be out, Microsoft and Google are unlikely. Salesforce is a maybe but I wouldn’t bet on it. As usual with these types of announcements, last minute arm twisting is going on and there will not be a final list until Monday. So there is a lot of uncertainty and speculation about who’s in and who’s out. But in and out of what, exactly? There is nothing here but vacuous statements.

There are wildcards though. Microsoft is not completely disinterested, nor is Google in principle. In fact, if Google did participate it would be a signal that its relationship with IBM was strengthening.

While this could lead to a more formal organization and some real progress, what I’ve seen so far points towards a very amorphous thing, even by cloud standards. Thus far, it appears to be primarily a publicity stunt and the usual standards politicking.

I expect to see Monday’s announcement participants to be dominated by vendors who are focused more on private and enterprise oriented cloud strategies. If so, then this would mean that this primarily a ‘private cloud manifesto’.

We’ll see Monday. Stay tuned.

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David Mitchell Smith
VP & Gartner Fellow
16 years at Gartner
30 years IT industry

David Mitchell Smith is a vice president and Gartner Fellow in Gartner Research, where he specializes in the impact of catalytic technologies such as the Internet, Web 2.0, cloud computing and consumer technologies. Read Full Bio

Thoughts on “Open Cloud Manifesto” or “Private Cloud Manifesto”?

  1. Nick Gall says:


    The set of core Web standards (HTTP, HTML, and URL) doesn’t seem to fall into either category. Does it?

    Also, the link you provide is NOT to the actual draft manifesto. You can find a link to the PDF here: .

  2. Nick,

    thanks for providing the link.

    as for the categorizations, i meant it to be of vendor driven standards efforts. as for the core web standards, they arent driven that way, but part of the original web, mostly. but there are other types of standards that come as a result of open source and de facto use as well, i was just trying to classify vendor driven initiatives.


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  4. Sam Johnston says:

    Although I’d already pointed out that there were half a dozen references to the private cloud fringe theory in the leaked manifesto, now that the embargo has lifted an old version (1.0.4) has appeared and the revision history is revealing.

    As it turns out, not only were standards provisions neutered and advantages trimmed back to allow for “I can’t believe it’s not cloud” wares, but the definition was revised accordingly.

    All in all it seems we were right in that it is a “Private Cloud Manifesto” – but any catalyst that gets the ball rolling is fine by me.


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  6. Chris says:

    I’d have to say that IBM is playing dirty here… Reuven seems to be in their back pocket!

    What a joke!

    You are right to call it “private cloud manifesto” !

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