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Karl Marx Would Be Proud

By Tom Bittman | March 30, 2009 | 3 Comments


karl and cloud2But cloud computing doesn’t need a revolution – capitalism will lead the evolution of cloud computing.

With only a few word changes, the opening of the Communist Manifesto could be easily inserted into the Open Cloud Manifesto, announced March 30, 2009: 

A spectre is haunting the cloud – the spectre of openness and standards. Amazon, Google, Microsoft and have entered into a holy alliance to exorcise this spectre…”

This essentially describes the fear and the motivations behind the supporters of the Open Cloud Manifesto. Supported by a number of vendors who do not have a major cloud presence, including Cisco, EMC, IBM, Sun Microsystems and VMware. Not supported by vendors who already have a major cloud presence, notably Amazon, Google, Microsoft and Notice a trend?

The manifesto is simple and straightforward – so simple that the six “Principles of an Open Cloud” can be summarized as “Don’t use market position to lock-in customers, and drive cloud adoption through standards and collaboration directed toward customer needs, not provider needs.” In other words, stop building cloud services and stealing our customers until we get our act together to build cloud-based solutions for them.

Clearly the principles laid out in the manifesto are noble ones, and worthy of pursuit. But we’ve seen this play before. Vendor successfully creates a new market space, competitors cry foul and demand open standards and interoperability. “We want some of your customers!” The only difference with cloud computing is this is all taking place very, very quickly.

In the end – sorry Karl – capitalism will lead the evolution of cloud computing. It starts with innovators who pave the way. Let Amazon, Google, Microsoft and build their proprietary cloud computing services. We need pioneers before we need standards.

As this market matures, customers will demand interoperability, portability, and federation with enterprise private cloud services. It is in the interests of newcomers to the cloud computing market to work together. The longer standards for cloud provider interoperability do not exist, the longer the entrenched cloud computing innovators will own the market.

So I have no problem with the Open Cloud Manifesto. It’s driven by capitalism – and in the end, the market will benefit. But don’t expect much soon, and don’t expect Amazon, Google, Microsoft or to jump on board anytime soon. In fact, I’m sure they will be bashing the Manifesto and standards efforts for quite some time.

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  • Well said Tom!

    It should be noted that this “manifesto” (is that Latin for press release) uses more space trying to define cloud computing (interesting given so many supporters do not, as you point out, have a major presence there) and highlighting its problems than it actually does in articulating the “principles of an open cloud.” This looks more like a strategy to damn today’s cloud computing providers through faint praise.

    But based on their “principles of an open cloud,” I’d love to hear some details from the supporters of this proposal on why the current crop of cloud computing solutions is not open relative to the traditional solutions on offer by these very same vendors. Or perhaps they’re all expecting a level of openness in the cloud they are unwilling to manifest in their own on-premise, EULA-sold solutions.

    Heck, what’s the point of an Open Cloud Manifesto anyway? Shouldn’t there just be a Open Software Manifesto that manifests itself regardless of deployment model?

    I think we’ve all been around long enough to recognize a marketing ploy when we see one. And this is one of them!

  • RMS says:

    It’s great to see Gartner supporting Free™ and Open™ Cloud Computing and immediately recognising the significant value that the CloudLeft Public License (CPL) can deliver.

  • Tom Bittman says: