I didn’t intend to write this as a three-part adventure, but it’s funny how events tend to build off each other and make more of a topic as time passes over a few weeks. So this is really part 3 to ‘rearranging the furniture of cloud services’, and the kick-off point was the emergence of the Open Cloud Manifesto, a widely backed move by many existing mainstream technology players under the subtitle: ‘Dedicated to the belief that the cloud should be open’.
I won’t argue with that belief, and indeed I have touched on this point before in posts on the topic of what exactly is cloud computing. The choice of the term ‘open’ is an interesting one as the word has many connotations, and after reading the manifesto, I am not certain which ones apply, so I tend towards the thoughts expressed by Guy Barrette on his blog on this topic. On the positive side, the introduction as to the reason for the manifesto makes a lot of sense. It starts by saying the topic has reached a fever pitch with no clear definition, and then states:
One thing is clear; the industry needs an objective, straight forward conversation about how this new computing paradigm will impact organisations, how it can be used with existing technologies, and the potential pitfalls of proprietary technologies that can lead to lock-in and limited choice.
This document is intended to initiate a conversation that will bring together the emerging cloud community (both cloud users and cloud providers) around a core set of principles. We believe that these core principles are rooted in the belief that cloud computing should be as open as other IT technologies.
I have highlighted certain phrases due to their significance in respect of the membership of the Open Cloud Manifesto which is, I think, exclusively drawn from existing IT product vendors. (In addition, there are a few current IT vendors who did not join, by the way). By contrast, those names you hear most in connection with this topic, and are, shall we say, not traditional IT vendors have come out against the Manifesto in public, citing that they feel Clouds should be allowed to develop along de-facto lines until it becomes clear exactly what people see as the right approaches and benefits. See who is for and who is against.
So in fact the publication of the manifesto has already succeeded in one of its objectives; it has started the conversation about the principles! To pick up a point from Ron’s post on Intel Xeon 5500 vs. Open Cloud Manifesto, we have the IT vendors suggesting that Clouds should be an evolution from the existing IT environment probably with an emphasis on ‘private’ clouds in existing data centres, and we have the web-based services vendors saying that the answer is a revolution to the everything-as-a-service, XaaS, from shared or public environments.
Personally I think they are both right; i.e., why should current IT applications require the revolution when the evolution of ‘use with existing technologies’ would seem to be more sensible. But I do believe we are underestimating the development of a new generation of business capabilities, (Business Technology), that are fundamentally external by nature and therefore are best enabled by public clouds. My evidence for this is based on the way that the SmartPhone market has been both evolutionary around email, contacts, and voice with some internet access on one hand, and revolutionary around the internet and services, with voice on the other driven by the Apple iPhone model.
The ‘office apps’ led by email are the logical ‘internal’ evolution of providing existing services onto new platforms, i.e., Blackberries and Smart Phones in general, as it is still around the same basic business drivers and issues of security and cost. By comparison, the iPhone is the revolution driven by a huge range and market based on external services delivered as ‘services’ through the Apple App store, and using the Internet connectivity functionality primarily. The users decide what services they wish to consume from this new world on a pull model, whereas the Enterprise pushes the use of email off its existing email platform to the same user.
So to me the ‘hype’ and ‘confusion’ on clouds is at least partly explained by two very different communities focussed on two very different uses apparently using the same term to explain both things! No wonder Clouds seem to be the answer to all questions, and it may be the Open Cloud Manifesto will succeed in clarifying at least one of the topics!