Open Cloud Manifesto's anti-Microsoft bias

IBM releases the Open Cloud Manifesto in a less-than-open way, leading to some of the biggest cloud vendors holding out. Is the manifesto thus doomed from the start?

It turns out that IBM is the company behind the new Open Cloud Manifesto, a document that defines an open, interoperable cloud-computing vision that is so much motherhood and apple pie that few will disagree with its hazy tenets.

However, it's increasingly evident that IBM wants to use the manifesto to rain on Microsoft's own cloud efforts, inviting Microsoft to join the open-cloud party on terms that Microsoft, as well as Amazon.com, Salesforce.com, and Google apparently can't countenance, as ZDNet's Mary Jo Foley reports.

Because of the closed process, as well as some of the tenets of the manifesto, those companies--the world's primary cloud vendors--have thus far declined to sign up. If these bellwethers of cloud computing don't sign, will it matter that a host of small start-ups are set to join Cisco Systems and IBM in signing it? The answer, as Daryl Taft suggests, is "probably not."

It's one thing to be open. It's quite another to actually get used. Open clouds that no one uses are, well, somewhat useless.

It's too bad, because arguably, the Open Cloud Manifesto could have garnered broader support simply by opening up the drafting process, probably resulting in a more inclusive document.

CNET's Ina Fried takes a look at the document and suggests that "it's easy to see how this might prove challenging for those with existing cloud platforms, folks like Amazon and Microsoft," given its emphasis on open source to undergird open clouds.

IBM seems to have crafted the Open Cloud Manifesto in its own image, and then foisted it upon everyone else.

Thus, as ZDNet's Larry Dignan suggests, the manifesto has something of an anti-Microsoft bias, and IBM, which has no great love for Microsoft, almost certainly intended this. In fact, IBM, master of public relations that it is, probably never really intended Microsoft to participate.

All of this makes me wonder if IBM simply meant for the manifesto to be a PR wedge to beat up Microsoft. All's fair in love and standards, and no one uses standards to greater advantage than IBM, but its arguably less-than-open approach to creating an Open Cloud Manifesto could doom the manifesto from the start.

I like the manifesto's tenets, and I agree that without cloud interoperability and open data, we're going to end up re-creating the past two decades' proprietary desktop wars in the cloud. But unless we're willing to not only articulate open principles, but also to create them through an open process, we seem to be doomed to repeat the mistakes of our proprietary past.


Follow me on Twitter at mjasay.

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About the author

    Matt Asay is chief operating officer at Canonical, the company behind the Ubuntu Linux operating system. Prior to Canonical, Matt was general manager of the Americas division and vice president of business development at Alfresco, an open-source applications company. Matt brings a decade of in-the-trenches open-source business and legal experience to The Open Road, with an emphasis on emerging open-source business strategies and opportunities. He is a member of the CNET Blog Network and is not an employee of CNET. You can follow Matt on Twitter @mjasay.

     

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