Trailing Clouds of Openness

As you may have heard, there's been a bit of a to-do over a new “Open Cloud Manifesto.” Here's the central idea:

The industry needs an objective, straightforward conversation about how this new computing paradigm will impact organizations, 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 computing 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 all other IT technologies.

That sounds promising, but closer reading reveals some problems. For example, in the section “Principles of an Open Cloud”, we read the following:

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.

Notice that this talks of “open collaboration”, but only “standards” - that is, it does not require *open* standards. Moreover, despite the fine words about “the potential pitfalls of proprietary technologies that can lead to lock-in and limited choice” mentioned above, I can find no commitment to use open source either.

So it seems that the Open Cloud Manifesto is keen to use the word “open” without really taking it too seriously.

Of course, it's not alone in this. Microsoft's little tantrum last week, when it revealed ahead of schedule the existence of the Manifesto, is another fine example:

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