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Meditating On the Manifesto: It’s Good To Be King…

By now you’ve heard of ManifestoGate, no?  If not, click on that link and read all about it as James Urquhart does a nice job summarizing it all.

In the face of all of this controversy, tonight Reuven Cohen twittered that the opencloudmanifesto.org website was live.

So I mosied over to take a look at the promised list of supporters of said manifesto since I’ve been waiting for a definition of the “we” who developed/support it.  

It’s a very interesting list.

There are lots of players. Some of them are just starting to bring their Cloud visions forward.

But clearly there are some noticeable absences, namely Google, Microsoft Salesforce and Amazon — the three four largest established Cloud players in the Cloudusphere.

I think it’s been said in so many words before, but let me make it perfectly clear why, despite the rhetoric both acute and fluffy from both sides, that these three Cloud giants aren’t listed as supporters.

Here are the the listed principles of the Open Cloud from the manifesto itself:

Of course, many clouds will continue to be different in a number of important ways, 
providing unique value for organizations. It is not our intention to define standards for 
every capability in the cloud and create a single homogeneous cloud environment. 

Rather, as cloud computing matures, there are several key principles that must be 
followed to ensure the cloud is open and delivers the choice, flexibility and agility 
organizations demand:

1. 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.

2. Cloud providers must not use their market position to lock customers 
into their particular platforms and limit their choice of providers.

3. Cloud providers must use and adopt existing standards wherever 
appropriate. The IT industry has invested heavily in existing standards 
and standards organizations; there is no need to duplicate or reinvent 

4. When new standards (or adjustments to existing standards) are needed, 
we must be judicious and pragmatic to avoid creating too many 
standards. We must ensure that standards promote innovation and do 
not inhibit it.

5. Any community effort around the open cloud should be driven by 
customer needs, not merely the technical needs of cloud providers, and 
should be tested or verified against real customer requirements.

6. Cloud computing standards organizations, advocacy groups, and 
communities should work together and stay coordinated, making sure 
that efforts do not conflict or overlap.

Fact is, from a customer’s point of view, I find all of these principles agreeable and despite calling it a manifesto, I could see using it as a nice set of discussion points with which I can chat about my needs from the Cloud.   It’s intersting to note that given the audience as stated in the manifesto, that the only list of supporters are vendors and not “customers.”

I think the more discussion we have on the matter, the better.  Personally, I grok and support the principles herein.  I’m sure this point will be missed as I play devil’s advocate, but so be it.  

However, from the “nice theory, wrong universe” vendor’s point-of-view, why/how could I sign it?

See #2 above?  It relates to exactly the point made by James when he said “Those who have publicly stated that they won’t sign have the most to lose.”

Yes they do.  And the last time I looked, all three of them have notions of what the Cloud ought to be, and how and to what degree  it ought to interoperate and with whom.  

I certainly expect they will leverage every ounce of “lock-in” enhanced customer experience through a tightly-coupled relationship they can muster and capitalize on the de facto versus de jure “standardization” that naturally occurs in a free market when you’re in the top 4.  Someone telling me I ought to sign a document to the contrary would likely not get offered a free coffee at the company cafe.

Trying to socialize (in every meaning of the word) goodness works wonders if you’re a kibbutz.  With billions up for grabs in a technology land-grab, not so much.

This is where the ever-hopeful consumer, the idealist integrator, and the vendor-realist personalities in me begin to battle.

Oh, you should hear the voices in my head…


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  1. March 29th, 2009 at 16:17 | #1

    Sharp as always, Chris. Love the reference to a kibbutz (go Israel!). However, there is one problem. All of this would have been fine, if there were not ulterior motives by what is clearly the most dominant vendor behind this, IBM.

  2. March 29th, 2009 at 16:21 | #2


    Well, I can't speak to the motivations of IBM or anyone else, since I wasn't involved. I am only trying to sort through this in my own odd way.

    I'm sure there's a bigger picture, but since I have no dog in this hunt, anyone is free to add their $0.02 to clarify things…


  3. March 29th, 2009 at 16:35 | #3

    Hi Chris. Nice post.

    People seem to want to believe that the Manifesto is a standards document or a legally binding contract. It is neither. It is simply a statement on behalf of numerous organizations — small and large; for-profit, non-profit and hope-to-profit-someday — that the undersigned want to see and open cloud and want to start a dialogue towards that end.

    IBM will be the most dominant vendor in pretty much any discussion that involves them and their motivation — to make money — is far less than ulterior.

  4. March 29th, 2009 at 17:20 | #4

    @Sam Charrington

    It's clearly NOT a standards document. Anyone who reads it can see that, right?

    I think it's a fine conversation starter.

    I wonder what those who chose to be "supporters" would like to call it?

  5. March 30th, 2009 at 03:01 | #5

    The alternative title for this post could have been: Whose Manifesto IS This, Anyway?

    You made the key point here:

    "Fact is, from a customer’s point of view, I find all of these principles agreeable and despite calling it a manifesto, I could see using it as a nice set of discussion points with which I can chat about my needs from the Cloud. It’s intersting to note that given the audience as stated in the manifesto, that the only list of supporters are vendors and not “customers.”

    Should the CCIF / Open Cloud Manifestation proceed with any validity, it will be (among other things) as a meeting ground for vendor and customer. Having a bunch of vendors (all of whom aspire to great market presence) set the tone of the discussion as the defenders of customer rights is either disingenuous or very clueless.

    If CCIF is to make good on the notion that it is NOT a standards organization, then it would be in its best interest to become a welcoming spot for the customer, and actively encourage their substantive contributions regarding requirements. It makes no sense to denigrate the business models of AWS, Google, Salesforce nor that of any of the signatories.

    (P.s. As for the voices in Hoff's head … bring on the tin-foil hat…please!)

  6. March 30th, 2009 at 03:11 | #6

    @Rich Miller

    In terms of viability, here's the totally confusing thing: the CCIF (of which Reuven is the "instigator") and who basically authored the manifesto has withdrawn its support of it! Meanwhile Reuven, who is CEO of Enomaly — a sponsor/supporter — is still supporting it.

    How the hell does that make sense?

    I mean W. T. F., over?

  1. April 3rd, 2009 at 13:11 | #1
  2. June 13th, 2009 at 05:30 | #2