IBM’s Open Cloud Manifesto Leaves Out Some Big Names

IBM’s (NYSE: IBM) Open Cloud Manifesto released earlier this week includes an impressive list of partners, but what’s equally notable is who’s sitting it out.

Among others, IBM has lined up Cisco (NASDAQ: CSCO), EMC (NYSE: EMC), VMware (NYSE: VMW), Sun Microsystems (NASDAQ: JAVA), Red Hat (NYSE: RHT), Novell (NASDAQ: NOVL), Juniper Networks (NASDAQ: JNPR), AT&T (NYSE: T) and Computer Sciences Corp. (NYSE: CSC).

At this point, the Manifesto is mostly a familiar promise of unity and openness, something the tech industry talks about quite a bit but rarely delivers. It states in part:

“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.”

Conspicuous by their absence are Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT), Google (NASDAQ: GOOG), Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN) and Salesforce (NYSE: CRM), which are the biggest cloud computing vendors on the market. Microsoft hasn’t released its Azure cloud system yet, but the other three have made their presence felt with significant cloud offerings.

Brian Goodman, Manager of the Cloud Engineering and Experience group at IBM, was diplomatic on the subject. “While I can’t talk to what these companies [have in mind] and their reasons for not doing it, there’s no doubt that the conversation has to happen. And the truth is, I personally haven’t seen anything that suggests the conversation isn’t happening,” he said.

Microsoft spoiled the launch of the Manifesto last week when Steven Martin, Microsoft’s senior director of developer platform management, said it showed bias and had a “lack of openness.” Reuven Cohen, CEO of the small startup Enomaly and author of the Manifesto, sarcastically thanked Microsoft for bringing so much attention to the effort.

For its part, Google said in a statement, “While Google isn’t party to the manifesto, we are a strong advocate of cloud computing, given the substantial benefits for consumers and businesses. We value industry dialog that results in more and better delivery of software and services via the Internet, and appreciate IBM’s leadership and commitment in this area. We continue to be open to interoperability with all vendors and any data.”

The Open Cloud Manifesto’s supporters say the initiative “is meant to start a conversation around standards and help clients ask the right questions about cloud interoperability. This document is not a contract with vendors or a position on what standards should be. It is directed to opening an important discussion as clouds incorporate into business and society.”

Goodman said the initiative is designed to avoid vendor lock-in while preserving the competitive advantages of the vendors. “We don’t look at open standards as making everyone look alike or making it hard to differentiate,” he said. “It allows us to interoperate and let a variety of options take place in the environment. The way I look at it is, it’s hard to disagree with what the content in the Open Cloud Manifesto is.”

Gartner analyst David Smith was unimpressed. “I think it’s vaporous even by cloud standards. There’s nothing to it. Read it. It says nothing,” he said. He also posted his thoughts on the subject on a Gartner blog.

Smith noted that with very few exceptions, most of the vendors signed up by IBM are part of what he calls the “private cloud crowd,” vendors that establish clouds within a firm, as opposed to “public clouds” like Amazon EC2 and Microsoft Azure.

“I’m not saying these are bad things, just characterize this initiative as being driven by those who have the private cloud view of the world,” said Smith.

Article courtesy of

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