Thoughts on a cloud manifesto

by Matt Milner 27. April 2009 11:15

Recently, Steven Martin at Microsoft talked about a cloud manifesto that would presumably define some agreement around open standards for interoperability in the “cloud”.  Aside from all of the politics and secrecy, I’m wondering what this would actually look like.  I’m all for open standards and I think the big players should be involved in the discussion.  But what standards do we need that we don’t already have?  And do more standards really make things better? 

The actual manifesto can now be found at  and provides a quick look at the actual statements and a list of supporters.  I can’t help but notice that not only is Microsoft not on the list, but neither are Amazon, Google, and some other major players in the cloud space.  It makes me really question the purposes behind this manifesto and why it was created.  A lot of the points are certainly valid and easy to agree with such as the need for security and interoperability.  I think what most bugs me about this is the idea that a user should be able to pick up their application from one cloud and drop it in another.  Obviously I do my work almost exclusively on the Microsoft platform, buy my sense is that the whole write once, run anywhere thing didn’t work for Java, so I’m not too optimistic about it working in the cloud.

I’m of the mind lately that standards, while helpful can also become overkill. Look at SOAP. Having interop for security enables the connection of code on different platforms which is a great thing.  But then we have standards for transactions, reliable messaging, etc. which are primarily useful within the enterprise to connect disparate systems. Yet many today are finding SOAP to be overkill and turning to REST.  REST still uses standards like HTTP and often XML, but the architecture and the implementation is based more on using what works and keeping it simple.  

I’m all for a cloud where users can have their application connect and interoperate between clouds and private data centers in a secure fashion, but like the manifesto says, I don’t think we need new specifications, we have most of what we need to achieve that interoperability and Microsoft at least is showing its commitment to those existing standards with the .NET Services and Azure platform.  In the end, I think this will, and should, come down to who has the best platform, and who has the best tools for developing on that platform.  I think Microsoft has some great potential in this arena, and I’m excited to watch the Azure platform mature. 

Time will tell. 


General Musings