Thunder in the Clouds

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

I’m sure you’ve read about the IBM’s Open Cloud Manifesto, Microsoft’s reaction to it and then the press reaction to both. If you haven’t, see Paul Greenberg’s summary. Even the worthy Economist covered the story, so it must be big news.

“Open” initiatives are always launched by a consortium of second tier vendors who want to challenge the first tier vendors’ grip on the market. Unix v Open VMS, CORBA, the Open Software Foundation, we’ve all been here before. The market leaders will have their own “open” systems that are open as long as you use their products, whether their platform is Amazon’s, Google’s, SAP’s or And there is no way any of those vendors will want to make it easy for users to use products outside of the fold. Not surprisingly, the loudest noises are coming from Microsoft, the vendor with the most to lose from the whole concept of cloud computing – not just the application revenue, but the whole stack of client and server operating systems, middleware and databases.

When playing the “Open” card, vendors have to tread a fine line between making their systems sufficiently “open” so that customers are attracted to them, but not so “open” so that they can leave easily. Think lobster pot and you get the idea.

As always, the market will decide, despite different vendors’ attempts to set the agenda. Thank goodness!