Nirvana in the cloud world, as in the ability to easily move from cloud service to cloud service without vendor lock-in, might be on its way for application developers.
Tackling portability issues in cloud deployments, Zend Technologies, backed by heavyweights IBM and Microsoft, is launching an open source project Tuesday to provide an API for developers to implement cloud services amongst multiple platforms.
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The Simple API for Cloud Application Services project, or Simple Cloud API, is intended to let developers use common application services in the cloud and access value-added features from individual providers, said Zend, which is best known as a provider of tools for PHP application development. Developers would be able to build cloud applications accessing all major cloud platforms. IBM, Microsoft, Nirvanix, Rackspace, and GoGrid serve as co-founding contributors to the community project. Cloud leader Amazon Web Services is among the platforms supported, although Amazon is not now a participant in the effort.
"What the simple Cloud API does is offer one API, one API with interfaces to these different kinds of services so that you only have to write your application to this API and you can deploy across these services with just configuration changes," and move to different clouds, said Wil Sinclair, cloud strategist for Zend.
Initially functioning with PHP, the API was designed for translation to any object-oriented language for the Web, Zend said. "We have talked with people in Java, Python, and the Perl community and they're interested in collaborating," to support the API in these languages, Sinclair said.
Initial deliverables include interfaces for file storage, document databases, and simple queue services from platforms like Amazon Web Services, Windows Azure, Nirvanix Storage Delivery Network, and Rackspace Cloud Files. Developers can deploy applications accessing services in these environments without having to make changes to source code.
Future services might be supported such as mail or authentication, said Dirk Nicol, director of emerging technology at IBM.
"What we'll do is we'll launch this [project] with some early code for the community so they understand the concept and from there, they will take it to the next level," Nicol said.
The PHP implementation of Simple Cloud API will be available as a component in the open source Zend Framework, to be called Zend Cloud. PHP developers can use the component to access existing libraries in the framework.
Industry observers offered varied perspectives on Simple Cloud API, citing similarity to ODBC database technology and noting an application orientation.