High stakes for open source in the commercial cloud

Push for open source in public clouds is less about users' flexibility and freedom, more to do with competitive power

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The Deltacloud alternative

Another open source project, also hosted at the Apache Software Foundation, might offer an alternative to this corporate-political conflict. As I discovered recently on Floss Weekly, DeltaCloud offers a single, generalized cloud API for your applications to use. Additionally, it provides a thin layer of adapters that map its lone API to a wide range of cloud services, both proprietary and open source. With this abstraction approach, your applications are simply an open source adapter away from continuity, regardless of who wins in the cloud computing API struggle.

Of course, even this approach has been subject to market pressures. Apache Deltacloud was originally created by Red Hat Software, which donated it to Apache. But other vendors worried that Red Hat might gain competitive advantage from the project, even at Apache, and refused to standardize around the Deltacloud APIs.

Instead, using the Distributed Management Task Force (DMTF) as a home, these competitors created a different proposed standard for abstracting cloud APIs. Naturally, Deltacloud is implementing these CIMI APIs as an alternative access layer for the same adapters, but it's disappointing to see this distrust in Apache. (If you want specific names, the companies that lacked faith in Apache as a neutral venue are listed in DMTF's press release.)

What can we learn from all this? First, cloud computing is still in its infancy as a utility, at the same stage the electricity industry was when it was killing elephants for competitive spectacle. Second, the Google-Oracle case has implications far beyond Android that should concern us all.

Finally, and most usefully, we can see that open source is not a different world deserving of a bias for or against open source projects. It's just the venue for innovation in the age of the meshed society, where we can expect to find writ large all the bad and the good behaviors we already understand.

This article, "High stakes for open source in the commercial cloud," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Read more of the Open Sources blog and follow the latest developments in open source at InfoWorld.com. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.

Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.

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