Out of Order 2.0

failMicrosoft’s Steven Martin has ironically blown the whistle on an attempt at an “open” coalition that freezes out certain companies. Ironic in that Microsoft and IBM played this game years ago with the WS-I, an industry standards group that pointedly stonewalled Sun Microsystems’ involvement before caving under media pressure.

In a Google Groups post Introducing the Open Cloud Manifesto, Rueven Cohen describes an effort involving “several of the largest technology companies and organizations” to “draw a line in the sand.”

We are still working on the first version of the manifesto which will be
published Monday, March 30th with a goal of being ratified by the greater
cloud community. Given the nature of this document we have attempted to be
as inclusive as possible inviting most of the major names in technology to
participate in the initial draft. The intention of this first draft is to
act as a line in the sand, a starting point for others to get involved.
That being said this manifesto is not specifically targeting any one company
or industry but instead is intended to engage a dialogue on the
opportunities and benefits of fostering an open cloud ideology for everyone.

As inclusive as possible? Not targeted at any one company? Engage in a dialogue? What a load of crap that is. It’s the same back room cigar-smoke-filled scam of the good old days when Web Services first began its inexorable move to reshape computing. More than anything, the attempt to lock out Microsoft seems destined to backfire on those who are running this operation. The best way of pinning the tail on this donkey is to try and get quotes on the record from the possible partners in this effort. Is Google participating? No comment so far. Amazon? Apparently not. IBM? Bob Sutor, what say you?

If cloud computing follows the dynamics of the social media buildout, it’s likely we’ll see an Open Social-like alliance of vendors around an open architecture. Unfortunately for the Microsoft haters, Redmond has built considerable momentum on its own around open fundamentals for Silverlight, Live Mesh, and the incipient Azure Services. The analogy that may serve best is Facebook’s Connect, where the company stumbled earlier, adjusted and optimized, then rolled out changes to its core portal strategy that leverage the social graph API and UI tools while attacking at the heart of the monetization model pioneered by Twitter.

That’s likely what is threatening the Manifesto crowd, the difficulty of locking Microsoft out of an open relationship with users when they themselves demonstrate a disregard for the rules they are in the process of attempting to forge and then shove down Martin’s throat. Even in these early days of cross-cloud standards, the pay as you go fundamental of the Cloud changes this from a religious to a pragmatic discussion: how do we do this and what does it cost?

Microsoft understands it have no choice this time in being open; it also understands that being open in the Cloud is good business. The Manifestos get that too, and are trying to write some rules that Microsoft can’t sign, in secret, and then – do what? Those who favor being closed to being open in furtherance of being open somewhere down the road undercut their credibility.

By shining a light on this, Martin and Microsoft may have ensured that future meetings will be open for all participation. It’s going to be hard for Google or IBM or whoever else thought this was a good idea to stand up and take credit for it. The war over WS-I was long, ugly, and ultimately a loser for those who started it. Have another cigar, Reuven.