May 1, 2009
"Do not follow where the path may lead... Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail."
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Cloud Computing on Linux Has Microsoft Blogging

Mar 26th, 2009 | By Mike Dailey | Category: Latest Articles, Linux and Open Source

The Cloud Manifesto, a collaborative document prepared jointly by Amazon, Google, IBM and others has apparently upset Microsoft. In a blog post entitled “Moving Toward an Open Process on Cloud Computing Interoperability” and penned by the senior director of developer platform management for Microsoft, Steven Martin, Mr. Martin stated his position that the Cloud Manifesto and the process of creating it was biased to benefit its authors, and unfair to their competitors–such as Microsoft.

The Cloud Manifesto document appears to describe design principles and guidelines for system interoperability in cloud computing. In his blog post Mr. Martin states that the document was created without the direct involvement of Microsoft, stating “What we heard was that there was no desire to discuss, much less implement, enhancements to the document, despite the fact that we have learned through direct experience”.  He added that Microsoft considers standards and interoperability key to the long-term success of the industry.

I find it ironic that Microsoft would be so upset by the fact that other industry leaders joined together to discuss and design a future technology that, in all likelihood, will change the way we process data. It is ironic because Microsoft has been developing industry solutions in a silo for years.  Is Microsoft upset because they were left out, because they are worried the world won’t see Microsoft Windows as the platform for cloud initiatives, or because the world may have already figured out the best platform for cloud initiatives—Linux?

Many industry leaders are positioning Linux/Unix operating systems and Open Source technologies as the platform for cloud computing. IBM, Sun, Google, Amazon, and RedHat are all developing and supporting Linux-based cloud solutions. Microsoft is likely upset not because they were left out of the design discussions but because this important future technology is being focused on a platform that Microsoft once publicly stated to be irrelevant in the technology marketplace. It goes without saying that Microsoft is viewing a variant of Windows Server as the best platform for cloud computing, and the lack of an invite just may be an indication that large sectors of the industry do not share that view.

Martin added that Microsoft believes that principles and standards for interoperability in cloud computing systems need to be defined through a process that is open to public discussion and collaboration, and should not be a vendor-dominated process. When these discussions take place I hope Microsoft is open to the idea that many chairs at the discussion table will be filled by vendors and developers who believe Linux is the future of cloud computing.  Based on the number of companies working on Linux-based cloud solutions Microsoft may need to bring more chairs.  In fact, Microsoft may want to consider giving up their own chairs as there are signs that Microsoft isn’t so concerned with cooperation, after all. 

As Mr. Martin states in his blog post, “From the moment we kicked off our cloud computing effort, openness and interop stood at the forefront. As those who are using it will tell you, the Azure Services Platform is an open and flexible platform that is defined by web addressability, SOAP, XML, and REST.”  Click on the Azure Services link and the entire reason Mr. Martin is upset is centered in your browser window:

“Build new applications in the cloud - or use interoperable services that run on Microsoft infrastructure to extend and enhance your existing applications. You choose what’s right for you.”

Microsoft has already decided that cloud computing should operated on Microsoft platforms. The problem is that Linux may have just found a niche that Microsoft wasn’t expecting, and if so, Mr. Martin’s frustration bears evidence to their concern.

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Mike Dailey is an Information Technology Architect and Senior Network Engineer specializing in the design, integration, and management of complex computer network and data security solutions for medium and large enterprises.

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