News of an “open cloud manifesto” has irked Microsoft and left a number of other companies scratching their heads. The document, which won’t be published until Monday aspires to set standards for cloud computing, an area in which many big tech companies are heavily invested, Microsoft included.

Word of the manifesto came out yesterday, when Reuven Cohen of cloud computing startup Enomaly wrote a blog post announcing the document. Many of the details won’t be clear until we see the manifesto itself, but here’s how Cohen described its contents:

Our goal is to draft a document that clearly states we (including dozens of supporting companies) believe that like the Internet, the cloud itself should be open. … It is not our intention to define standards for every capability in the cloud and create a single homogeneous cloud environment. Rather, as cloud computing matures to address several key principles that we believe must be followed to ensure the cloud is open and delivers the choice, flexibility and agility organizations demand [sic].

Gee, that sounds so warm and fuzzy and vague, how could anyone object, right? Well, it turns out Microsoft’s Steve Martin, who is the software giant’s senior director of platform development, had some issues. His main complaint was that a “secret” group had been putting this manifesto together, without asking Microsoft: “An open Manifesto emerging from a closed process is at least mildly ironic.” Of course, the idea that a software giant that’s not exactly known for openness is complaining about a lack of openness is pretty ironic in and of itself, as many other bloggers were eager to point out — and not always politely.

In the meantime, other tech giants have been weighing in as well. Amazon says it hasn’t heard anything about the manifesto but plans to review it. Google also says it wasn’t in the initial group putting together the document but is “open to interoperability with all vendors and any data.”

Now, openness is an important issue, and certainly something that I hear a number of companies worrying about as they consider moving their applications and data to an online cloud infrastructure — if it’s your data, or your business, you want to have as much flexibility and portability as possible. So bravo on the effort. But if someone’s going to draft a manifesto, and three of the most prominent players in the space (including the number one, Amazon) are either ambivalent or outright hostile, that doesn’t inspire a lot of confidence in their chances of making a real difference.

Oh, and by the way, there’s also been a lot of speculation about who’s actually behind the manifesto. Is it just a bunch of startups trying to make the big guys look bad? Not according according to InfoWorld, which reports that IBM is leading the effort.


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