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OCI Offers 'Happy Medium' For Cloud Customers, Vendors

A new non-profit organization has been created to drive open standards in cloud computing. Launched at the OSCON 2011 Open Source Convention, the Open Cloud Initiative (OCI) published the Open Cloud Principles (OCP) document to ensure user freedoms without impeding the ability of providers to do business. Open for review for the next 30 days, the OCP calls for "multiple full, faithful and interoperable implementations," with at least one of which being open source.

This is all about protecting the freedoms of users as we move from a product to a service world, says OCI founder and president Sam Johnston, and providing a "happy medium" between the needs of users and vendors. Not so long ago he tweeted, "Legacy: unreliable software on reliable hardware. Cloud: reliable software on unreliable hardware." He says OCI is inspired by the Open Source Initiative (OSI), and wants to find a balance between protecting important user freedoms and enabling providers to build successful businesses. Other members of the board of directors include Rick Clark, Marc Fleischmann, Sam Johnston, Shanley Kane, Noirin Plunkett, Evan Prodromou, Sam Ramji, Thomas Uhl, John Mark Walker and Simon Wardley.

Standards are nothing new to the IT industry, and a number of cloud standardization initiatives have been launched in recent years, ranging from the Open Cloud Standards Incubator from the Distributed Management Task Force (DMTF) to the more recent open-source projects, OpenStack Compute for developing a cloud-based server environment and OpenStack Object Storage for cloud-based storage. Last month the Open Data Center Alliance, a group of almost 300 companies, announced standards for cloud providers.

The danger, says Johnston, is that unlike the creation of the Internet, where standards came first, today you have vendors trying to lead the way to cloud computing. Initiatives like the Clouds Standards Customer Council, DTMF and Open Cloud Manifesto are all vendor-driven. "We are very actively trying to avoid that."

Open Cloud must meet the following requirements:

  • Open formats: All user data and metadata must be represented in open standard formats.
  • Open interfaces: All functionality must be exposed by way of open standard interfaces.


    Open standards must meet the following requirements:

  • Copyrights: The standard must be documented in all its details, published and both accessible and [re]usable free of charge.
  • Patents: Any patents possibly present on [parts of] the standard must be irrevocably made available on a royalty-free basis.
  • Trademarks: Any trademarks possibly present on identifier(s) must be used for non-discriminatory enforcement of compliance only.
  • Implementations: There must be multiple full, faithful and interoperable implementations (for both client and server where applicable), and at least one such implementation must be licensed under an Open Source Initiative-approved license or placed into the public domain.

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