In Enterprise Software Standards, Avoid the 'Manifesto'


Elizabeth Montalbano of IDG did a great job March 26 breaking a story about a coming "Open Cloud Manifesto." Her source was the blog of Steve Martin of Microsoft. Steve manages .NET, Azure, BizTalk and related development organizations at Microsoft, although, as these semi-official company blogs always say, his musings represent his own opinion.


The heart of both articles was that the development of something called the Open Cloud Manifesto was closed. Steve apparently was not willing to say who had contacted him from what organization, implying that he had agreed to some kind of apparently half-hearted non disclosure agreement (that is, he felt he could say he was approached but not by whom).


The moral of the story is beware of the word "Manifesto" in any enterprise software standards activity. Manifesto -- always capitalized -- is the favorite word of shadowy front groups often funded by IT suppliers that have something to gain by getting you to buy into their view of "open" or "interoperable" or "portable" or some such ill-defined term. The IT front group approach is primarily a European phenomenon, but there are some odd ones floating around the U.S. too, such as the Meritalk group marketing to the U.S. federal government, which I wrote about on my personal blog recently.


In fact, beware of any standards activity where Open or Interoperable or Portable or Cloud or anything is capitalized. Same reason. If you want to get involved with standards (and you should if you have the time), stick with the slow plodding but lower-case-open standards groups -- which are also supported by suppliers who are not secretive about it. I have done a recent series of articles and blogs on the subject.


The interesting thing is that Steve Martin's approach did serve to smoke out at least one of the Manifesto's creators. Reuven Cohen, who identifies himself as a CCIF "Instigator" (Cloud Computing Interoperability Forum, I think) and the founder of Enomaly, a vendor of cloud computing products or services, commented as follows on Steve's blog post:

"Over the last few weeks I have been working closely with several of the largest technology companies and organizations helping to co-author the Open Cloud Manifesto. 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. The manifesto does not speak to application code or licensing but instead to the fundamental principles that the Internet was founded upon - an open platform available to all. It is a call to action for the worldwide cloud community to get involved and embrace the principles of the open cloud."

Reuven promises publication on March 30. So until Monday, we still won't know until then who the rest of the shadowy "technology companies" (other than Enomaly) are. I guess Microsoft won't be one of them.