30 March 2009

Big day for the Open Cloud: Next steps for Cloud Forum

An open letter in response to An Open Future for CCIF:

Mark this date. Today Sunday 29 March 2009 is an extremely important day for the Open Cloud (that's right, with capitals ala Open Source). The Cloud Computing Interoperability Forum (CCIF) "committee" (for want of a better term, consisting of Sam Charrington, Reuven Cohen, Dave Niesen and Jesse Silver) have walked away from the Open Cloud Manifesto that they helped create and in doing so may have jeopardised personal and professional relationships with IBM and other signatories.

They have also published a heartfelt apology for their "direct and private engagement, in the name of the CCIF, vis a vis the Open Cloud Manifesto [which] may be viewed as a breech of this community's norms". I have tried to call Reuven to personally congratulate him for this stunning about face and if this editor had a "standing ovation" function then I'd be using it.

I've been a vocal critic of the CCIF since its inception, first arguing that standards efforts were premature (they were), launching a competing cloud community, declaring the CCIF dead over lack of openness (moderation/censorship) which resulted in reconsideration of its role, developing a truly open Cloud Computing Manifesto and finally revealing another secrecy scandal earlier today relating to the behind-the-scenes formation of a Cloud Computing AlliancePrivate Cloud Cabal that was to be announced at the CCIF event on Thursday. I can't take all the credit for the about face though - the language in the cloudforum Google Group over the last few days has been "flamboyant" to say the least and ultimately it was their decision to back down from an untenable position.

There are some loose ends to tie off, most notably the famous Monday Microsoft Meeting and Cloud Computing AlliancePrivate Cloud Cabal:
  1. For the meeting Jesse assures me that they have decided to "say nothing" and provided they both "say nothing" and report back to us the proceeds then I don't have any problem whatsoever with them officially representing the CCIF even in the absence of a formal governance structure. If anyone does have a problem with that then say so now or forever hold your peace (it is, after all, only hours away now).
  2. For the "Alliance" it's apparently off the table. The coming soon page has already been taken down and I would, in the strongest possible terms, caution about raising the issue again until well after the dust settles (if at all). Iff the community wants an alliance then it can build one from inception in the open.
Moving right along as we have a lot to do now and we need to act quickly as all of these points should be completed within the coming 72 hours (assuming we agree to them). Here's some things that come to mind, in order of priority:
  • Forgive and move on as the breach of trust is so far as I am concerned a thing of the past - I for one accept their apology and from what little contact I've had with each of them I belive they will stick to their word. Translation: this point doesn't need any further discussion in the group, except in the context of moving forward.
  • Damage control as there will be fallout from this decision that may need to be handled over the coming days. I don't think I need to go into details here as those who need to handle it will.
  • Defer governance issues at least until the dust settles. We've got way too much to do right now to risk descending into a debate about the nuances of memorandums and articles and other committee time wasters. When and if we need to review this we can, and then it should likely be a simple non-profit structure with a relatively static board of stable members dealing with administrative issues such as sponsorships, trademarks, domains, copyright licenses, etc. For now I would suggest that our illustrious leaders simply be called the "committee" and that this committee be grown or shrunk as necessary. If Reuven wants a title then I would humbly suggest that something like "Evangelist" may be better than "Instigator". If I understand well Jesse serves a PR/Marketing function, Dave is the CloudCamp extraordinaire and Sam is a business liasion(?) - appropriate role based titles could be assigned if deemed necessary.
  • Adopt consensus decision-making for most decisions, such as which standards to support. Votes may be held for limited tasks such as approval of creation of a working group, ratification of a standard, changes to rules or appointment of individuals to the committee.
  • Rename CCIF to "Cloud Forum" as Manifestogate has done us some serious damage, and how better to demonstrate serious change than with a change in name. I was always disappointed that the monarchists rejected an Australian republic just in time for the Sydney 2000 Olympics as I think it would have been a great way to enter the new millennium and the same applies here. By adopting the new name (bearing in mind the group is already cloudforum and domain cloudforum.org) we move from an essentially meaningless acronym to an appropriate name for a group dealing with general cloud computing advocacy.
  • Ratify & Adopt the Open Cloud Principles (or some functional equivalent) as this will put to rest any question of being a closed/secretive organisation (remembering that this was the primary criticism both internally and externally - even today's missive was titled An Open future for CCIF). One function of the Cloud Forum can be similar to that of the Open Source Initiative. Adopting the principles means opening the group by disabling invitations and moderation - spammers and trolls can be dealt with on a case by case basis and if it proves a problem we can decide as a community what remedial action to take.
  • Deliver an Open Cloud Open Manifesto but call it a Cloud Computing Manifesto or similar if IBM et al press on without us (otherwise Open Cloud Manifesto is fine). If we can take over management of the document once it is released that would be even better yet. The result should be the bastard child of the infamous Open Cloud Manifesto, the Cloud Computing Manifesto (seeded from Microsoft's suggestions) and other feedback from within and outside the Cloud Forum.
  • Officially support existing standards efforts starting with DMTF OVF which already exists. Also the Open Cloud Computing Interface (OCCI) (mailing list) is currently the best chance we have of realising a cloud infrastructure (IaaS) API in the short term (implementable draft by May) and an easy way for Cloud Forum to get some runs on the board as momentum is gathering quickly behind the project and I am confident it will be a success. Final call for the charter is 5pm CET Monday (today) for rubber stamping by the OGF steering committee by Wednesday.
By taking these steps (and possibly others I have failed to consider) I believe the Cloud Forum formerly known as CCIF will be in a great position to evangelise cloud computing and the Open Cloud. Thanks again to Sam Charrington, Reuven Cohen, Dave Niesen and Jesse Silver for "activating" the community.

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