Cloud Interoperability and The Neutrality Paradox

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Reuven Cohen

Dec 22, 2008, 10:24:42 AM12/22/08
Recently during some behind the scenes conversations, the question of
neutrality within the cloud interoperability movement was raised.

The question of cloud interoperability does open an interesting point
when looking at the concepts of neutrality, in particular to those in
the position to influence its outcome. At the heart of this debate was
my question of whether anyone or anything can be be truly neutral? Or
is the very act of neutrality in itself the basis for some other
secondary agenda? (Think of Switzerland in the Second World War) For
this reason I have come to believe that the very idea of neutrality is
in itself a paradox.

Let me begin by stating my obvious biases. I have been working toward
the basic tenets of cloud computing for more then 5 years, something I
originally referred to as elastic computing. As part of this vision, I
saw the opportunity to connect a global network of computing capacity
providers using common interfaces as well as (potentially)
standardized interchange formats.

As many of you know I am the founder of a Toronto based technology
company Enomaly Inc, which focuses on the creation of an "elastic
computing" platform. The platform is intended to bridge the need for
the better utilization of enterprise compute capacity (private cloud)
with opportunities of a limitless, global, on demand ecosystem for
cloud computing providers. The idea is to enable a global hybrid data
center environment. In a lot of ways, my mission for creating a
consensus for the standardized exchange of compute capacity is both
driven by a fundamental vision for both my company and the greater
cloud community. To say interoperable cloud computing is something I'm
passionate about would be putting it mildly. Just ask my friends,
family or colleagues and they will tell you I am obsessed.

Recently, I created a CCIF Mission & Goals page, a kind of
constitution which outlines some of the groups core mission. As part
of that constitution I included a paragraph stating what we're not. In
the document I stated the following: "The CCIF will not condone any
use of a particular technology for the purposes of market dominance
and or advancement of any one particular vendor, industry or agenda.
Whenever possible the CCIP will emphasis the use of open, patent free
and or vendor neutral technical solutions. " This statement directly
addresses some of the concepts of vendor bias, but doesn't state bais
within the organizational structure of the group dynamic.

Back to the concept of neutrality as a cloud vendor, as interest in
cloud interoperability has begun to gain momentum, it has become clear
that these activities have more to do with realpolitik and less to do
with idealism. A question was posed - should a vendor (big or small)
be in a position to lead the conversation on the topic of cloud
interoperability? Or would a more impartial neutrality party be in a
better position to drive the agenda forward?

The very fact that question is being raised is indicative of the
success of both the greater cloud computing industry as well as our
efforts to drive some industry consensus around the topic of
interoperability. So regardless of my future involvement, my
objectives have been set into motion. Which is a good thing.

My next thought was whether there is really such a thing as a truly
neutral entity? To be truly neutral would require a level of apathy
that may ultimately result in a failed endeavour. Or to put it another
way, to be neutral means being indifferent to the logical outcome.
Which also means there is nothing at stake to motivate an individual
or group to work towards its stated goals. My more pragmatic self
can't also help but feel that even a potentially "more neutral" party
could also have some ulterior motives - we all have our agendas. And
I'm ok with that.

I'm not ok with those who don't admit to them. The first step in
creating a fair and balanced interoperable cloud ecosystem is to in
fact state our biases and take steps to offset them by including a
broad swath of the greater cloud community, big or small, vendor,
analyst or journalist.

So my question is this, how should we handle the concept of neutrality
and does it matter?


Original Link >


Reuven Cohen
Founder & Chief Technologist, Enomaly Inc.
blog >
Open Source Cloud Computing >

Shane Brauner

Dec 22, 2008, 12:35:30 PM12/22/08
Hi Reuven,

Thanks for your thoughts and your passion pushing this forward.  

I'm not sure I understand what you're referring to with respect to neutrality within the cloud interoperability movement.  In my view, what is needed is an open discussion and dialog to produce open standards / definitions / functionality.  Currently, various vendors and organizations are putting forth their vision for cloud computing (whether Infrastructure, Platform, or SaaS).  I doubt any of them see their offering as definitive or complete, and I'm sure they're all keeping tabs on each other with an eye to cross functionality.  

I see this group adding value by serving as an open forum and place for that dialog to happen.  A critical part of this is to ensure the various players are participating and included.  I'm a little concerned about 'neutrality' meaning 'if you have an agenda, you're not welcome.'  Everyone operating in this space will have their own agenda and bring their own viewpoint.  By each of us bringing our own point of view to an open discussion, I hope we will tease out the best solution(s).  I'm not so concerned about who is leading the discussion so much as the discussion being open.

Perhaps by focusing on the specific challenges and problems we're looking to address and the standards that require definition, we will achieve neutrality by default.

One last view is in response to the CCIF declaration stating, "...advancement of any one particular vendor, industry or agenda.."  It may be worthwhile to examine solutions specific to certain industries or problem sets.  Some industries are more amenable to cloud adoption than others, and we may be able to gain some good traction by developing solutions to problems that may be more specific to an industry.  These early solutions can serve as a way to light the way for a more general solution in the future.

Best Regards,

Shane Brauner - Technical Evangelist - 10gen
40 W 20th St - 6th Floor - New York, NY 10011
"Focus on Code.  Forget about Machines."


Dec 23, 2008, 1:19:24 PM12/23/08
to Cloud Computing Interoperability Forum (CCIF)
I think this is a great discussion though I'm not sure I attach quite
the same meaning to neutrality as interoperability. Some random

- As far as I can tell we haven't solved the net neutrality issue yet
- so how is this going to be different (or the same)? and what
viewpoint are we taking? Is this the view of the enterprise or the
customer/end-user? Does it extend to core functionality such as
compute neutrality in the cloud?

- How about a implementation modeled similar to what SNMP tried to
accomplish - private mib allowing for proprietary extensions with
public mib allowing some basal functionality for anyone who wished to

- Perhaps with specific QoS/SLA requirements including an automated
rating system against the SLA so the participating providers can
provide some cross-domain assurances?

- I'm still hung on privacy + security (P+S) in this scenario – we
still don’t have good identity systems which I would think are going
to be a cornerstone of P+S issues?

- Leveraging standards that exist as much as possible - we have a lot
of good and mature standards ... can we extend one or two; or converge
a few instead of creating yet another one?

I thought I'd kick the tires a little …


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