An antidote to lock-in in the cloud?

I’ve mentioned before that one thing that moderates my natural inclination to go gaga over cloud-based hosting for web applications is that there is, so far, no clean way exists to switch providers. Both Google and Amazon[1] argue that there are theoretical ways to abandon them for a competitor today, but for most business decision makers theoretical doesn’t count when the alternative is tight vendor lock-in.

C1_EAST_200x200 The cloud lock-in problem cannot be considered solved until there are multiple viable alternative cloud hosting providers that have essentially zero barrier to switching amongst the set.

To that end, Sun Microsystems announced their Open Cloud Platform today at their CommunityOne East developer event in New York. (Best technical overview: the walk-through on their wiki)

While this launch still only solves the problem in theory and not in practice, I give them reasonable odds that theirs will be the standard API that gets broadly adopted first by making a credible (if for no other reason than Tim Bray’s active involvement) and public effort to create open standards around managing machines, networks, images, deployment, storage, clustering, backups, and all other common aspects of managing a cloud hosting environment.

Come on Amazon, Google, and Microsoft, you should get involved in some kind of cloud standardization effort, even if not this one!


[1] The only comment I can find from Microsoft regarding Azure lock-in is that they appear to have, in the time since yesterday’s Live Search cache snapshot, removed “or lock-in” from the “Low Risk… without worrying about operational constraints or lock-in” on the official Azure Services Platform page.

One Comment

  1. Posted March 23, 2009 at 10:12 pm | Permalink

    I think we’re a ways off from cloud standards. There’s just too much room for innovation that I expect we’ll see providers going their own way a bit longer. Instead, I think we’ll see abstracted libraries, like AppDrop. That may be where the standards are worked out.

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