The metacloud is inevitable.
The metacloud should- and almost surely will- be open in every way.
No one company/person will build the metacloud.
History will repeat itself.
What is this metacloud I speak of? Well, hang Silicon Valley up on a wall and throw a dart at it. Chances are you’ll hit a company trying to abstract public clouds, private clouds, or both to build a platform for the deluge of cloud-native, yet cloud-agnostic software everyone’s expecting. Enomaly, RightScale, cloud.com. . . the list goes on. And if you want to build your own metacloud, no worries. There’s an API for that. Dasein , libcloud, and even my own Simple Cloud API, for example. While Amazon, VMWare and Microsoft (I’ll spare you the links) feverishly add new features to their closed, proprietary clouds in an effort to differentiate their offerings, some small fries are working on smoothing over the differences.
This is where a good old Linux analogy comes in handy. Early on in the development of the kernel (version 1.2), Linus et. al. decided that portability was important. So they added support for Alpha, SPARC, and MIPS. In doing so, they freed Linux from the clutches of the x86 architecture and turned the hardware in to little more than an abstraction for developers working on top of the Linux platform.
The way I see things, EC2, Windows Azure, Rackspace Cloud Servers, and the rest of the gang are pimping processors. They add one feature after the next, while a bunch of startups are working on platforms that solidly hit the 80% of features and leave the developer/user blissfully unaware of where their virtual computers are actually running.
So you see where I’m going with this. The metacloud will be like Linux, abstracting out the differences in cloud computing architectures. And it’s inevitable. It’s just too useful not to be done.
But I have bad news for any metacloud developer who aspires to write the next Linux: Linux wasn’t built in a day, and it sure as hell wasn’t built by a single company. Its popularity came at the cost of almost total freedom. So any company could use it in any way, and many companies decided to back it by adding drivers and modules for their products that wouldn’t be there otherwise.
I believe the metacloud will be developed in the same way. Since API convergence is convenience in the cloud, I also believe that there will eventually be one API to rule them all (Yes! I finally found a place to bust out this reference where it actually makes sense!).
So, there’s a lesson to be learnt from history here. The vendors that made big bucks off of Linux did it by getting in on the community action and putting it to good use in their products, not by building it themselves.
That said, someone’s got to get the ball rolling.