You really want APIs designed by a community

I keep reading very strange things about OpenStack and its support for Amazon APIs. I believe it was generally acknowledged that APIs designed by one company were bad and that open API is really what you wanted. Today in Citrix kicks down door, breaks up OpenStack cloud party Matt Asay first quotes a superficial comment from Sam Johnston comparing OpenStack soon-to-be-obsoleted OpenStack governance model to Eclipse Foudation (suggestion: compare the draft documents for the OpenStack Foundation to Eclipse Foundation governance model).

Then Matt jumps on the favorite topics of the cloud pundits: API! It seems that Matt is cheering for one API, Amazon’s, like the history of Microsoft in the 90s didn’t teach us anything:

One aspect of [Rackspace’s] agenda is a shift away from full API compatibility with Amazon’s API, which is one of CloudStack’s major selling points, and one of the big reasons it is striking off on its own. Rackspace could easily have followed this furrow, first plowed by Eucalyptus and VMops/, but doing so would effectively cede the API battle to its bitter enemy, Amazon.

The first assumption is just wrong: Rackspace’s strategy is not the same thing as OpenStack’s strategy. Besides, Rackspace has two lines of business on OpenStack and those may not be 100% aligned.

Then, OpenStack supports Amazon’s API quite well, thank you. Such support is there to help companies move away from Amazon. I’ll have you read Jim Plamondon’s comment about how Amazon should not be allowed to follow Microsoft’s strategy (and Jim knows it very well).

OpenStack and the Free Software/Open Sourcei movement is in the rare position to be able to shape the future of computing, with an API that is designed by a very large set of companies, with lots of money too. This is not a small set of hackers trying to change the world: it’s BIG. OpenStack has the chance to set a real open standard for cloud computing while still allowing a compatibility layer as a migration path for all developers that are currently stuck on the proprietary API designed by Amazon behind closed doors. Companies like HP, Dell, Rackspace, Canonical and so many others are setting together a standard API, a truly open standard that I expect can also be easily ratified by a standards body, if/when needed.

I wonder why people claiming to be open source supporters cheer for the (quasi)monopolist and try to shut down at each occasion the effort of such large community to provide the world an open alternative. What am I missing?

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