Interoperability Elements of a Cloud Platform Outlined at OSCON

OSCON Keynote Jean Paoli

This week I’m in Portland, Oregon attending the O’Reilly Open Source Convention (OSCON). It’s exciting to see the great turnout as we look to this event as an opportunity to rub elbows with others and have some frank discussions about what we’re collectively doing to advance collaboration throughout the open source community. I even had the distinct pleasure of giving a keynote this morning at the conference.

The focus of my presentation, titled “Open Cloud, Open Data” described how interoperability is as an essential component of a cloud computing platform. I personally think it’s critical to acknowledge that the cloud is intrinsically about connectivity. Because of this, interoperability is really the key to successful connectivity.

We’re facing an inflection point in the industry – where the cloud is still in a nascent state – that we need to focus on removing the barriers for customer adoption and enhancing the value of cloud computing technologies. As a first step, we’ve outlined what we believe are the foundational elements of an open cloud platform.


They include:

  • Data Portability:
    How can I keep control over my data?
    Customers own their own data, whether stored on-premises or in the cloud. Therefore, cloud platforms should facilitate the movement of customers’ data in and out of the cloud.
  • Standards:
    What technology standards are important for cloud platforms?
    Cloud platforms should support commonly used industry standards so as to facilitate interoperability with other software and services that support the same standards. New standards may be developed where existing standards are insufficient for emerging cloud platform scenarios.
  • Ease of Migration and Deployment:
    Will your cloud platforms help me migrate my existing technology investments to the cloud and how do I use private clouds?
    Cloud platforms should provide a secure migration path that preserves existing investments and should enable the co-existence between on-premise software and cloud services. This will enable customers to run “customer clouds” and partners (including hosters) to run “partner clouds” as well as take advantage of public cloud platform services.
  • Developer Choice:
    How can I leverage my developers’ and IT professionals’ skills in the cloud?
    Cloud platforms should offer developers a choice of software development tools, languages and runtimes.

Through our ongoing engagement in standards and with industry organizations, open source developer communities, and customer and partner forums, we hope to gain additional insight that will help further shape these elements. We’ve also pulled together a set of related technical examples which can be accessed at to support continued discussion with customers, partners and others across the industry.

Interoperability Elements of a Cloud Platform

In addition, we continue to work with others in the industry to deliver resources and technical tools to bridge non-Microsoft languages — including PHP and Java — with Microsoft technologies. As a result, we have produced several useful open source tools and SDKs for developers, including the Windows Azure Command-line Tools for PHP, the Windows Azure Tools for Eclipse and the Windows Azure SDK for PHP and for Java. Most recently, Microsoft joined Zend Technologies Ltd., IBM Corp. and others for an open source, cloud interoperability project called Simple API for Cloud Application Services, which will allow developers to write basic cloud applications that work in all of the major cloud platforms.

Available today is the latest version of the Windows Azure Command Line Tools for PHP to the Microsoft Web Platform Installer (Web PI). The Windows Azure Command Line Tools for PHP enable developers to use a simple command-line tool without an Integrated Development Environment to easily package and deploy new or existing PHP applications to Windows Azure. Microsoft Web PI is a free tool that makes it easy to get the latest components of the Microsoft Web Platform as well as install and run the most popular free web applications.

On the data portability front, we’re also working with the open source community to support the Open Data Protocol (OData), a REST-based Web protocol for manipulating data across platforms ranging from mobile to server to cloud. You can read more about the recent projects we’ve sponsored (see OData interoperability with .NET, Java, PHP, iPhone and more) to support OData. I’m pleased to announced that we’ve just release a new version of the OData Client for Objective-C (for iOS & MacOS), with the source code posted on CodePlex, joining a growing list of already available open source OData implementations.

Microsoft’s investment and participation in these projects is part of our ongoing commitment to openness, from the way we build products, collaborate with customers, and work with others in the industry. I’m excited by the work we’re doing , and equally eager to hear your thoughts on what we can collectively be doing to support interoperability in the cloud.

Jean Paoli, general manager for Interoperability Strategy at Microsoft

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