There has been a huge amount of talk about the need for standards in the cloud world. We recently joined the Open Cloud Manifesto in an effort to continue the dialog on the topic.
One of the key issues around establishing an Open Cloud is figuring out what should be standardized. To us, the key is to allow customers the ability to move applications from one cloud to another seamlessly. One problem inherent with cloud hosting is that it is, by definition, highly productized. So each provider will make choices that make moving somewhat complicated. But, these choices are also important for providing customers options in the cloud (for example persistent storage on our Cloud Servers offer vs. ephemeral storage on EC2). There needs to be a balance between ease of migration and product features.
One area we believe is headed in the wrong direction is the scalable database. The world already has two production-ready, next-generation databases: Bigtable and Dynamo. Amazon makes heavy internal use of Dynamo, but it is not available to the public (although SimpleDB may be based on Dynamo technology). Google offers access to Bigtable via App Engine, but doing so locks you in to their platform. Period.
Rackspace is strongly committed to helping establish a standards-based, next-generation database. And, we are putting our money where our mouth is.
One project that offers an open, scalable database is Cassandra. Originally developed by Facebook, the project is now part of the Apache foundation. We have a team devoted to the project and just last week, our team, lead by Jonathan Ellis, helped package up the first release candidate of the project. His discussion of the technology and this release is here. This is a first step for very bleeding-edge technology. We see great promise in the technology and would love to see broader engagement from other leaders in the cloud and developer community.
In the web era, scalable data stores are essential. But, the world needs standards in order to advance quickly. The relational database world standardized early, beginning with ANSI SQL-86 and -89. The results have been tremendous: customers can choose from many implementations, such as MySQL, SQL server and Oracle, without substantial lock-in. We hope to help a movement around standards of this type in the next-generation data store world. A set of technologies you can run with us, with one of our competitors, or on your own. Join us in support of these projects.