Sunday, March 29, 2009

An Open Future for CCIF

It is with an eye toward an open future that we address the many apt criticisms levied at the Cloud Computing Interoperability Forum (CCIF) and the difficult circumstance in which this community finds itself.

As the organizers of the community, we would like to make our intentions clear. The following letter is not an edict or decree. It is a heartfelt attempt to reach out to our fellow community members so we might begin to move past recent events and together, discuss our options.

An Apology

While sifting through this week's enthusiastic and well argued posts, one issue rose to painful clarity: There is not and has never been an agreed upon definition of the CCIF. As organizers we have “announced,” at various times, conflicting statements on how “our members” should view this Forum. These definitions range from “cloud advocacy group,” which implies membership and organized offline activity, to the much narrower “email discussion group.” Due to our failure to better define our project each community member has been left to his or her own devices, latching onto any number of definitions.

At some point over the last few months, the community began to feel a sense of ownership of and membership in the entity CCIF. Until this week, we had not fully appreciated that the CCIF had become the de facto membership organization for interoperability stakeholders. Under this new premise, it is clear that our direct and private engagement, in the name of the CCIF, vis a vis the Open Cloud Manifesto may be viewed as a breech of this community's norms. For this oversight, we take full responsibility.

Open Cloud Manifesto

To this end, when the Open Cloud Manifesto is officially released on Monday, March 30, the CCIF's name will not appear as a signatory. This decision comes with great pain as we fully endorse the document's contents and its principals of a truly open cloud. However, this community has issued a mandate of openness and fair process, loudly and clearly, and so the CCIF can not in good faith endorse this document.

Knowing what we know now, we certainly would have lobbied harder to open the document to the forum before this uproar ensued.

Governance and the Future of the CCIF

Therein lies the problem. Consider this: even if we had secured the OK to open the Manifesto for discussion before signing in the name of CCIF, there would have been no mechanism by which to formally make changes or give approval. This is, or at least in our opinion ought to be, unacceptable to most of the community.

Therefore, though this is simply a proposal to get us started considering next steps, we feel that it is time for some degree of formalization. This means governance and, of course, some or all of the following components:

1. Formal mission statement, laws and articles
2. Formal membership structure
3. A board or other defined leadership structure
4. Formal decision making mechanism
5. Committees and/or formal interest groups
6. Goals, deliverables and activities
7. Wikis, websites and other properties governed by our laws and articles
8. Financial backing and/or formal associations with industry

If the community coalesces around formalization, CCIF's organizers will go to the greatest possible lengths to ensure the process unfolds openly and in the best interests of the cloud computing community at large, not for the benefit or self-aggrandizement of any specific member or interest group.

Regarding the specifics of the outcome, we are not prepared to propose or oppose any plan. If and when the time is right, we will create a wiki or other mechanism to hash out details. For now, let's start discussing whether this is the right direction for the CCIF.

Thank you and best wishes to all,

Sam Charrington, Reuven Cohen, Dave Nielsen, Jesse Silver (alphabetical)
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