Why not pick one of the “open” APIs instead of CDMI?

There is a post by Jerry Huang , CEO of Gladinet on the problems with trying to be compatible with Amazon’s S3 API. Jerry suggest you look at OpenStack or a common library instead.

Amazon’s API (as with any cloud vendor’s API) is a moving target for sure, but the main issue is that these APIs are under the change control of a single vendor. Doesn’t matter how “open” the API is (in terms of copyright license) because the vendor can change it to disadvantage a competitor. So if you are a competitor, you would be foolish to use that API as the only interface into your cloud. So what happens? Each cloud vendor releases their own “open” API – similar but slightly different (enough to get around copyright), almost always RESTful and pretty much they all do the same thing.

So, you get the situation we have today with rapid proliferation of many different interfaces all pretty much the same. But that doesn’t help the poor clients. They have to code to N different interfaces to work with N different clouds. And since they are rapidly evolving, they have to keep up with all these API changes over time.

The Cloud Storage standard CDMI does not have this problem. CDMI is under the change control of a standards body (SNIA) and accommodates requirements from all the cloud storage players in it’s standardization process. More importantly, it was developed under the SNIA IP policy to help prevent any of the specification author companies from gaming the spec with their Intellectual Property. Thus cloud vendors can pick up the CDMI specification and implement it with confidence. They don’t need to come up with their own API. CDMI also has a standard way to extend the specification for vendor specific functions that still allows for core compatibility with other vendors. Want to do versioning? There is an example vendor extension in CDMI that shows you how.

From a client side point of view, Jerry also mentions common libraries. Jclouds is a good example of this (for Java). There also common libraries for other languages. While that can insulate a client from the many proliferating APIs, it’s a tough task to keep that library up to date with these APIs (just ask Adrian). The sooner the various cloud providers can implement the CDMI standard (even along-side of their existing ones), the sooner common libraries like Jclouds can just maintain a single adapter to a standard API.

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