I've been rather quiet on ComputerWorldUK the last week, mainly because of the huge distraction of getting to and then participating in the raft of events happening in Portland, Oregon this week around O'Reilly Media's Open Source Convention, OSCON. At the weekend I attended the third instance of the Community Leadership Summit, followed at the start of this week by a variety of smaller meetings catalysed by the critical mass of open source luminaries present in the city.
Last night, a group of people I know pretty well decided it was time to launch a new initiative
In discussion with one of its founders, former Microsoft open source leader Sam Ramji, he explained the link was even closer than just a nod to the name of OSI. The Open Cloud Initiative aims to reinterpret the principles of software freedom for a new generation of computing, just as OSI did back at the end of the 90s. The mechanisms of source distribution that allow open source licenses to leverage copyright law are largely absent in cloud computing, so OCI aims to "develop and maintain a set of open cloud principles by way of an open community consensus process" as well as to "Persuade organizations and vendors to comply with the open cloud principles".
Exactly how they will do this last part will be the most interesting part. OCI has been founded for the most part by people I'd consider to be from the BSD-ish end of the software freedom spectrum, and just as OSI was adrift from the FSF for many of its early years becuase of a similar weighting among its founders so OCI risks failing to gain strong support from the open culture movements. They need to also embrace the ideals of those seeking to be prescriptive about software freedom in the cloud, represented for example by the originators of the GNU Affero GPL variant (AGPL).
It's way, way too early on launch day to tell whether they will succeed in their mission, but personally I welcome the new Initiative and wish it every success as it seeks to rescue us from a future where cloud computing means closed computing.