Cloud computing may change the meaning of ‘Open’ – to emphasise data portability ..

I spent a fascinating day at the State of the Net conference in Washington DC where I was also speaking.

Lots of blogs to come on this .. since almost all the sessions were extremely insightful ..

So, I will split the blogs into topical ones

Firstly, in the Cloud computing policy session, I raised the following question:

Cloud computing could change the definition of ‘Open’ and place an emphasis on Data portability – and reduce the emphasis on Open source ..

The rationale is as follows:

a) ‘Open’ means many things to many people – for instance it could mean -

• Open source – and especially it’s impact on devices

• Open standards

• Open APIs i.e. Application Programming Interfaces – for instance access to Location APIs

• Open access (freedom to contact anyone on the network),

• Open choice of enablers (for example – the ability to choose your billing system),

• Data portability (ownership of your data)

• The ability to access any application (i.e. not just the provider’s application) a.k.a the classic ‘Walled Garden’ debate – On deck/ Off deck

• ‘Open’ in relationship to the Cloud

• Impact on developers and a shift in value to the edge of the network

b) The Cloud is a new paradigm that may need a client as is evident by both Google Chrome and Microsoft Azure(and I agree with this idea that the Cloud will need some client side processing)

c) If that happens however, then the Cloud will not be ‘open’ at a process level i.e.Google’s cloud will not invoke an Amazon process

d) Also, Open source will become less relevant since the service is more important and Open source software will be abstracted by the service(no one cares that the service runs on which OS as long as the Service level agreements are satisfied)

e) Thus, Data portability becomes more relevant at the expense of other forms of Open

The general panel response was – Data portability is important and there are initiatives being adopted – for example by Microsoft



I will blog more on this as we go along .. but the insight is significant.

Open means many things .. to many people .. BUT .. Increasingly we are likely to see a greater emphasis on Data portability – perhaps at the expense of Open source


  1. Good post, but a correction: you don’t own your data. :)
    Have a read of this to understand why access matters more –

  2. Sam says:

    It’s easy to see why cloud computing – in all its forms – continues to gain momentum. Users can work anywhere and, if your computer breaks or your laptop is stolen, you won’t lose any data. We have just published an article on cloud computing here: