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Thoughts on the “Simple Cloud API”

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Thoughts on the “Simple Cloud API”

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PHP developers with Cloud aspirations rejoice! Zend has announced a PHP toolkit (called the Simple Cloud API project) to abstract and access application-level Cloud services. This is not just YACA (yet another Cloud API), as there are interesting differences between this and all the other Cloud toolkits out there.

First it’s PHP, which was not covered by the existing toolkits. Considering how many web applications are written in PHP (including the one that serves this very blog) this may seem strange, until you realize that most Cloud toolkits out there are focused on provisioning/managing low-level compute resources of the IaaS kind. Something that is far out of PHP’s sweetspot and much more practically handled with Java, Python, Ruby or some .NET language accessible via PowerShell.

Which takes us to the second, and arguably most interesting, characteristic of this toolkit: it is focused on application-level Cloud services (files, documents and queues for now) rather than infrastructure-level. In other word, it’s the first (to my knowledge) PaaS toolkit.

I also notice that Zend has gotten endorsements from IBM, Microsoft, Nirvanix, Rackspace and GoGrid. The first two especially seem to have impressed InfoWorld. Let’s keep in mind that at this point all we are talking about are canned quotes in a press release. Which rank only above politician campaign promises as predictor of behavior. In any case that can’t be the full extent of IBM and Microsoft’s response to the VMWare/Cisco push on IaaS standards. But it may suggest that their response will move the battlefield to include PaaS, which would be a smart move.

Now for a few more acerbic comments:

  • It has “simple” in its name, like SOAP (as Pete Lacey famously lampooned). In the long term this tends to negatively correlate with simplicity, just like the presence of “democratic” in the official name of a country does not bode well for actual democracy.
  • Please, don’t shorten “Simple Cloud API” to SCA which is already claimed in a (potentially) closely related field.
  • Reuven Cohen is technically correct to see it as “a way to create other higher level programmatic API interfaces such as REST or SOAP using an easy, yet portable PHP programming environment”. But pay attention to how many turtles are on this pile: the native provider API, the adapter to the “simple cloud API”, the SOAP or REST remote API and the consuming application’s native API. How much real isolation are you getting when you build your house on such a wobbly foundation

[UPDATE: Comments from someone in the know:  a programmer working on adding Azure support for this Simple Cloud API project.]

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