Oracle rallies PaaS providers to float cloud interop spec
Aims to help customers swap platforms more easily
A consortium of seven technology vendors, including enterprise software heavyweights Oracle and Red Hat, have teamed up to produce an industry standard that they say will make it easier for customers to manage applications deployed in platform-as-a-service (PaaS) environments.
Called Cloud Application Management for Platforms (CAMP ), the draft specification defines generic APIs for building, running, administering, monitoring, and patching cloudy applications.
So far, PaaS vendors have all provided their own bespoke interfaces for such management functions, making it difficult for customers to move existing cloudy apps to new platforms, which may offer completely different management interfaces than the ones they currently use.
"CAMP defines a simple API that enables customers to have an interoperable solution across multiple vendors' offerings, manage application lifecycles easily, and move applications between clouds," Don Deutsch, Oracle's vice president and chief standards officer said in a statement .
In a blog post  on Thursday, Oracle principal cloud strategist Mark Carlson explained that CAMP is designed specifically for PaaS customers, who typically don't want to become system administrators for the cloud infrastructure hosting their apps.
To that end, CAMP operates at a high level, defining interfaces that represent applications, their components, and any platform components that they depend on, while leaving low-level infrastructure details to the cloud provider.
"It's important PaaS Cloud consumers understand that for a PaaS cloud, these are the abstractions that the user would prefer to work with," Carlson says, "not virtual machines and the various resources, such as compute power, storage, and networking."
Carlson says CAMP solves the problem of migrating cloudy apps from one PaaS vendor to another by mapping the requirements of applications and their components to the specific capabilities of the underlying platform.
What it does not attempt to do, however, is define any interfaces that don't concern PaaS management. For example, if a platform provides a message-service bus, CAMP does not define a standard way to post a message to it.
CAMP is also programming-language and platform agnostic. It doesn't define any interfaces that make it easier to migrate applications from Java EE environments to .Net, for example.
Joining Oracle and Red Hat in developing CAMP are CloudBees, Cloudsoft, Huawei, Rackspace, and Software AG, all of which currently offer management solutions for PaaS clouds. Carlson admits that this is a comparativley small group as industry standards efforts go, but he says that this approach has advantages.
"For example, the way that each of these companies creates their platforms is different enough to ensure that CAMP can cover a wide range of actual deployments," he writes.
So far, the group has completed a first draft of the CAMP specification  (with Oracle being the largest contributor). On Thursday it announced that it has formed a technical committee to continue the work under the auspices of the OASIS standards organization, with the goal of defining interfaces for the most widely available platform services within the next 18 months. ®