Back around the CAMPfire

Cloud platform API spec on track, due September

Elliot Bentley
camp-spec1

Six months on, we catch up with the authors of CAMP, a cloud management API being drafted by Oracle, Red Hat and Rackspace

The
CAMP (Cloud Application Management for Platforms)
specification
defines an API for interacting with
cloud platforms, and is being thrashed out by a cross-industry
group under the guidance of not-for-profit group OASIS.

Last time JAXenter
spoke to the people behind CAMP
, the spec
had only just been publicly revealed with minor fanfare. Yet six
months down the line, press coverage has entirely
disappeared.

The good news? So far, the spec has been “progressing very, very
smoothly”, says Martin Chapman, Oracle standards
expert and chair of CAMP’s Technical Committee. “We have resolved
30 technical issues that have been raised since the beginning of
the committee.”

This committee includes representatives from
Rackspace (represented in this call by Senior
Technology Strategist Adrian Otto),
Cloudsoft (CEO
Duncan Johnston-Watt and CTO Alex
Henevald
are on the line), Red Hat, Software
AG and WSO2
. More recent additions to the
TC’s 40 members
include Google, Fujitsu,
Huawei and the US Department of Defence.

Of technical issues sorted so far, most have
been “low-level [operations], how to do REST and JSON, a lot of
religious debates – no, sorry, lots of
potential religious debates,” says Chapman. “In
fact the TC has been very amenable to debate and resolving all the
religious aspects of REST and JSON.”

The
latest draft
[1.4 MB PDF], published earlier
this month, is so different from last August’s initial release that
“you might not recognise the two, sitting side-by-side”, says Otto.
New features of the API include use of HTTP PATCH, discoverability
of different serialisation formats and – best of all, they say –
extensibility.

The TC’s biggest quandary was to “make an API
extendable so that people can do things in a structured and
standardised way, but still have the freedom to do their own
flavour of something”, says Otto. The TC were so proud of their
eventual solution (outlined on page 46 of the current document)
that “there was actually applause when we carried the
motion”.

Specifications tend to take a notoriously long
amount of time to be completed; the HTML5 spec (or at least one
version of it) took six years to be fully written. In contrast,
CAMP is hoped to be finished by Autumn, with less than three years’
work under its belt.

“As it currently stands we are halfway through
our issues list, which is actually quite remarkable in such a short
space of time,” says Chapman.

“In the standards world, this is moving at Mach
2,” agrees Johnson-Watt, emphasising the need to get the spec down
“before the genie’s out of the bottle”.

But that genie may already have escaped. A
recent report
by Synergy Research Group
claims that the top three PaaS providers worldwide are current
Microsoft, Amazon and Salesforce – none of whom have yet to show
any public support for the CAMP specification.

When JAXenter approached the market leaders for comment, only
Salesforce replied, confirming that while the company is not
currently implementing CAMP, “we are always evaluating
standards/specs and never rule out involvement”.

“Amazon doesn’t seem to be playing much in the cloud standards
space,” says Chapman. “I mean, they do play in the lower-level
standards, but in the cloud standards they seem to be very absent
at the moment, and we keep trying. We will keep on trying.”

What the spec lacks now is feedback from end-users, and a 30-day
public review is “the next major step”. “I think we are scheduling
that for early summer,” says Chapman.

After that, a first version of the spec will hopefully be
complete by September, and the API will be ready for
implementation. However, even those on the board are somewhat coy
about exactly how CAMP will be supported in their companies’
products.

Chapman says that Oracle are “prototyping and implementing the
spec as we go along” while Henevald says that Cloudsoft “will have
something, I think, this summer”. Otto, meanwhile, admits that
while Rackspace has “platforms and services that could potentially
use the spec,” making it useful is “kind of a catch-22 – it’s much
easier to have the spec done and then have people begin
implementing it at that point”.

Still, with so many parties already involved in the spec there’s
reason to be positive. If CAMP is adopted even by just the
industry’s minor players and proves a success, it may put pressure
on the big boys to jump aboard. It’s worth floating the idea,
anyway.

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