By | April 21, 2014

That's what I call ART – an Acronym Rich Title 😀

Anyway…. a bit of a personal dilemma – On the one hand, I'd love for us all to be working against open standards, of which CDMI is one.  It’s just that any time I've looked at CDMI, it just looks and feels like communism – of which I'm not a fan.

CMDI – Communism

Huh?  Well…. CDMI is part of the SNIA Cloud Storage Initiative (CSI).  And that’s basically a committee of select folks from storage companies.  Mmmmm yeah…. basically it's 10 benevolent storage companies deciding what our world of cloud storage should look like – what's best for them us, how we can interact with it, what we should and shouldn't be able to do…..  Thanks guys.  Kinda looks like communism to me.  If not communism… than at least design by committee.  And while that's not quite communism, it's still something I'll personally go to great lengths to avoid!

Not only does design by committee have a tendency to *miss* the wider interests of the rest of us (the greater good) in favour of their own interests.  IT also tends to lead to standards that crawl at an agonisingly glacial pace, while the world around them moves on in leaps and bounds.

Just my opinions…. I may be wrong.

AWS – The Free Market

Now as for AWS as a set of APIs… well…. if I've compared CDMI to communism, I suppose I should compare AWS to the Free Market.  And honestly, I don’t think the analogy is far off.  Not that free markets are perfect, but for the most part they work, and I am a fan.

Free markets tend to adapt quickly to market forces, and that’s exactly what we need in the tech world, especially the world of cloud!  Let's be honest, although some folks moan about the ever shifting AWS API’s like S3, what do we honestly expect?  Do we expect Amazon to write a set of cloud service API's and then never change them?  I mean come on!  The internet, and the arena of cloud services, is changing at a pace faster than a blended vindaloo through old aged pensioner!  Seriously the cloud is fast paced world and we shouldn’t expect these API's to ever stand still.  

Sure Amazon has it's own agenda, but nobody is pretending they don’t.  We all agree on that and just get on with it.  It's like companies in a free market making a profit – that's how things in a free world work!  And I have to say I’d be stunned if the folks on the CSI/CDMI committees don’t favour their own employers agendas – they wouldn’t be doing their jobs if they didn’t.  Might be wrong on that last one…?

Why Aws S3 Etc Are Just Fine

Anyway… Brian Mitchell (@NetAppGeek) pointed me to an article he wrote for the communist party (;-)) which in turn linked to an article by Jerry Huang and Gladinet.  Both worth a read IMO.  Anyway…  some thoughts on Brian’s point that (paraphrasing) AWS APIs are moving targets and well…… they're Amazon's.  And with those points in mind you probably shouldn't use them…  Well NetApp seemed to make a good business out of playing the rat race (keeping up) with Microsofts SMB/CIFS protocol stack.  I'm sure it was painful at times, but they effectively built a stellar business out of copying the ever-changing haphazardly-documented, Microsoft-owned SMB protocol – and of course they had a killer NFS story, but you get my point.  What I' saying is evolving standards, evolving protocols, evolving EVERYTHING…. is just life and we get on with it and things are awsome!
AWS API’s, like S3, move onward and upward, and yes they serve Amazons interests, but in general they’re adaptive and they’re good.  In fact they’re de facto industry standards, whereas CDMI is de jure at best…. 

Brian then goes on to say "The Cloud Storage standard CDMI does not have this problem. CDMI is under the change control of a standards body (SNIA)…"  I feel like stopping here and closing my case 😀  “under the change control of SNIA" sounds awful to me!!!!  ðŸ˜€  But he goes on "…and accommodates requirements from all the cloud storage players in it’s standardization process".  Requirements from "all cloud storage players.."  Really!?!?!?!?!?  Call me cynical but I struggle with that.  Heart in the right place? …may be…  But saying it accommodates requirements from all cloud storage players is a real stretch IMO.


On the topic of OpenStack possibly being a better move.  Well…. I think they may be on to something with that.  I'm not 100% on it yet, but so far that’s cooking up something interesting from where I'm standing!  May be a vindaloo 😀

Quick UPDATE: 22nd April 2014

David Silk, Technical Director NetApp, pointed me to the list of commercial vendors and open source projects committed to CDMI – currently 11 shipping commercial servers with two more announced, and 9 open source servers.  Not huge numbers, and not…. well….. let's stop this downer I'm having on CDMI.  It has to start somewhere, and like I opened up with – I am in favour of open independent standards.

David also pointed out that in some areas CDMI is ahead of S3.  So apparently CDMI has life in it yet.  And of course as things like S3 get so big and have so much relying on them, they become harder and harder to innovate… but that's a whole other discussion.

Just my thoughts, but a top top subject, and one that's going to be cracking going forward!

7 thoughts on “AWS vs SNIA CDMI

  1. David Slik

    Greetings Comrade!

    Actually, my experience that the standards process within the SNIA, ISO/IEC, IETF, T-10, and other standards bodies are the exact opposite of communism, especially when compared to how restrictive single-vendor APIs (Amazon, Azure) and tighly controlled open source APIs (Swift). Any vendor or individual contributor can join SNIA, and contribute and influence the standard, as long as they agree to the IP policy.

    Within the SNIA, the Cloud Technical Working Group (which authors the standard) is vendor driven, because for anything to get done, people have to contribute their time. This means that everything that has been put in CDMI is because one or more vendor sees a customer need for specific functionality, and nothing is added to the standard until two different vendors see enough value in it to implement it. This ensures that we're not off creating new things that no one will use, and keeps us focused on the end customer. As a result, CDMI incorporates thousands of person-hours of deep technical debates, cross-vendor design and best practices contributed by over a hundred of the world's best experts on cloud storage.

    One must also keep in mind that CDMI is targetted towards a different set of functionality when compared to S3. After all, it's the Cloud Data MANAGEMENT Interface, where S3/Swift are a single-level bucket key/value store API. In fact, many implementations of CDMI also support S3 access.

    Speaking of implementations, here's a list of the vendors currently shipping CDMI servers:


    David Slik

  2. Eniac

    I am not a fan of CDMI either but

    From a semantic point of view, if you consider CDMI communism then shouldn’t we consider AWS – a single vendor, proprietary protocol – as dictatorship?

    Back to practice, I have been an AWS user for years now, i consider Amazon a benevolent dictator at best. And i am pretty sure that the only reason they didn’t abuse that power is because they are not the only could vendor (yet).

    No offense, but I think you have overly glorified Amazon in this post.

  3. Nigel Poulton Post author

    @Mark. Thanks for the doc.

    @Eniac. Good point about AWS as a dictatorship, and fair point that I may come across as having overly glorified Amazon.

  4. Peter Barnsley

    Hey Nigel,
    My own personal opinion from working in this industry is that AWS is a bit of a pain in the butt to use and to make matters worse they keep changing everything. Open standards are the way to go generally, because they are open 🙂 having said that it can restrict innovation. The best approach as others who have commented here have said is to join the board of these bodies and influence them.

    This is something I did myself when I used to work in the travel industry, I joined the tri ( and helped to shape their xml based standards.

    I really wouldn’t call a group of organisations working together to build a standard communism. It sounds rather like a democracy to me. When you throw into the mix the fact that no organisation is forced to pick up that standard (Amazon is testament to this) I think you might need to tweak your blog post. 😉

  5. Nigel Poulton Post author

    I know a guy called Peter Barnsley and he used to work in the travel industry too….. 😉

    Anyway, don’t get me wrong. I see both sides of the argument. And would prefer open standards, if – like you said about AWS – they could keep changing with requirements and demand. They can just be such a drag sometimes. And while AWS can be a pain in the rear, that’s not saying open standards always a first class butt massage – they too can be a pain.

    As for calling SNIA communism… I suppose it could be termed somewhat of a parliamentary democracy, just without the elections. After all, it’s a bunch of unelected people making the decisions for the industry. I’d call it more of a democracy if there were more large customers in the mix. I called it communism because the vendors that are on these boards have their own cash cows and interests to serve. Don’t want to rant about it because I was just thinking out loud at the time and am not passionate about it either way. Like I said, thinking out loud….

  6. Oldman60

    Thank to CDMI API, programmers can implement compatible S3, Swift or probably any future industries cloud standard API. I shall like communism if they give programmers so much freedom and flexibility.

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