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Simple API Opens Up Cloud Storage

Microsoft is taking another step towards cloud interoperability with today's launch of the Simple API for Cloud Application Services project. The Simple Cloud API gives PHP developers a set of programming interfaces for common operations to access cloud storage services across vendors.

The open source project is lead by Zend Technologies, sponsor of the open source Zend Framework. Along with Zend, Microsoft, IBM and Rackspace are among the co-founding partners in the open source initiative.

With the Simple Cloud API, PHP developers can use three reference interfaces to target cloud vendors' file storage (Windows Azure Blob storage, Amazon S3, Rackspace Cloud Files, Nirvanix), document storage (Windows Azure Table Storage, Amazon Simple DB) and queues (Windows Azure Table Storage, Amazon SQS).

The Simple Cloud API is directed at cloud application services, not elastic compute cloud services, according to the project's Web site. One of the goals of the project is to define interfaces that will eventually become a component of the Zend Framework, called Zend_Cloud.

Microsoft first announced its support for PHP at PDC08 when it unveiled Windows Azure. In May, the company released the open source PHPAzure SDK on CodePlex in partnership with RealDomen, a Belgium-based Microsoft integrator. Microsoft wants to contribute the SDK to the Zend Framework. Even though it is still a CTP, RealDomen submitted the PHPAzure SDK to Zend for review in July.

Vijay Rajagopalan, principal architect on the Interoperability Technical Strategy team at Microsoft, stressed in a Channel9 video today that Azure is an open and interoperable computing platform:

"The value proposition of the PHP SDK is that the PHP developer doesn't have to learn the intricacies of Windows Azure Storage to start to build to CRUD operations using these strongly typed PHP classes," he explained.

The Windows Azure for PHP SDK targets Windows Azure Storage, which consists of Blobs, tables of queues. It also provides PHP programming interfaces for Windows Azure's compute and management services.

Today's announcement gives the PHP developer more product choice, said Rajagopalan. "I don't have to worry about which cloud vendor I am targeting instead I can drive my cloud application logic without worrying about different cloud implementations…It provides one simple API to access the common storage classes across heterogeneous cloud vendors."

Zend Technologies hopes the Simple Cloud API will bring attention to PHP and the cloud community and drive innovation. The current APIs are pre-production quality and are likely to change during the Zend Framework proposal process.

Open source efforts that help mitigate the perception of vendor lock-in in the cloud may help Microsoft get Azure off the ground. Are you interested in Azure? How important is openness and interoperability in your cloud development strategy? Express your thoughts below or drop me a line at [email protected]

Posted by Kathleen Richards on 09/22/2009

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