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Choosing a cloud API in a non-standardized world

IT pros waiting for a standard cloud API shouldn’t hold their breath. With no standard API on the horizon, what’s a cloud developer to do?

Whether you use a public cloud service provider or maintain a private cloud, you are faced with the task of managing...

server instances. With Infrastructure as a Service, IT teams create and manage instances and perform load balancing and storage management using a control panel and an API. But different cloud vendors provide different APIs. With no standard cloud API in sight, how can IT pros maintain control and compatibility with current and future cloud services?

Several organizations have attempted to create a standard API for cloud computing. The Distributed Management Task Force (DMTF), for example, has an initiative to create standards for clouds; its draft specification is called the Cloud Infrastructure Management Interface (CIMI) Model and REST Interface over HTTP.

The European organization ETSI has published several studies regarding cloud technologies as well as some early APIs that apply more to grid computing than cloud computing. And Open Grid Forum produced a cloud-specific API; however, it’s only partially complete, as it doesn’t offer any monitoring or billing methods. Specifications for those features are in progress.

Next Steps

Prepare for API challenges in multicloud

This was last published in April 2012

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The OpenStack API is not a "standard". Please don't add to the confusion between open source and standards.
While it's true that there is not a single Cloud API standard, there are many tools that can simplify this for you. Platforms like Rightscale, Dell Cloud Manager (formerly enStratius), jClouds and several others will abstract the APIs for you. Also, many of the automation tools (Chef, Puppet, Ansible, SaltStack) are beginning to integrate more ways to natively call APIs. 
Right, "the cloud" doesn't have a standard API and it may never have that. The big cloud companies like Amazon and Google, create their own API to work within their own system. 

My advice would be to learn whatever is most applicable to you. That is most likely what you are using at the day job. Learn that and learn it well. When you change companies and they are using a different platform, you'll find that many of the concepts are the same. Learning the new system will take some work, but it won't kill you.