"What we'll do is we'll launch this [project] with some early code for the community so they understand the concept and from there, they will take it to the next level," Nicol said.
The PHP implementation of Simple Cloud API will be available as a component in the open source Zend Framework, to be called Zend Cloud. PHP developers can use the component to access existing libraries in the framework.
Industry observers offered varied perspectives on Simple Cloud API, citing similarity to ODBC database technology and noting an application orientation.
"What they are doing is something like ODBC/JDBC for cloud services," said David Linthicum, author of InfoWorld's Cloud Computing blog.
"Considering that most cloud APIs are Web services, thus leverage standard interfaces, I'm not sure what this is buying you. Perhaps just another abstraction layer between the native cloud service and your applications," Linthicum said.
"I'm not sure the intention moves beyond the application-level, so it's not a 'cloud-to-metal' lock-in avoidance system," said analyst Michael Cote, of RedMonk. "That said, what they're doing here is starting up a project to make a common set of cloud-related APIs for applications to use."
Zend is encouraging contributions to the project from the open source community, with a goal of generating Simple Cloud API adapters for virtually all major cloud providers. Zend plans to provide adapters for local services to make it easy to do offline coding and test against cloud services.
Zend Cloud adapters will be available for such services as:
- File storage services, including Windows Azure blogs, Rackspace Cloud Files, Nirvanix Storage Network, and Amazon 3
- Document storage services, such as Windows Azure tables and Amazon SimpleDB
- Simple queue services, including Amazon SQS and Windows Azure queues
Adapters such as those for Rackspace Cloud Files API will work with external libraries and not require changes to application code. Microsoft will contribute Simple Cloud API adapters and PHP client libraries for Windows Azure storage to future versions of Zend Framework, Zend said.
With these adapters, applications can leverage Azure features through the Simple Cloud API interface. Microsoft client libraries will enable developers to utilize Azure capabilities such as transaction and partial upload support.
IBM plans to contribute adapters for IBM cloud services and IBM's data storage products. This will let developers switch between public and private clouds and traditional data center environments, according to Zend.