In today’s high-tech world, companies rarely have it in them to wage full-on war against their competition, but any seasoned Web geek knows that’s simply because they’re too busy trying to outdo each other.

Of course, this isn’t always so. In fact, two of the biggest names in technology duke it out all the time. In their most recent tiff, IBM plays the schoolyard bully while Microsoft attempts to save face with a cool yet scathing blog response. The fire starter? Oh, just what's being called the most destructive force in technology.

The Manifesto

We probably don’t need to tell you about all of the exciting potential surrounding cloud computing. Touted as the technology of the future, Gartner research reportedly expects the market for cloud services will exceed US$ 10 billion this year. With a number like that, nobody can blame anyone for wanting to get the show on the road.

Of course, exactly how to do that is what’s got everyone up in arms. Should it be based on a set of Open Source or proprietary guidelines?

Sitting on opposite sides of the fence on this issue are Microsoft and IBM—a fact that’s been well known for a while, but wasn’t interesting until IBM (along with various other companies in favor of the open route) drummed up a document called the Open Cloud Manifesto: A Call to Action for the Worldwide Cloud Community. Funny thing is, this “manifesto” doesn’t include everyone’s two cents. We’ll give you one guess at who was left out.

Corner 1: The Open Source Overlord

The people over at IBM are completely enamored with Open Source, and they make that crystal clear in the manifesto. The document opens with: “The industry needs an objective, straightforward conversation about how this new computing paradigm will impact organizations, how it can be used with existing technologies, and the potential pitfalls of proprietary technologies that can lead to lock-in and limited choice.”

Corner 2: The Proprietary Potentate

While Microsoft acknowledges the good that comes with Open Source technology (see: Microsoft Azure) they have their reservations when it comes to applying it to cloud computing. Steven Martin, developer at Microsoft, states, “We strongly believe that interoperability (achieved in many different ways) and consensus-based standards will be valuable in allowing the market to develop in an open, dynamic way in response to different customer needs.”

Round 1: FIGHT!(?)

The manifesto was leaked before its embargo date (March 30). Microsoft’s response to being essentially left out of a fairly important conversation came in the form of a blog post from Martin himself. Clearly peeved at the seemingly purposeful exclusion, Martin tells all, including the story of how Microsoft was shown a private copy of the manifesto before being told that it had to be signed "as is," without modifications or additional input.

Martin also criticizes what he says appears to Microsoft’s attempt to control the evolution of cloud computing, his most candid statement being: “An open Manifesto emerging from a closed process is at least mildly ironic.”

Since the clash, few have actually held their breath in anticipation of another e-slap. Truth is, regardless of IBM’s clear bias and dodgy moves, or Microsoft’s biting response, the general consensus over how exactly to handle cloud computing hasn’t swayed in either direction. It looks to us like the growing amount of hyperbolic fire surrounding the issue is presently more exciting than the solution.

While IBM continues to ride the tiny wave of hype surrounding the manifesto, Microsoft is attempting to start a conversation about the best direction to take cloud computing. And they’re really adamant about making sure it’s clear that everyone is invited.

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