When it comes to setting up cloud architectures, however, there is something to be said for simplicity, and it doesn't get much simpler than Ctera's CloudPlug. This small device plugs into a USB or eSATA hard drive and provides instant access to a NAS with a cloud-based backup component. At $199 per year for 10 GB, the company has it aimed at small offices and high-end consumers. Still, Ctera has lined up none other than Rackspace as the cloud storage provider, so it probably isn't much of a stretch to imagine it going into enterprise settings before too long.
Interoperability across multiple cloud platforms is also likely to be in big demand as the technology involves. That's probably why Microsoft, which apparently has seen the light in working with others in markets it doesn't dominate, has lent its support to the Simple API for Cloud Application Services program. Founded by development firm Zend Technologies, the goal is to provide PHP developers an open source framework for cloud-based applications. The idea is to define a set of interfaces than can be folded into Zend's open source framework known as Zend Cloud. At the moment, the program offers a series of reference interfaces aimed at compatibility among file storage, document storage and queueing.
The idea of a fully open cloud in which anyone can swap files and applications across any cloud infrastructure is intriguing, but probably a little idealistic at this point. The Internet provides such a structure, primarily because open exchange is the very reason for its existence.