One of the biggest issues that we’ve been tracking is the idea of cloud scalability. Last week, I wrote about scaling with my exclusive interview with Facebook’s VP of Engineering Mike Schroepher on how he scales Facebook’s Platform as a Service. So it was interesting yesterday when Amazon announced its Relational Database Service (RDS) MySQL Cloud offering.
The net /net of the Amazon announcement is really about trying to be “Cloud Ready”. The keyword is "trying to be" Cloud Ready.
This bring up a bigger trend that we’ve been covering here . The question is: What does "Cloud Ready" really mean?
Amazon has been in private beta with this RDS offering for a while. From our Angle it’s really just an automated setup of MySQL. Nothing powerful. It’s something people can do themselves. Amazon is really just packaging it to be easier. It’s really nothing new. It’s like taking an aspirin to cure a brain tumor.
Amazon move with RDS is a short term patch to help them keep their position in the market. The game is changing on Amazon both from their competitors and the customers (the market). For Amazon yesterday’s announcement is about making running MySQL easier on EC2. Amazon didn’t make MySql Cloud Ready. All they did was just increase the size of their instance. This speaks to the scale issue that MySQL has in the cloud. For cloud as a platform Amazon had to make the instances bigger.
On the competitive front Amazon is turning into a hosting company not a computing company. The end game for Amazon is to move from a computing cloud to a hosting cloud. This doesn’t play well for Amazon the market share leader especially since upstarts like Rackspace have already established a viable Platform as a Service (PaaS) on top of their infrastructure. Amazon is actually playing into Rackspace’s hands here.
Competing on Price?
Amazon is striving to be the low cost provider. Others like Rackspace are differentiating on support and deeper functionality. Lew Moorman (@lewmoorman), President of Rackspace Cloud, talked with me yesterday about the future of cloud or Cloud Ready.
Lew’s message was clear.
"Price is not the only issue. Other factors are at play when you talk about moving from an infrastructure provider to a platform. Things like persistent storage, managed IP, and support, etc. They all cost money and have to be priced right into the platform offering. For many customers this thinking of integrated support is more in line with their cloud expectations just like traditional infrastructure."
The cloud platform market is growing. Customers are mixed. Some are going to be price sensitive and others are service sensitive. Like traditional hosting some will want to go with the low end others won’t.
What is Cloud Ready – It Isn’t About Price – It’s About Scale
Being “Cloud Ready” means specific technology, services, and solutions that take advantage of expertise and know how such as implementation and best practices in helping customers build to "Cloud Ready". There are significant infrastructure and platform issues around scale such as storage management, securing traffic flows between servers separate domains and virtual machines, managing resources in multiple locations, integrating user and application identity into the cloud, stretching virtual LANs within and across data centers using standard virtual private LAN services, on-demand provisioning, and orchestration of resources just to name a few.
These kinds of issues are essential to successful delivery of cloud computing services or being “Cloud Ready”. Security and trust play critical roles in the delivery of cloud services. Cloud providers must provide a trusted platform for their customers.
Bottom Line in Layman’s Terms: It takes a boatload of technology, knowledge, and experience (translation scale) to build both infrastructure and platform services to be "Cloud Ready" at scale.
Therefore, price sensitive customers looking for Platform as a Service will get what they pay for – a cheap hosting platform.
Implications for the Emerging Cloud Market
All of this has implications for the cloud industry. First, infrastructure has become commoditized as evidenced by Amazon’s announcement yesterday in their move from Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) to Platform as a Service (PasS). Second, the emphasis of scale in a open non-proprietary way. That is platforms need to work up and down the stack as evidenced by the differences between Rackspace and Amazon’s approaches become clear. Rackspace is open and Amazon is proprietary. Third, security is critical. Securing the infrastructure is the ante for large deployments.
The "Cloud Ready" movement is very important for infrastructure, platforms, and applications to converge across all networks. Although important and relevant, it’s early. The vendors that are open and innovative will win. The wildcard variable in all of this – the role "open source" plays. The maturation of open source is leveling the playing field. It’s opening the market and threatening the market incumbents that have historically been dominating.
Winners will be determined by who can scale the delivery of services, who can secure it, and who is open. In today’s market open, secure, and scalable wins every time.
Closed, unsecured, and proprietary loses.
Slashdot has a story that follows up on the No Sql movement mentioned above.
‘Unprecedented data volumes are driving businesses to look at alternatives to the traditional relational database technology that has served us well for over thirty years. Collectively, these alternatives have become known as NoSQL databases. The fundamental problem is that relational databases cannot handle many modern workloads. There are three specific problem areas: scaling out to data sets like Digg’s (3 TB for green badges) or Facebook’s (50 TB for inbox search) or eBay’s (2 PB overall); per-server performance; and rigid schema design.’
Source of the Slashdot NOSQL story is here.