Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Amazon CDN

Amazon has finally made a move into content delivery networks with CloudFront.

It'll be interesting to watch Akamai's response as Amazon pushes a utility model and we see a likely race to the bottom and a focus on volume operations. Since May, Akamai's stock has already taken a bit of a pounding from $40 to $13.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

How do you want your cloud?

As I've said before, I don't make predictions. So here is my non-prediction for next year.

When the Azure services platform is launched, we will see the creation of an ecosystem based upon the following concepts:-

  1. build and release applications to Microsoft's own cloud environment providing Azure and the Azure Services.
  2. build and release applications to a number of different ISPs providing Azure and specific Azure Services (i.e. SQL, .Net and Sharepoint services).
  3. purchase server versions of Azure and specific Azure services for your own infrastructure.
  4. buy a ready made scaleable "Azure" container cloud from Dell, for all those large data centre needs of yours.

Since the common component in all of this will be the Azure platform itself, then migration between all these options will be easy as pie through the Windows Azure Fabric Controller. If this happens, then the lower orders of the computing stack will end up becoming less visible and the hypervisor wars will become an afterthought. It could be Game, Set and Match to MSFT for the next ten years.

This vision however is only possible, if the network effect parts of Azure actually work (I'll post about that some other time) and the advantages of componentisation through an acceleration in business innovation are realised.

Of course, all of this will create a huge dependancy for all parties concerned on this technology layer but without a clear cut alternative, the pressure to adopt could be immense. The real battleground for the "cloud" has always been in building an ecosystem around the framework layer of the computing stack.

Anyway, this is not a prediction but simply what I would do in order to create a closed marketplace. Naturally, I'd prefer the market to be open and it'll be interesting to see how this pans out.

Monday, November 10, 2008

One step at a time ...

It was several years ago that I started to talk about portability and interoperability (what I later cheekily called patration) with large scale computing providers (what is now called the 'cloud').

I used the ideas of componentisation (Herbert Simon's work on the theory of hierarchy) to describe the acceleration of business evolution on the web that will result from the shift of the computing stack from a product to a service based economy.

I raised most of these points in various discussions at web 2.0 summit in 2006, hence I was pleased to read the following ZDNet post about this years summit in which industry executives such as Cisco's Chief Technology Officer, Padmasree Warrior, described the need for federated clouds and portability at all layers of the computing stack.

I couldn't agree more with the posts comment that "eventually, cloud computing providers at all of the layers will become more open and adhere to standards that allow for federation and movement between clouds. Maritz sees cloud computing as helping to drive the information economy and stimulate new information marketplaces."

Marketplaces, open source ... absolutely. My only word of caution is that people need to carefully consider why the framework layer of the computing stack is so important and especially the dangers that exist within it.

I provided a link to my OSCON 2007 talk on commoditisation, federation, utility computing markets and the need for open source standards - it's a bit old and tired but still covers most of the main points.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Remembrance Sunday

This is the time of year when we remember those soldiers who have made the greatest sacrifice on our behalf. I'm sure however they would prefer it if we didn't have this one special day and instead remembered them for the rest of the year.

Whilst we happily reduce a hero's income support because they have some paltry war pension, I notice that bankers (who don't have a special day) happily spend governmental support on plumping up their pensions and bonuses.

When you consider contribution to society, it is difficult to justify the huge salaries in the investment world when compared to that of a teacher, policeman or a soldier. The reason of course is that our economic system has little regard for contribution to our society and we delude ourselves when we consider it as being anything other than a system that needs active management.

If there is one thing to remember, it is that our current system rewards those who sacrifice the most the least and offers everything to the most callous and greedy who risk nothing.

Every day we enjoy the security and the benefits of an educated and ordered society. Every day we enjoy the peace and freedom that men and women have fought and died for. Every day we should honour all our heroes but above all else we should honour those who have suffered and died in conflict in the service of their country and all those who mourn them.

One day a year, is not enough.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Interoperability is not enough

Sam Ramji said: "My team's focus has been on making sure that this platform treats open source development technologies as first-class citizens" and here are some of the quoted examples :-

  • A developer using the Eclipse IDE can write a C# application that runs on Windows Azure
  • Gallery, the leading PHP photo application, can access Windows Azure cloud storage
  • A blog engine hosted on Windows Azure can authenticate users with OpenID.

This is excellent news but as I've said many times before, what we require is portability (or what I used to call patration)

In a service world, lock-in is not solved by interoperability alone. You require portability of your code and data from one framework provided by a large computing vendor, to another or to your own machines. This is my basic minimum in order for me to be happy with a cloud service.

This can be achieved with a closed stack (adopted by many providers) or an entirely open framework, however in the cloud computing world the frameworks (Azure, Google App Engine, Zembley, Jaxer, ReasonablySmart, 10Gen etc) are the potential standards that allow for portability & interoperability between these providers. This is what you need in order to overcome the current lack of second sourcing options.

In the service world, specifications and open standards are not enough. In a service world, standards need to be actual pieces of operational code. Whilst a "standard" can be a closed technology, it obviously creates dependencies of all the participants in a marketplace on the technology vendor who owns that "standard".

If you're going to compete on service, compete on service but don't try and convince us that either a proprietary technology is open because it uses some open standards or a proprietary technology doesn't create lock-in in the service world.

There will always be some CIOs who will rush head long into a gilded cage, I suspect most will be considering how to deal with second sourcing issues.