Cloud Computing Has To Be About Openness And Ease; Not Locking Developers In

from the let's-see-something-real dept

There was a ton of press coverage today over Microsoft's not-particularly-surprising announcement of Microsoft Azure, its attempt to get into the cloud computing business, competing with the likes of Amazon, Google's AppEngine and (now) Rackspace, among others. Microsoft entering this space isn't a surprise at all, so it's a bit disappointing to see the sheer lack of details surrounding the announcement. Amazon has succeeded in the space because of two main things: incredibly cheap prices and ridiculous ease-of-use.

Amazon recognized early on that its "cloud computing" efforts were a true utility offering. It needed to be pure plug and play with very low, easy to understand pricing, and absolutely no hassle to get started. It was so easy and such a good deal, many developers couldn't come up with any reason not to use Amazon's web services. While I initially thought Google's AppEngine might provide serious competition for Amazon, today I'm less sure. Google is using AppEngine more as a way to get startups to build their technology to work on Google's tech platform. That's the same thing that Microsoft will clearly be doing with Azure. Yet, for Amazon, it was never about locking developers in to Amazon's platform: it was just about making use of spare computing cycles. The fact that it wasn't so tied to Amazon's core business may actually be a benefit here, in that it lets Amazon be a lot more open and free about how people can use it, keeping it super cheap and easy. Google and Microsoft, on the other hand, get too focused on using their cloud offerings to tie developers to their own tech stack. I agree that someone else could come in and create a cloud computing solution that beats Amazon by being even more open and easier -- I just don't see either Google or Microsoft being that company.


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  1.  
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    danimal, Oct 28th, 2008 @ 12:51am

    Wait. What?

    You went from "sheer lack of details" in the first paragraph to "...that Microsoft will clearly be doing with Azure" in the second. Did I miss a couple of paragraphs.

    Microsoft has stated that there cloud will be open to run many different languages - including "non-Microsoft" languages and IDE's. That said, I do want to point out that you're putting the cart before the horse. The point of utility computing is that it is "utility" - you determine the partner that best fits your needs, not pick a partner then shoe-horn your development into it.

    I like what Amazon is doing, but I will certainly take a look at what Microsoft is doing here.

     

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  2.  
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    PaulT (profile), Oct 28th, 2008 @ 2:27am

    Re: Wait. What?

    While Microsoft has announced support for 3rd party languages, we're yet to see exactly how these will be implemented. All the details on the linked articles concentrate heavily on Microsoft products, and since MS have a long history of screwing over 3rd party technologies while paying lip service to "interoperability", we'll see.

    Maybe they will offer a truly open service this time, but surely you can forgive the seasoned industry watcher for being a little sceptical? Especially since this is another Microsoft "innovation" where they're merely following others and using their marketing muscle to push their own platform rather than interoperating directly with other standards and platforms.

     

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  3.  
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    Jake, Oct 28th, 2008 @ 2:44am

    Is It Just Me...

    ... or is 'cloud computing' a distinct step backwards to the bad old days of dumb terminals running every process off a central server, only with 'over the Internet' tacked on to make it look fresh and innovative?

     

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  4.  
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    Merijn Vogel, Oct 28th, 2008 @ 3:18am

    hardly any vendor lock-in with aws

    Amazons services are quite trivial, replacing them by some other solution should be relatively easy. S3 storage is much like webdav which could replace it. EC2 is exactly running Xen images. In communications Amazon is a bit cloudy, by using jargon like virtual cores, availability zones etc. Amazon webservices is quite easy to replace by own hardware or by someone who'd like to compete with them.

    See also the section about vendor lock-in this interview with werner vogels

     

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  5.  
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    chris (profile), Oct 28th, 2008 @ 6:34am

    Re: Is It Just Me...

    ... or is 'cloud computing' a distinct step backwards to the bad old days of dumb terminals running every process off a central server, only with 'over the Internet' tacked on to make it look fresh and innovative?

    there are two ways to run computers: completely centralized (dumb terminals) and completely decentralized (peer to peer). there are myriad advantages and disadvantages to both. neither is more advanced than the other.

    all developments in computing are a swing of the pendulum in either the centralized or decentralized direction.

     

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  6.  
    identicon
    Doug Robb, Oct 28th, 2008 @ 6:52am

    Client Server Rides Again

    What is all this bull*** about cloud computing? Marketing guys thinking they have invented something? Racks full of servers in some data centre is hardly anything new and client server, thin client, application servers, hosted applications, network attached storage,web services etc are all part of the mix of things people do with computers and networks.

    I'm not surprised Microsoft has turned its attention to leveraging its applications from servers for Internet users - networks are fast and robust enough for this to work well and 2) most of their biggest corporate clients do this already across their corporate networks so why wouldn't Microsft try to commoditise this?

     

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  7.  
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    neil, Oct 28th, 2008 @ 8:37am

    i could be wrong but when usually when microsoft builds a tool for developers it does really well.after all, it is what got them started in the first place.

     

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  8.  
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    Jake, Oct 28th, 2008 @ 8:48am

    Re: Is It Just Me...

    Well, I know which side I support; losing the ability to get any work done whatsoever when your Internet connection goes down is irritating and costly.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
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    chris (profile), Oct 28th, 2008 @ 12:17pm

    Re: Re: Is It Just Me...

    losing the ability to get any work done whatsoever when your Internet connection goes down is irritating and costly.

    if your business critical applications are delivered via the internet, then that internet connection is also business critical and should be treated as such. instead of redundant internal servers, your resources would be focused on redundant internet connections. cloud computing doesn't eliminate the need for infrastructure, it just changes the nature of that infrastructure.

    the idea that a modern office worker can continue to work during a network outage is largely a myth. a groupware, file server or other server outage will put most corporate types out of commission anyway and will still cost time and money.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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