Cloud provider deep dives at ECS 2011

This year, we’re adding a new element to Interop’s Enterprise Cloud Summit. We’ve asked eight public cloud providers (Amazon, Joyent, Microsoft, Rackspace, Salesforce, Navisite, Terremark, and Gogrid) and four private cloud stacks (Openstack,, Red Hat Makara, and Eucalyptus) to answer a set of predefined questions about their offerings.

The questions are designed to let attendees compare offerings—while they’re not strictly apples-to-apples, at least they bound the discussion.

Public clouds (here’s the slide deck)

  • Main elements of your service: What are your main service offerings (i.e. the top 3 technologies, services, or APIs your subscribers use?)
  • Pricing: How are those services priced? (i.e. what is the unit of measure, what do you charge, do you have an elastic pricing model based on usage?)
  • Security and certifications: What security or similar certifications do you have? (i.e. FIPS, SAS-70, PCI)
  • Data centers and zones: Where are your data centers or availability zones (i.e. Europe, US, China)
  • Customers: What are three companies building things on your platform? (One slide per customer profile is OK here)
  • SLAs and compensation: What SLAs do you offer (i.e. data recoverability, uptime, latency?) and how do you compensate those (i.e. service refund)?
  • Architecture: How is the system architected (i.e. what underlying stacks do you rely on?) A couple of diagrams are OK here.
  • Portability: How can people move things onto and off of your platform (i.e. are there APIs? Portable machine image formats? Private stacks they can run?)

Private clouds (here’s the slide deck)

  • Service library: What cloud services does the stack offer? (i.e. virtual machines, code execution, large-object storage, message queueing.)
  • OS, language, and API support: What operating systems, languages, or APIs can the user employ? (i.e. Python, any OS, etc.)
  • On what stack is it based? (VMWare, Xen, KVM, etc.)
  • Requirements & limitations: What are the underlying hardware requirements or constraints? (i.e. pairs of machines; Intel quad-core processors; sub-10-ms latency between nodes)
  • Portability: Is the stack portable to other stacks, or to public cloud provider environments? (i.e. can you move an AMI to Amazon?)
  • What standards or de-facto standards does it support?
  • How is it priced? (i.e. by core, by user, open source with a support contract, etc.)
  • Included tools: What management tools do you offer? (a screenshot or two is fine here)
  • Capacity, performance, availability: What are the capacity, performance, and availability constraints? (i.e. scales to a maximum of 20 nodes)
  • Global distribution: Can it work in a distributed, multi-city mode with additional redundancy?

Putting vendors on stage to talk about their wares can be a disaster, and ECS is a paid event with a focus on content. To be sure this works, we’re doing two things: First, we’re limiting each presenter to ten minutes and the slides we’re providing them. And second, if we don’t get the slides from a provider at least 2 weeks in advance, we’re either going to replace them (as you can imagine, there are plenty of folks who didn’t make our list of 12 providers that would like the visibility) or present the content ourselves (based on our research).

Hopefully this will keep the signal-to-noise ratio high. Anyway, it’s the first time we’re trying something like this, and it’ll be interesting to see what happens. We’ll consolidate the responses and publish them as a research paper once we get everyone’s answers.