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.

Enterprise Cloud Summit slides

ECS 2010 New York is a wrap. Over two days, an extraordinary set of speakers and end users came together to look at the state, and future, of cloud computing.

  • Folks like Accenture’s Dan Elron and Forrester’s Frank Gillett show us the big picture
  • Hands-on practitioners like Cloudscaling’s Randy Bias give us their view from the trenches
  • Fifteen end users discuss their enterprise and startup cloud adoption
  • We had detailed discussions on management, security, performance, and more.

The great content came from the participants; I just framed the discussion and moderated some of the panels. If you want them, here are my slides from the event.

First: opening remarks for ECS, on the democratization of IT.

(2 more decks after the jump)
Continue reading “Enterprise Cloud Summit slides”

Fireside Chat with Lew Moorman

The morning of day 2 at the Enterprise Cloud Summit wrapped up with a fireside chat with Lew Moorman, CSO of Rackspace (Mosso). Here are some of the more interesting quotes:

“We believe in the cloud. Sometimes people need to do certain things outside of the cloud (e.g. direct access to the physical drive for optimization). But you should go up as high in the stack as you can.”

“Sometimes you need your own house which you can decorate exactly how you like it”

“You have to decide if you’re going to build or use service providers. Running power & cooling are not core to any company.” Continue reading “Fireside Chat with Lew Moorman”

Paying for It: Cloud Costs and Billing Models

Next up at ECS was a panel session led by Allan Leinwand, Venture Partner at Panorama Capital

The speakers were:

Allan opened with the example of MCI, who owed a lot of its success to the introduction of a “Friends & Family” scheme. No new technology, nothing new, just a new billing model. This is why clouds are exciting, they offer an opportunity to revolutionise the domain with new pricing models.

How do cloud computing models affect budgeting? Continue reading “Paying for It: Cloud Costs and Billing Models”

What Elasticity Really Means

Next up at ECS was a panel session moderated by Ian Rae, CEO of Syntenic.

The Speakers were:

  • Jon Beck, SVP Sales and Client Services, OpSource, Inc.
  • Chad Swartz, Senior Manager, IT Operations, Preferred Hotel Group
  • Geir Magnusson, Consulting Architect, Platform, Gilt
  • Scott Clark, Director of Engineering Infrastructure, Broadcom
  • Josh Litwin, President and CEO, Memento Press

Definitions of Elasticity

Continue reading “What Elasticity Really Means”

Dispelling the myths of cloud lock-in

Over the course of 6 demos, the ECS team have shown how a single application can be moved between clouds with a minimal amount of code changes. Our video messaging application, which is fully detailed and can be tried for yourself at, was first written with a back-end and a front end on Amazon Web Services. We introduced load-balancing of the front and back ends with Rightscale, and tested this with SOASTA CloudTest.

We then showed how the back end can be moved in house with MongoDB, and today (pictured right) we looked at moving the front end to a Google App Engine application, and that this could be done with a minimum of code changes. Later today we’ll be looking at how to handle multiple levels and versions of a cloud application to form a virtual development lab with Skytap.

The Case for Cloud Infrastructure: On-Demand Economics

Day 2 of the Enterprise Cloud Summit kicked off with a panel session moderated by John Willis of Zabovo.

The speakers were:

  • Joe Weinman, Strategic Solution Sales, AT&T Signature Client Group
  • Neil Cohen, Director of Product Marketing, Akamai
  • Paul Mockapetris, Chairman and Chief Scientist, Nominium, Inc.
  • James Urquhart, Product Marketing Manager, Cloud Computing and Virtualized Data Centers at Cisco

What is the return on investment in the cloud?

Continue reading “The Case for Cloud Infrastructure: On-Demand Economics”

Google App Engine; towards an entirely abstracted platform

Mike Repass, Product Manager of Google App Engine took part in a fireside chat with Alistair as the final session of Enterprise Cloud Summit today. A wide variety of topics were covered.

How can people trust their hardware needs to Google?

“The App Engine is a customer of raw Google services the same way Gmail or anything else is. We offer the same security as those raw Google services which are built to scale – e.g. BigTable”

Why did Google take a platform as a service approach?

This approach plays to Google’s strengths. Google’s success has been to build hardware to serve vast amounts of data to millions and millions of people. The value proposition is more about abstracting away the concerns with machines. No instances, no reservation – pay as you go based on usage.

Are you going to make people better developers?

Hopefully! The billing by usage definitely influences the way developers code. There were radical rewrites of code when we moved to the pay as you go model.

Is there a class of application you wouldn’t recommend to put on Google App Engine?

Continue reading “Google App Engine; towards an entirely abstracted platform”