Amazon Web Services Not Just for Early Adopters

logo_awsAmazon Web Services’ platform is increasingly gaining popularity beyond Web 2.0 and video companies. Case in point is the Amazon Web Services Start-Up Challenge, whose seven finalists are a diverse group of companies, among them Knewton, which provides live online educational testing prep services; remote health record management software firm MedCommons; Pixily, which digitizes paper documents and stores them for later retrieval; and Zephyr, an enterprise software testing services firm. The range represented by these startups is in sharp contrast to last year, when the challenge was dominated by early adopters of AWS. And it’s a good sign for Amazon, offering proof that its vision of cloud computing has started to spread beyond the cozy and sometimes narcissistic confines of Silicon Valley.
The winner of last year’s inaugural competition was web video company Ooyala, an entrant in the busy video platform space. This year’s grand prize winner, to be announced in November, will get $50,000 in cash, $50,000 worth of AWS services and mentoring from an AWS executive — and may even snare an investment offer from the company itself.

Enomaly: An Open Source Cloud For the Enterprise

Enomaly is trying to sell big business on its open-source cloud management and provisioning software by renaming it and packaging it with enterprise-level support. The software, formerly known as Enomalism, will now use the Enomaly Elastic Computing Platform as its new moniker.

RightScale Makes Multiple Clouds Work

As corporate giants get more interested in managing clouds, startups already in the sector are defending their turf and trying to make cloud computing more enterprise friendly. RightScale, a one-year-old startup that offers a management platform for Amazon’s Web Services said today that it now can offer the same management for clouds provided by GoGrid and FlexiScale. It also says it’s working with Rackspace to integrate information from the Mosso and F5 clouds.

For enterprise customers that want to operate their software on multiple operating systems or on multiple platforms the news could be compelling. Essentially, RightScale is offering customers a one-stop-shop for managing and provisioning different types of clouds. With such an offering it’s as easy to run applications in Windows-based clouds offered by GoGrid as in Linux-based clouds as offered by Amazon.

This will help with the problems of ensuring reliability and the pain of dealing with platform specific clouds, issues I wrote about a few months ago in why enterprises are not ready to trust the cloud.

Forrester Defines the Cloud, But We Beg to Differ

A new report out from Forrester takes a chart-filled look at cloud computing, offering the analyst firm’s own definition of the cloud and attempting to dispel three myths they have noticed. Since we at GigaOM buy pretty heavily into two of these so-called myths — namely that a cloud is comprised of a scalable virtualized server environment and that it’s a low-margin business — I was eager to see where we had been led astray.

But I don’t think we have been. The report takes a big tent approach to clouds, applying the cloud moniker to both the end user market and to a class of goods it calls infrastructure-as-a-service. That’s far above the hardware level where Amazon, Mosso and GoGrid sit, and includes software-as-a-service and even consumer web applications like Zillow or Flickr. Such a broad definition doesn’t really help clear any of the fog for the industry, and would likely only serve to make the term “cloud” even more of a marketing tool than it already is. Read More about Forrester Defines the Cloud, But We Beg to Differ

Of Parascale & Other Cloud Computing News

Parascale, a Cupertino, Calif-based start-up that has developed a storage file system for a cloud of computers announced that it had attracted $11.37 million in Series A funding from Charles River Ventures and Menlo Ventures. The company recently changed its chief executive and brought in Sajai Krishnan, a former NetApp executive to run the company.

I spoke to Sajai briefly this morning, though I have not had a chance to dig deeply into the company’s technology just yet. The company is going to officially release its software, currently in trials in Fall 2008. It is targeting the streaming media/video industry and others who want to get storage for less than 50 cents a gigabyte. Others like ISPs can use it to set up their own grids and offer competitors to AWS.

Read More about Of Parascale & Other Cloud Computing News

A Window on the Cloud

Outsourcing compute power is wonderful — until something goes wrong. Unfortunately, when an Amazon Web Service goes down it’s hard to know why, and it’s even harder to know how well a particular cloud is performing in the first place. To make the cloud more transparent, open source cloud management software vendor Hyperic has launched www.CloudStatus.com, a web site that lets a user peek in on the various compute clouds to see how things are running.

CloudStatus measures service availability, latency and throughput for cloud-based infrastructure and application services. The initial release provides metrics for Amazon’s Elastic Compute Cloud, Simple Storage Service, SimpleDB, Simple Queue Service and Flexible Payment Service. Read More about A Window on the Cloud

Amazon Now Serving OpenSolaris on EC2

During our on-stage chat at Startup Camp, Sun Microsystems CEO Jonathan Schwartz hinted at some big news involving Amazon and its web services. Today, the company officially announced:

  • Sun’s OpenSolaris OS will be available on the Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) customers for free. It is in beta for now.
  • Sun will provide premium technical support for MySQL database running on Linux and Amazon EC2.

These developments are meant to address the needs and complaints of the developer community. OpenSolaris, which comes with tools such as ZFS and Dynamic Tracing (D-Trace), will be offered for free, in contrast to some Linux offerings that cost money. For instance, if you sign up for EC2 and pick RedHat, it costs $19. ZFS allows instant rollback and continual check-summing capabilities, something developers have found lacking in the EC2 platform. This OpenSolaris on Amazon EC2 beta is currently available by invitation only. Some software vendors, including GigaSpaces, Rightscale, Thoughtworks and Zmanda, are already offering their solutions via Amazon Machine.

From OStatic: As Sun Microsystems’ JavaOne conference kicks off this week, the company has announced its free new OpenSolaris open source operating system. It’s available for download . The big question with OpenSolaris is how it may compete against Linux rivals, especially since it is a fully supported operating system. OStatic, our open source blog, has the details.