At Amazon, Sun Coming Out From the Cloud

Sun Microsystems is getting ready to talk about its cloud computing efforts, including some kind of a deal with Amazon for its Amazon Web Services, according to CEO Jonathan Schwartz, who delivered a short keynote at Startup Camp in San Francisco. Startup Camp is an adjunct event to the JavaOne Conference that kicks off later this week. [digg=]

Following his keynote, I got on stage with Schwartz and asked him a few questions. I queried him about Sun and its cloud computing efforts, given that it was nearly a decade ago that then-CEO Scott McNealy started talking about how “the network is the computer.” In response, Schwartz said they have some interesting news coming out later this week. He refused to give the details, but he seemed pretty excited.

When I asked him about Sun — and cloud computing especially — in light of the recent trend in which startups now have more of an affinity with Amazon Web Services than Sun, Schwartz replied with a question: “Do you think it would make sense for us to partner with Amazon to offer free info on the cloud?” I guess, I said. “Then you’ll be paying attention to the announcement we make tomorrow with what we’ll be doing with Amazon.”

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RightScale Takes $4.5M for the Cloud

RightScale, a company acting as an easy front-end console for Amazon Web Services, has raised $4.5 million from Benchmark Capital. The Santa Barbara, Calif.-based startup was formed in September 2007 to help companies provision and monitor the web services products offered by Amazon. With this funding it plans to build support for more ready-made programs, such as pre-packaged load balancing programs or automatic MySQL setup on AWS.

RightScale’s funding is good for the startup, and it continues the inexorable movement of cloud computing toward the enterprise. Cloud computing is making the same journey as software-as-a-service, which was first adopted at smaller companies and then made inroads at Fortune 500 firms. Companies like RightScale will help smooth the way for enterprises that need to worry about reliability, security and compliance.

Being able to easily provision and track cloud assets is an important step in getting enterprises on board. It’s still early days, but as Kevin Harvey, a general partner at Benchmark, points out, “Paying for compute power based on need is going to be almost so compelling that people who run their own data centers will feel foolish.”

I’m not sure every enterprise will feel that way, but the trend is obvious. Currently RightScale only supports deployments on Amazon’s cloud offerings, but CEO Michael Crandell expects the recent additions of persistent storage and some basic support will only help RightScale’s business, as it makes it more enterprise-friendly.

The Cloud Grows Up

The cloud is growing up. Its rite of passage comes this morning with the announcement that Amazon Web Services will now provide support for users of its Simple Storage Solution, Elastic Compute Cloud and Simple Queue Services products. Amazon, with its launch last week of persistent storage, was clearly wooing enterprise users, and the offer to provide support signals a formal courtship.

This is a romance that’s been played out across technology for decades, most recently in the open-source market. New technology gets launched and academics, hobbyists, and other early adopters play with them. Eventually businesses start wondering if they might be able to play, too. But downtime, glitches and the sense that you’re on your own are big turnoffs for corporate buyers.

Amazon Web Services has decided it’s time to grow up and play nice with business. It’s offering two different service levels: One starting at $100 a month and the other, at $400. While smaller companies such as Nirvanix already offer support and better usability for business users, the Amazon brand will bring cachet to its offerings, no matter what else is out there.

Persistent Storage Boosts Amazon Web Services; Enterprise Ambitions

In an ongoing effort to improve its suite of web services, Amazon said today that it’s adding persistent storage features to its EC2 storage service. Why is this important?

As the AWS blog explains, up until now you were able to attach 160 GB to 1.7 TB of storage to an EC2 “instance.” (An “instance” is essentially the server.) As long as the server was running, the storage remained available. Once you shut it down, the storage disappeared. “Applications with a need for persistent storage could store data in Amazon S3 or in Amazon SimpleDB, but they couldn’t readily access either one as if it was an actual file system,” the blog says. Read More about Persistent Storage Boosts Amazon Web Services; Enterprise Ambitions

How Cloud & Utility Computing Are Different

Written by Geva Perry, chief marketing officer at GigaSpace Technologies.

We are witnessing a seismic shift in information technology — the kind that comes around every decade or so. It is so massive that it affects not only business models, but the underlying architecture of how we develop, deploy, run and deliver applications. This shift has given a new relevance to ideas such as cloud computing and utility computing. Not surprisingly, these two different ideas are often lumped together. Read More about How Cloud & Utility Computing Are Different