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Posts Tagged ‘Platform as a service

Don’t put all eggs in one basket! June 14, 2012 outage at Amazon Web Services affected many customers and other clouds that rely on AWS (e.g. Heroku). Instead of going back to the “is cloud reliable” debate, we need to acknowledge that no single service will ever be 100% reliable, and only real solution is using more that one service provider.

Remember when Apple launched their iCloud service last year? Remember what made them architecturally so different from 99.9% of other “cloud” services out there? They used both Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Windows Azure as the underlying platforms. Does anyone care to guess why? Perhaps the answer in the latest news. Just read these articles about Amazon’s or Azure’s outages. Can you find iCloud mentioned anywhere as one of the affected services? No. You will see Heroku, Quora, Parse, and Pinterest – but not Apple. If one cloud fails – they still have the other one to use.

I work for a cloud platform myself (Jelastic PaaS) – and let me make it clear: no matter how much work we put into making it as reliable as we can – any services can (and will eventually) have an outage. Even a service with multiple availability zones (like AWS or Azure) will fail from time to time (happened already). Don’t cheat yourself – if you need real redundancy – use more than one provider, and do yourself a favor – check their backend platform. If you think that using AWS and Heroku is redundant – you are wrong – they are both running on AWS.

And yes, this means that you need to try to pick the services that accept the same application code. If one of the services requires your application re-written your development cost will double (e.g services like Google App Engine require pretty much complete application re-write to use it – a bad choice as a second platform.)

This is one of the reasons why in Jelastic we made a couple of important design decisions early on: make it available from multiple completely independent hosters (not Amazon, but actual real credible hosting companies) and make it 100% code compatible for any Java applications (no APIs to code to, no code changes required).

Don’t want to be in the next outage news? Pick 2 hosters and get yourself some piece of mind (obviously do check your failover to make sure you can safely stop your service at one and switch to the other one! – the only redundancy that works is the one that you test as often as you can.)

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Everyone suspected that Windows Azure was not a blazing success. Now the official stats seem to suggest that it is pretty much a failure.

Microsoft does not tell the exact number of users it has on their cloud platform – Windows Azure, however a couple of day ago we got the latest vague estimate from the company. Quoting Mary Jo:

“On May 8, Microsoft Corporate Vice President of Azure Marketing Bob Kelly provided Merrill Lynch Technology Conference attendees with another tally tidbit. Kelly said Microsoft now has “high tens of thousands of customers” for Windows Azure.”

That was it, so now let me try to interpret what we have heard:

  • I assume that “high tens of thousands” means 50,000 to 100,000 customers,
  • Is that for paying customers or does that include free ones? I assume that if they were paying – Bob would have told us so,
  • Does that include Microsoft’s own teams? Probably, yes. Microsoft teams traditionally view other teams within the company as “customers”,
  • If I have a team of developers working on a project – do these get counted as 1 customer or multiple customers? If everyone is counted the number would have to be divided further. I would assume that the answer is 1 – otherwise, considering that SaaS development and operations are team efforts, the resulting number would get too small.

Now, let me be straight on that, if these assumptions are right, this is a very small number for a platform that was publicly launched in October 2008.

Just to put that in perspective, the company for which I work now – Jelastic (Java PaaS) – launched public beta in October 2011 and last month announced 15,000 signed-up users (including free, trial and beta).

As much as I love our marketing team, the marketing resources that we have are minuscule compared to that of Microsoft, so considering all the efforts that Microsoft made touting Azure everywhere and all the .NET developers their marketing can reach – Bob Kelly’s number is incredibly low.

The previous datapoints that Mary Jo quotes are in line with the current number:

“In 2010, the Redmondians said they had 10,000 Azure customers. In 2011, it was 31,000. (Microsoft officials declined to say if any of these were Microsoft users and how many were paying customers.)”

I have a lot of friends at Microsoft and a lot of sympathy toward the company, so I really hope that some of the assumptions that I made are wrong. If so, I think Microsoft should be more transparent about the way they count “customers”. Giving the number and then letting everyone make their best guesses on how it was counted – is a very bad tactics. People just assume the worst case scenario and this damages, rather than improves the company image.

 

As the world is moving to online in general and cloud in particular, what is going to happen to the $40 bln hosting industry?

Parallels (which is probably the largest software vendor for hosters) published video recordings from their Parallels Summit 2012, including this keynote fro their founder Serguei Beloussov. At 31:51 mark he talks about the area near and dear to my heart – Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) and specifically Jelastic in which I work. Check it out and see if you share Serguei’s views on where the industry is going:

Click to watch the recording on YouTube

 


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The posts on this blog are provided “as is” with no warranties and confer no rights. The opinions expressed on this site are mine and mine alone, and do not necessarily represent those of my employer Jelastic or anyone else for that matter. All trademarks acknowledged.

© 2008-2012 Dmitry Sotnikov

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