According to a 451 Research Vendor Window assessment, the battle for IaaS leadership has intensified even though Amazon Web Services (AWS) remains the clear front-runner. Respondents to the 451 vendor evaluations revealed that 57% of enterprise customers use AWS whereas Microsoft Azure is used by 42% of customers. AWS was cited as the most important customer in 35% of all cases, ahead of Microsoft Azure, which garnered 20% of votes in the same category. Rackspace earned the highest ratings for the IaaS vendor capable of fulfilling Guaranteed SLAs and was tied with AWS for its ability to fulfill customer needs. While AWS received high ratings with respect to Experience and Technical Innovation, Microsoft Azure, in contrast, was rated lower than most of its competitors with respect to Experience and Support for Open-Source Software. Meanwhile, in the private cloud market, the 451 Research Vendor Window Assessment found that VMware claims a presence in 70% of enterprises with its ESX and vCloud virtualization platforms. Nevertheless, the survey also found that more than 70% of VMware customers have deployed other solutions for private clouds such as OpenStack or Microsoft Cloud OS, for example.
Michelle Bailey, Senior Vice President, Digital Infrastructure and Data Strategy at the 451 Research Group, remarked on the significance of the findings as follows:
While the 2015 Vendor Window for IaaS shows Amazon Web Services as the clear leader based on multiple metrics, Microsoft Azure, Rackspace and VMware’s vCloud Air are becoming competitive challengers. As more mainstream customers move business-critical workloads to cloud environments, the decision criteria for evaluating potential vendors change relative to early cloud adopters, and in turn so do the vendors under consideration.
Here, Bailey notes how the IaaS assessment reveals the emergence of “competitive challengers” to the leadership role of Amazon Web Services as the criteria for IaaS vendor selection evolves in relation to the evolving maturity of cloud adoption within the enterprise. The bottom line here is that, even though Amazon Web Services remains the most widely used and, in many ways, respected vendor within the IaaS space, enterprises are increasingly reviewing alternative options to AWS, particularly as the space features an increasing number of robust options that can variously go toe to toe with AWS regarding attributes such as customer service and ability to support SLAs. More importantly, the battle for IaaS market share is likely to become even more competitive as the progressive maturity of Big Data technologies and analytics means that enterprises are likely to seek cloud platforms that can not only support, but also streamline and simplify the adoption of Hadoop and NoSQL. Regardless, exciting times are ahead for the cloud industry as IaaS vendors mature their product and service offerings in ways that give customers the confidence to select multiple vendors to minimize risks of vendor lock-in while concomitantly enriching their knowledge of the IaaS space by sampling the heterogeneity of offerings available on the market today.
Amazon Web Services recently announced the availability of machine learning technology that allows developers to create predictive analytics by using the same algorithms that Amazon uses to manage its supply chain inventory and operations. Amazon’s Machine Learning platform empowers developers and data scientists with the ability to identify patterns and predictive analytics for data stored in Amazon S3, Amazon RedShift and Amazon Relational Database Service. By using Amazon Machine Learning, developers can obtain analytic insights without writing custom-built predictive analytics-based applications that require complicated scripting, debugging, code deployment and application management. In addition to enjoying the benefits of preconfigured machine learning libraries and wizards that accelerate access to pattern recognition and predictive analytics, Amazon Machine Learning enables customers to enjoy the benefits of a scalable platform capable of generating billions of predictions per day in real-time. Popular use cases for Amazon’s Machine Learning technology include the detection of fraud, the ability to personalize web-related content and deliver targeted marketing campaigns that iteratively become more effective in conjunction with the evolving sophistication of the predictive model. Amazon’s Machine Learning platform competes directly with Microsoft Azure’s Machine Learning platform that was released in public preview in July 2014. By rendering available the same technologies used by Amazon’s data scientists, Amazon adds yet another incentive for customers to leverage its ever expanding portfolio of cloud and big data products and services. The increasing availability of machine learning technologies underscores the democratization of analytics enabled by the contemporary cloud and big data revolution, even though many of the solutions available on the market remain proprietary and attached to usage of a larger IaaS platform.
Piston Cloud Computing today announced the availability of Piston Cloud OS 4.0, an operating system that builds upon the company’s platform for deploying enterprise-grade OpenStack deployments by enabling customers to deploy Hadoop and Spark on bare metal. In addition to support for Hadoop and Spark, Piston CloudOS 4.0 will support Kubernetes, Mesos and Docker Swarm in a forthcoming release. As such, Piston CloudOS 4.0 represents a notable expansion of Piston CloudOS because it aims to support the larger vision of empowering enterprises to quickly deploy the infrastructure and applications they need by using a unified platform in contrast to siloed platforms and interfaces. In its current state, Piston CloudOS 4.0 supports the open source Apache Hadoop distribution but plans to support commercial releases of Hadoop in the future as illustrated in the graphic below:
The graphic shows how Piston CloudOS 4.0 aspires to become a one stop shopping ground for frameworks that allow enterprises to launch application development, application management and data analytics-related projects. The deployment of Hadoop on bare metal allows organizations to enjoy performance benefits in comparison to virtualized environments, thereby enabling in-memory technologies such as Apache Spark to function at a high level of performance. By delivering the capability to enjoy push-button deployments of Apache Hadoop and Apache Spark, Piston Cloud accelerates the operational agility of deployment teams that are interested in spinning up virtualized, cloud infrastructures in conjunction with bare-metal environments for their Big Data use cases. Moreover, by supporting technologies such as Docker, Mesos, Kubernetes, MongoDB and Cassandra, Piston Cloud gives customers an impressive array of frameworks and tools in what amounts to the industry’s first turnkey platform for cloud, Big Data and container management. Another advantage of Piston CloudOS 4.0 is that it gives users the ability to redistribute workloads across different frameworks to ensure the continued optimization of the infrastructure.
While Piston CloudOS 4.0 represents an important complement to Piston’s renowned OpenStack capabilities, the obvious question raised by this product offering concerns the significance of the company’s decision to pivot on its core OpenStack offering toward a platform that embraces a broader set of use cases and workloads. While the decision to shift course from a pure OpenStack-play strategy constitutes an astute move to gain an early foothold in the emerging market for integrated cloud, Big Data and application management platforms, the attendant question involves the long-term viability of commercial OpenStack solutions as a standalone offering, particularly in light of Nebula’s decision to close on April 1. Regardless of its implications for OpenStack, however, Piston’s new CloudOS platform represents a noteworthy intervention in the evolution of cloud and Big Data technologies by delivering a unified platform for OpenStack-based infrastructure provisioning, Hadoop deployment and, in forthcoming releases, container management and access to NoSQL as well. The bewildering heterogeneity of cloud, Big Data and application management technologies means that unified interfaces for the provisioning of infrastructures and associated data and applications promise to simplify the workflows and technology management overhead faced by organizations. Meanwhile, by tying OpenStack deployments more closely to contemporary data and application frameworks, Piston promises to increase the attractiveness of its core OpenStack offering by surrounding it with technologies and frameworks that are garnering increased traction in the enterprise.
Network virtualization startup Midokura joined the OpenStack Foundation on Tuesday as a corporate sponsor. Midokura is the steward behind the open source software-defined, networking platform MidoNet that delivers virtualized networking solutions for IaaS platforms such as OpenStack. Midokura open-sourced its MidoNet platform in November 2014 with the intent of democratizing access to its virtualized networking solutions while concurrently launching an enterprise-grade version of MidoNet that includes a layer of professional services aimed at production deployments. Midokura’s MidoNet platform claims scalability, performance and security advantages over the Open vSwitch (OVS) plugin provided by OpenStack. In a press release, Midokura remarked on the value of MidoNet to OpenStack deployments as follows:
As the OpenStack project now hits its five-year mark, nearly two-thirds of users recently surveyed by the OpenStack Foundation still have concerns about OpenStack Neutron. Midokura’s disruptive MidoNet technology fulfills this need by replacing the default OVS plug-in from OpenStack deployments to offer a much more scalable and efficient networking solution for highly virtualized cloud environment. The result is that OpenStack users can easily support production-grade deployments to fulfill explosive enterprise demands – all while benefiting from the freedom of open source by forgoing the need to lock in with a single private vendor.
Here, Midokura highlights the scalability benefits delivered to OpenStack deployments by MidoNet, particularly as it relates to environments with “explosive enterprise demands.” MidoNet decouples OpenStack from network infrastructures by creating an abstraction layer that lies between the physical network and hosts. As a result, users can create a distributed overlay networking infrastructure that allows for changes to the virtual network without corresponding disruptions to the physical infrastructure of the network. The larger significance of MidoNet is that it gives OpenStack customers an enhanced range of options regarding scale-out networking solutions, while remaining true to OpenStack’s open source philosophy and vision. By joining OpenStack as a corporate sponsor, Midokura stands to strengthen its already deep and collaborative relationship with the OpenStack Foundation and position itself more strongly to render MidoNet the de facto networking solution of choice for the OpenStack community.
Today, Pivotal announces that Pivotal Web Services will render Pivotal Cloud Foundry available in conjunction with Amazon Web Services as its hosted infrastructure. By making Pivotal Cloud Foundry available via a virtual appliance that supports its deployment on Amazon Web Services, Pivotal extends its support for IaaS platforms that currently include VMware vSphere, VMware vCloud Air and OpenStack. As a result of its support of Amazon Web Services, Pivotal embraces the creation of hybrid cloud infrastructures for Cloud Foundry that feature a combination of VMware or OpenStack-based on premise environments as well as Amazon’s famed public cloud infrastructure. In addition to its availability via one-click integration with Amazon Web Services, Pivotal Cloud Foundry is available as an Amazon Machine Image in the AWS Marketplace. The screenshot below illustrates Pivotal Cloud Foundry’s integration with Amazon Web Services alongside a bevy of other integrations and tools for managing a Pivotal Cloud Foundry deployment:
Now generally available, Pivotal Web Services with Enterprise support manages an AWS instance on behalf of the customer, thereby absolving customers of the challenge of managing the AWS environment as it scales and morphs in relation to the demands of application and data ingestion.
James Watters, Vice President and General Manager, Cloud Platform Group at Pivotal, remarked on the significance of today’s announcement as follows:
With the latest Pivotal Cloud Foundry release, Pivotal becomes the first major middleware vendor to include managed public cloud capacity in a software subscription at no additional cost. By offering hosted public cloud along with dedicated self-install on either public or private clouds, Pivotal Cloud Foundry provides the instant-on affordable capacity Line of Business (LOB) executives need with the robust security and automation features IT can also bring to private clouds. With today’s release, LOB and IT can finally agree on a single platform.
Here, Watters notes how Pivotal includes support for Amazon Web Services in a Cloud Foundry subscription at no additional cost. Moreover, by supporting a private cloud, Watters remarks on how Pivotal delivers enhanced operational agility to Line of Business teams that may have an interest in leveraging a public cloud for development purposes in advance of the decision to transport their applications back to the on premise environments specific to their organization. All told, Pivotal’s support of Amazon Web Services for its Cloud Foundry distribution aptly exemplifies the quintessence of Pivotal’s mission of enhancing enterprise agile application development by means of cutting edge technologies at the nexus of cloud computing and application development. In addition, Pivotal’s support of AWS for Pivotal Cloud Foundry dramatically enhances the potential for Cloud Foundry-based application portability and moves the needle of cloud native application development toward enhanced interoperability and the adoption of open standards for contemporary computing.
Roughly six months after HP acquired Eucalyptus in September 2014 and vaulted Eucalyptus CEO Marten Mickos to the position of SVP and General Manager of the HP Cloud, Mickos will be assuming a new role. Mickos’s new position will involve “customer engagement” and “the different communities required to accelerate HP’s progress” as reported in The Register. In his new role, Mickos will tap into his deep knowledge of the technology landscape to help identify technology companies that can support HP’s larger cloud aspirations and vision. Meanwhile, Bill Hilf will take responsibility for product strategy and management, Kerry Bailey will lead sales and Mark Interrante will take over Helion cloud engineering. Mickos’s position at HP was always in question given that Eucalyptus provided open source software for private clouds that are interoperable with Amazon Web Services. HP’s Helion, on the other hand, is based on the open source IaaS technology platform OpenStack, which stands in direct confrontation with proprietary IaaS platforms such as Amazon Web Services.
Mickos’s new role at HP represents a mystifying shuffle given that his pedigree for commercializing open source software is virtually unparalleled in the industry as evinced by his success with MySQL and Eucalyptus. Even though HP Helion does not support Amazon Web Services in the way that Eucalyptus did, for example, it leverages open source technology at its core in the form of OpenStack and as such, one could reasonably assume that Mickos would be the personality to lead Helion to IaaS prominence. All this suggests that HP is in dire need of defining its cloud strategy with respect to Helion and how it plans to differentiate itself in the commercial OpenStack space. There is also the question of how HP plans to integrate Eucalyptus into its product portfolio and benefit from the acquisition, particularly given the lesser degree of responsibility now assigned to former Eucalyptus CEO Marten Mickos.