Joyent

Joyent CTO Jason Hoffman Steps Down To “Pursue New Ideas and Projects”

Joyent CTO Jason Hoffman today announced that he will step down from Joyent to pursue other ventures after co-founding Joyent 10 years ago. In a blog post announcing his decision to leave Joyent, Hoffman noted that it was precisely Joyent’s spirit of innovation that inspired him to seek new ventures and opportunities as follows:

In short, that “think differently” spirit of innovation is built into our DNA and we’ve accomplished many amazing things living by it. It’s also something I value, and for that reason, I’ve made the decision to embody it in a new way by moving on to pursue new ideas and projects. I’ve loved the process of building Joyent into what it is today, as any respectable founder wishes, you look for people better than yourself who can go execute and you let them do that. The company is in great shape, with a brilliant management team and a change-the-world technology vision in very capable hands with Bryan Cantrill.

Hoffman will remain connected to Joyent as an advisor and noted that his departure was especially bittersweet given the successful reception of the Joyent Manta Storage Service, which was launched in June. Manta is a distributed object storage service marked by the integration of storage and compute. According to The Register, Hoffman noted that, in Manta, “you literally run the instance directly on top of the object directly in the storage, so it really would be like the equivalent of running your [Amazon] EC2 instance inside of [Amazon] S3.” The integration of compute and storage “stands to disrupt the storage and big data analytics markets,” according to Hoffman, even though the platform is just starting to build a customer base.

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Joyent Expands Instance Offerings To Match Amazon Web Services And Offers Reserved Pricing

Price wars in the IaaS space continue to heat up as Joyent joins the list of IaaS vendors that commit to matching Amazon Web Services in both price and functionality. Joyent recently announced that it was offering reserved pricing whereby customers can pay an upfront fee to reserve an instance for a period of one or three years and subsequently enjoy significant savings for having elected to “reserve” the commodity hardware for an extended period of time. Joyent’s reserved pricing option competes directly with the reserved pricing feature from Amazon Web Services, which allows customers to save up to 65% in fees in comparison to hourly, on demand charges. Joyent’s decision to offer reserved pricing comes soon after Microsoft’s recent announcement to match Amazon Web Services in terms of price.

In addition to revealing its reserved pricing option, Joyent revealed an expansion of its product line whereby its IaaS platform now offers a total of 58 instances, 13 of which mimic the most popular instances offered by Amazon Web Services. The 58 instances fall into the following five categories: Standard, High Memory, High CPU, High Storage, and High I/O. Joyent CEO Henrik Wasik remarked on the significance of the company’s recent expansion in product offerings by noting:

Our goal is to make our value fully visible to the market while continuing to make the Joyent public cloud easier to use. In dramatically expanding our compute products to meet and anticipate the breadth of customers’ needs, we’re reaffirming our commitment to make the Joyent public cloud truly accessible and affordable to any business.

Joyent’s goal is to underscore the value, accessibility and affordability of its public cloud platform. Importantly, it strives to accomplish this goal by mimicking the functionality and pricing of Amazon Web Services, the undisputed IaaS leader. Given the gargantuan challenge of competing with Amazon Web Services with respect to innovation, recent announcements by Joyent and Microsoft illustrate that matching AWS in terms of price and select functionality represents the strategy of choice for vendors seeking to expand their footprint in the IaaS space. Google Compute Engine (GCE) marks the likeliest candidate to deviate from the path of AWS mimicry, but the jury is still out on GCE’s ability to surpass AWS in innovation because of its recent release in general availability.

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Joyent Launches Big Data Hadoop Solution Based On Hortonworks Distribution

This week, Joyent announced the launch of a Big Data solution based on the Hortonworks distribution of Apache Hadoop that delivers enterprise-grade Hadoop storage and analytics on its high performance cloud infrastructure platform. Joyent claims that its infrastructure allows for accelerated distributed and parallel processing in addition to improved scaling of Hadoop clusters. Moreover, Joyent noted that Hadoop clusters running on its cloud were three times faster than clusters running on infrastructures of identical size. Speaking of the product launch, Joyent’s CTO Jason Hoffman remarked that its Hadoop offering “is just the start of our 2013 agenda.” Hoffman elaborated that the company intends to bring its innovation to Big Data as well as the cloud:

We intend to continue bringing our technical expertise to the market and reverse the typical understanding of big data implementations — that they’re expensive and hard to use. We’re committed to meeting the insatiable demand for faster analytics and data retrieval, changing how computing functions for the enterprise.

Joyent offered a schematic of its Hadoop infrastructure as follows:

On its website, Joyent identified three types of Hadoop services: (1) Data platform services for archiving and securing Hadoop-based data; (2) Data storage services that focus on data analysis and retrieval; and (3) Data management services that allow for the effective management of Hadoop clusters and ecosystems.

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Joyent Raises $85 Million In Venture Capital For Global Operations

Cloud computing company Joyent announced that it had successfully secured $85 million in venture capital funding today. The European group Weather Investment II led the round. Weather Investment II was advised by Accelero Capital, who also participated in the funding raise. Telefonica Digital contributed to the funding raise as a strategic investor. Speaking of the capital raise, Joyent CEO and founder David Young remarked: “Having worked with customers around the world, we see the demand for consistent global services regardless of how many countries our customers are operating in. This funding will enable Joyent to build out a global compute offering to assist customers in expanding consistent software, support and services to their clients.” The funding is intended to enable Joyent to develop global operations marked by the delivery of public clouds on every continent. Joyent’s SmartDataCenter software provides the technological infrastructure for the delivery of high performance public, private and hybrid clouds. Customers can use Joyent’s SmartDataCenter to create private clouds for their own operations or public clouds for use by third parties.

In May 2011, for example, Joyent revealed details of an alliance with ClusterTech whereby ClusterTech would become the provider of public cloud services to companies in the gaming, media, mobile and social media space in China. Under this arrangement, ClusterTech provisioned Joyent’s cloud computing SmartDataCenter software to service providers that licensed Joyent’s cloud computing technology to media, gaming and mobile companies in China. In licensing its cloud computing software to a third party distributor, Joyent leverages a business model that differs markedly from most of its U.S. competitors such as Amazon Web Services and Rackspace that retain control over the deployment of their cloud computing operating systems. Joyent’s existing investors include El Dorado Ventures, Epic Ventures, Greycroft Partners, Intel Capital, and Liberty Global.

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Joyent Fires Salvo At Amazon Web Services With Enhanced Joyent Cloud

On Thursday, Joyent announced the launch of a new public cloud computing platform that takes direct aim at Amazon Web Services in the increasingly competitive Infrastructure as a Service space. The newly improved Joyent Cloud offering from the San Francisco based company incorporates the company’s August 15 reconfiguration of its SmartOS operating system that allows users to deploy applications on Windows and Linux operating systems in addition to SmartOS. The new Joyent Cloud boasts four principal innovations to an upgraded infrastructure management system called SmartDataCenter:

Enhanced analytics
Customers will have increased visibility to the performance of their cloud infrastructure thanks to the deployment of DTrace, an open source analytics tool that Joyent had previously leveraged exclusively for corporate, troubleshooting purposes.

Safe storage, Increased speed, Data security
Joyent claims its Windows, Linux and SmartOS machines have superior processing speeds, data security standards and secure storage. SmartOS machines deliver even more granular analytics than their Windows and Linux counterparts.

Lower computational costs
Because Joyent’s servers are reportedly up to 14 times faster than comparable Amazon EC2 machines, computing costs for customers are amongst the lowest in the industry.

More predictable pricing
Joyent has shifted to a pay per use pricing model at a rate starting at $.085/hour, in contrast to their previous subscription model.

The enhanced analytics give Joyent a competitive advantage over Amazon Web Services, which has often been characterized as a black box when it comes to providing customers with visibility about the performance of their deployments. “Customers are going to get, in their user interface, the ability to measure real-time latency from the infrastructure all the way up through the application stack,” said Steve Tuck, General Manager for Joyent Cloud. Amazon Web Services customers frequently use third party applications such as RightScale in order to gain more insight into latency within a cloud stack.

Joyent customers can now deploy applications on Windows and Linux operating systems because of the company’s “porting” of the KVM hypervisor onto its SmartOS operating system. The integration of the KVM hypervisor onto SmartOS allows for hardware virtualization in addition to operating level system virtualization. Joyent founder and chief scientist Jason Hoffman hailed the new Joyent SmartOS as the “first hypervisor platform to emerge in five years” and the only cloud solution in the industry “that can manage both KVM hardware virtualization and operating system-level virtualization on a single OS.” After porting the KVM onto its hypervisor, Joyent open sourced its revamped cloud SmartOS cloud operating system. The outspoken Hoffman claimed that “this combination of virtualization options, data consistency through ZFS and access to DTrace for rapid troubleshooting, is the most powerful and efficient collection of technologies in cloud application development. I invite developers who use VMWare, Citrix, Red Hat or Microsoft hypervisor tools to try this open source package.”

Hardware virtualization refers to a scenario whereby a hypervisor enables one server to function as several servers operating independently of each other. For example, one server might thereby be virtualized into three servers, each of which runs a different operating system such as SmartOS, Windows and Linux simultaneously. Operating system-level virtualization, on the other hand, refers to a case where the operating system itself is virtualized. In this case, a virtualized operating system features discrete cases of the same operating system running independently. Speaking of the impetus for the company’s recognition of hardware virtualization in its August 15 KVM integration, Joyent’s Steve Tuck noted that “there are a lot of developers out there that say, ‘I just want Linux or I just want Windows. I don’t want to worry about a couple of small differences, even if they are minor, before I code.”

Joyent Cloud claims 13,000 customers including high profile names such as LinkedIn, Kabam, StackMob, and Gilt Groupe. The company’s aggressive push of its Infrastructure as a Service offering comes in the wake of competition from increasing OpenStack deployments, the enterprise oriented Direct Connect offering from Amazon Web Services, Dell’s announcement of a VMWare based cloud offering and HP’s forthcoming OpenStack based cloud. Joyent is a member of the Open Virtualization Alliance, an association dedicated to the adoption of the KVM hypervisor as a robust alternative to proprietary cloud solutions.

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Joyent and Qihoo 360 Technologies Poised to Gain Traction in China’s Cloud Computing Market

Recent announcements by Joyent and Qihoo 360 Technologies indicate that the use of cloud computing technology in China is poised to proliferate dramatically in 2011. On May 16, Joyent revealed details of an alliance with ClusterTech whereby ClusterTech would become the provider of public cloud services to companies in the gaming, media, mobile and social media space in China. Under this arrangement, ClusterTech will provision Joyent’s cloud computing SmartDataCenter 6 software to “service providers, data center operators and systems integrators” that will, in turn, provide Joyent’s cloud computing technology to media, gaming and mobile companies in China. In licensing its cloud computing software to a third party distributor, Joyent leverages a business model that differs markedly from most of its U.S. competitors such as Amazon Web Services and Rackspace that retain control over the deployment of their cloud computing operating systems. Joyent’s partnership with ClusterTech builds upon its previous entry into the Chinese cloud computing market in 2009 with a public cloud data center in the Qinhuangdao Economic and Technological Development Zone (QETDZ), Hebei Province, China. Meanwhile, Qihoo 360 Technologies, developer of China’s most popular internet security software, recently announced plans to enter the cloud computing space by providing online data storage. Qihoo CEO Zhou Hongyi mentioned the possibility of acquiring relevant companies in order to expand into the cloud computing and data storage space. The company’s first quarter revenue more than doubled to $22.9 million as compared to $9.7 million from last year, largely as a result of increased online advertising revenue. Qihoo went public in March through an IPO that valued the company at $202 million, with the IPO share value at $14.50. As of June 1, the stock is trading at $26.25 a share, up more than 81% from its IPO value.

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Company Profile: Joyent and Application Virtualization

Joyent is a cloud computing vendor based in San Francisco. Founded by David Young (CEO) and David Hoffman (Chief Scientist) in 2004, Joyent is an Infrastructure as a Service vendor whose business model targets large scale enterprises, particularly in the online gaming space. Joyent has created its own technology stack called SmartDataCenter that it either licenses to third party customers or uses to deliver cloud computing services directly to customers such as LinkedIn, Kabam and the Gilt Groupe. Unlike other cloud computing vendors, Joyent takes virtualization a step further than hardware virtualization by virtualizing its cloud computing operating system over a pool of hardware resources that guarantees applications access to hardware resources. Because Joyent’s cloud computing operating system is virtualized, every application that operates on its SmartOS platform has access to its entire fleet of servers, with the result that customers need not create procedures for provisioning additional server resources as necessary. Applications on Joyent’s SmartOS platform are de facto deterritorialized across Joyent’s collective pool of hardware resources.

Joyent’s website describes its application virtualization as follows:

The SmartMachine has been designed to be very transparent to the underlying operating system, Joyent SmartOS. SmartOS uses this visibility into the SmartMachine to provide all SmartMachines with as-needed access to a pool of all available resources on a single piece of hardware while still providing each SmartMachine with minimum guaranteed access to resources based on a pre-established fair share schedule. This transparency also allows the underlying operating system, Joyent SmartOS, to identify underutilized resources and use them to provide enhanced application performance management. In normal operating conditions, all RAM and CPU resources are either directly used by applications, or are being used by the operating system to optimize disk I/O and provide other performance enhancements to the SmartMachines.
Source: “Joyent: Application Virtualization Hosting”

Joyent’s claim here is that the virtualization of the SmartOS operating system on which all of its applications run enables it to maximize productivity by identifying “underutilized resources” that can in turn be deployed to enhance “application performance management.” A series of third party benchmarking tests by the IMS company claimed that Joyent SmartMachines, Windows Virtual Machines and Linux Virtual Machines outperformed its Amazon EC2 server counterparts. Specifically, the IMS company claimed that Joyent SmartMachine’s disk I/O, Linux Virtual Machine CPU and Windows Virtual Machine disk I/O were faster than the corresponding Amazon EC2 machine by factors of 14, 5 and 2 respectively. Everyone in the cloud computing space knows that benchmarking tests are notoriously difficult to appraise, but Joyent’s willingness to position itself directly against Amazon EC2 in both press releases and company webinars speaks volumes about its confidence to execute.

Joyent’s CTO Mark Mayo attributes its performance to its application virtualization design: “Most people have resigned themselves to painfully slow disk I/O in the cloud,” Mayo noted. “But these results demonstrate that they don’t have to settle for mediocrity. Joyent’s cloud architecture uses lightweight virtualization that doesn’t impose overhead on I/O, so SmartMachines are as much as 14 times faster than Amazon’s EC2 machines.”

Performance marks one of many factors to consider when choosing a cloud computing vendor, but the IMS Company’s results nevertheless beg the question of whether Amazon’s market share leader position has compromised the performance and speed of its EC2 product offering. Conversely, cloud customers will need to consider whether Joyent has the capacity to accommodate more and more enterprise customers that are likely to strain an infrastructure that already supports computationally intensive applications from customers such as Kabam, Social Gaming Universe and Neverbug Entertainment and ZooLife.

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