Just days after Go Daddy announced plans to enter the IaaS space, Verizon revealed its readiness to deploy IaaS and managed services as a result of the consummation of its technological integration with its recent acquisition Terremark. The newly formed entity, Terremark Worldwide, plans to roll-out hosting and cloud infrastructure services by leveraging a network of over 50 data centers located in North America, Europe, the Asia-Pacific and Latin America. Importantly, Terremark Worldwide intends to avoid vendor lock-in by empowering customers to migrate data from one cloud infrastructure to another. Currently, Terremark’s cloud infrastructure services support only the VMWare hypervisor whereas its managed services hosting offering integrates with multiple hypervisors. Kerry Bailey, President of Terremark Worldwide, noted that Terremark plans to integrate with other virtualization platforms as well as develop APIs to help customers avoid lock-in as part of its product roadmap over the next few years. In response to data breaches affecting companies across the U.S., Terremark also plans to provide security risk assessments and vulnerability analyses that leverage Verizon’s expertise in security, risk, and identity and access management services.
Go Daddy’s recent announcement that it plans to enter the IaaS cloud computing market throws yet another twist into the contemporary evolution of the cloud computing space. Although competing directly with Amazon Web Services and Rackspace, the domain registration and web hosting company proposes an IaaS solution called Data Center on Demand that provides fixed server resources for a monthly fee in sharp contrast to the “elasticity” and “pay per use” attributes of IaaS cloud computing. Moreover, the marketing brochure for Go Daddy’s Data Center on Demand offering asks its customers whether they have professional IT staff, noting, “managing Data Center On Demand machines requires technical expertise.” The disclaimer about professional IT staff reveals that Go Daddy has yet to build user friendly management consoles that do not require the use of shell commands. The service does offer load balancing capabilities that “can load balance any volume of traffic among an entire network of machines” and are “amazingly simple to set up.” The twist in the evolution of cloud computing represented by Go Daddy’s cloud computing product concerns its use of fixed pricing for fixed server resources. Data Center on Demand is currently in a limited release version scheduled for full deployment in July. Go Daddy’s entry into IaaS cloud computing marks a strategic move to leverage its ubiquitous brand name and gargantuan customer base to make a dent in the cloud computing revenues of AWS and Rackspace. Expect small businesses with technically savvy resources to lead the charge amongst their initial round of customers. Larger enterprises are likely to continue to stick with Amazon, Rackspace and more user friendly, pay per use models for now.
Whereas healthcare IT can boast inter-operability standards in the form of HL7 compliant standards that regulate the transmission of structured, electronic health data, the cloud computing space has yet to finalize analogous protocols for the exchange of data. As a result, the Open Data Center Alliance (ODCA) has become one of several organizations pushing for cloud computing inter-operability standards that promise to enable customers to avoid vendor lock-in or inaccurate transformations of their data resulting from data migration from one vendor to another. Featuring a steering committee composed of representatives from BMW, Capgemini, China Life, China Unicom, Deutsche Bank, JPMorgan Chase, Lockheed Martin, Marriott International, Inc., National Australia Bank, Terremark, The Walt Disney Company and UBS, the Open Data Center Alliance represents enterprise customers whose annual spending on IT totals $100 billion. In an effort to accelerate the adoption of cloud inter-operability standards, on June 7, the ODCA elaborated eight use cases and a vision of inter-operable cloud computing that is intended to spur standards bodies to collaborate with vendors to define a set of standards across the industry. Topics addressed by four of the eight use cases include:
•Cloud Provider Security Assurance and Security Monitoring
•Standardized Units of Measurement for IaaS to enable meaningful comparisons of price and functionality across vendors
•Environmental standards regarding the CO2 footprint of cloud computing products and services
•Technical architecture of virtual machine inter-operability and I/O controls
More generally, the use cases address the topics of secure federation, automation, common management, policy transparency and solution transparency. The Open Data Center Alliance has pledged to share these uses cases with the Cloud Security Association (CSA), The Distributed Management Task Force (DMTF), The Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards (OASIS) and TM Forum’s Enterprise Cloud Leadership Council (ECLC).
The following text is a partial transcription of Steve Jobs’s June 6 keynote address at the 2011 Apple Worldwide Developer’s Conference (WWDC), with a specific focus on Jobs’s remarks on the iCloud. Jobs introduced the vision for Apple’s iCloud product by discussing the contemporary difficulty of synchronizing files across multiple machines and devices. Apple’s CEO goes on to describe the comapny’s vision for iCloud and the changing nature of computing, more generally. Jobs proposes to relegate the PC and Mac to just another device and provide an infrastructure for a personal computing experience that enables synchronization across multiple devices. iCloud also pushes application updates to users in a way “that just works,” thereby absolving users of the responsibility of learning about cloud computing.
Steve Jobs, CEO, Apple Inc, June 6 keynote address at the 2011 Apple Worldwide Developer’s Conference (WWDC):
“About 10 years ago we had one of our most important insights and that was, that the PC was going to become the digital hub for your digital life. What does that mean? It meant that’s where you were going to put your digital photos, where else were you going to put them? Your digital video off your digital camcorder, and of course your music. Right, you were going to acquire, in the device or potentially on your Mac, and you were going to basically sync it to the Mac, and everything was going to work fine.
And it did, for the better part of ten years, but it’s broken down in the last few years. Why?
Well, because the devices have changed. They now all have music. They now all have photos. They now all have video. And so if I acquire a song, I buy it right on my iPhone, I wanna get that to my other devices.
Right. I pick up my iPad and it doesn’t have that song on it. So I have to sync my iPhone to my Mac. Then I have to sync my other devices to the Mac to get that song but then they’ve deposited some photos on the Mac so I have to sync the iPhone again with the Mac to get those photos and keeping those devices in sync is driving us crazy. So we’ve got a great solution for this problem. And we think this solution is our next big insight. Which is we’re going to demote the PC and the Mac to just be a device. Just like an iPhone, an iPad or an iPod Touch. And we’re going to move the digital hub, the center of your digital life, into the cloud.
Because all these new devices have communications built into them. They can all talk to the cloud whenever they want. And so now, if I get something on my iPhone it’s sent up to the cloud immediately. Let’s say I take some pictures with it, those pictures are in the cloud, and they are now pushed down to my devices completely automatically. And now everything’s in sync with me not even having to think about it. I don’t even have to take the devices out of my pocket. I don’t have to be near my Mac or PC.
Now some people think the cloud is just a hard disk in the sky. Right, and you take a bunch of stuff and you put it in your Dropbox or your iDisk or whatever and it transfers it up to the cloud and stores it and then you drag whatever you want back out on your other devices.
We think it’s way more than that and we call it iCloud. Now iCloud stores your content in the Cloud and wirelessly pushes it to all your devices. So it automatically uploads it, stores it and automatically pushes it to all your other devices. But also, it’s completely integrated with your apps and so everything happens automatically and there’s nothing new to learn. It’s just all works. It just works.”
Contemporary discussions about cloud computing typically revolve around the concepts of Infrastructure as a Service (Iaas), Platform as a Service (PaaS) and Software as a Service (SaaS). Amazon Web Services (AWS) constitutes the paradigmatic example of IaaS whereas Microsoft Azure aptly exemplifies PaaS while Salesforce.com illustrates SaaS. Where does Apple’s iCloud stand in relation to the Iaas, PaaS and SaaS trinity? Technically speaking, iCloud constitutes a SaaS application insofar as it represents a software product, delivered over the internet, that empowers users to:
•Synchronize photographs, music and iWork files across multiple devices such as iPads, iPhones and personal computers
•Remotely access iTunes or music files by matching them against iCloud’s online collection.
•Resume working where they left work on one device, upon opening a different one.
•Synchronize user settings such as passwords and browser settings across all devices.
•Enjoy free email, calendars and online storage.
•Leverage pushed updates to applications across all devices.
But taken as a whole, these features amount to a disruptive technology with the power to transform user relationships to personal computers in a way that the SaaS moniker fails to accurately capture. In other words, whereas cloud computing has traditionally acted either as a (1) platform for software development (IaaS or Paas); or (2) a mechanism for software delivery (Saas), iCloud promises to use cloud computing to create an infrastructure for personal productivity across PCs, Macs, iPads and iPhones. As Apple CEO Steve Jobs remarked in his keynote address at the 2011 WWDC conference, “We’re going to demote the PC and Mac to being a device. We’re going to move the digital hub into the cloud.”
Apple’s iCloud features all of the benefits that enterprises obtain from cloud computing in addition to some functionality specific to personal users. For example, just as enterprises often use cloud computing to harmonize updates across an ecosystem of machines, the iCloud serves the same purpose of keeping machines in sync. iCloud transforms the role of the personal computer from a platform for personal productivity to a means of inscribing upon a virtual environment for personal productivity. The personal computer becomes one point of access amongst many to an online space in which all of one’s personal productivity is performed. In other words, the iCloud promises to turn a cloud based, virtual environment into the fundamental plane for accessing music, pictures, writing, spreadsheets and more. Understood in these terms, the iCloud is less SaaS than an online space from which multiple SaaS applications originate and interact with a constellation of machines.
Read more about Apple’s iCloud, in Jobs’s own words, here.
Citrix System’s May 25 announcement that it intends to use OpenStack, the open source cloud computing infrastructure, as the basis for a new product called Project Olympus underscores how the open source tide is steadily shifting OpenStack’s way. Project Olympus allows customers to create IaaS clouds that leverage the OpenStack operating system code to create public or private clouds. The Project Olympus product contains two components: (1) a version of OpenStack certified by Citrix; and (2) a Citrix XenServer hypervisor optimized for the cloud. Although the product is designed for the XenServer hypervisor, Project Olympus supports the VMware vSphere and the Microsoft Hyper-V hypervisors as well. Customers requiring deployment using other hypervisors will need to use OpenStack. According to Citrix’s press release, the product will begin shipping later this year at a date yet to be specified.
Project Olympus marks the first commercialization of OpenStack in a move that reveals how open source cloud computing is never really open source. Eucalyptus, for example, provides open source APIs for Amazon EC2 that enable customers to migrate data between AWS and Eucalyptus cloud environments. That said, Eucalyptus deploys commercial code for its Eucalyptus Enterprise Edition (E3) features for management, SAN integration and VMWare compatibility purposes. Because OpenStack has yet to deploy this management functionality, we expect Citrix will compensate for this gap in OpenStack’s functionality in its Project Olympus product offering.
Earlier this year, Canonical’s decision to change the cloud computing provider for its Ubuntu Enterprise Cloud offering from Eucalyptus to OpenStack marked a significant affirmation for OpenStack. Version 11.04 of Ubuntu Enterprise Cloud currently uses Eucalyptus but the upcoming version 11.10 will make use of the OpenStack cloud computing architecture created by Rackspace and NASA in the summer of 2010. Version 11.10 is expected to be released in October 2011. The bottom line is that OpenStack’s fortunes are soaring even though Red Hat, which has recently released an open source cloud computing product called CloudForms, announced its revenues intend to cross the $1 billion mark in the upcoming fiscal year.
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.