NephoScale Announces Release of Cloud Foundry-based, CloudPaaS Platform As A Service

NephoScale became the latest IaaS vendor to use Cloud Foundry as the basis for a Platform as a Service offering by announcing the Beta release of CloudPaaS, today. CloudPaaS supports Ruby, Python, PHP and Java/Spring in addition to database services that include MySQL. CloudPaaS allows NephoScale customers to take advantage of preconfigured application stacks for development without the challenges of provisioning and configuring infrastructure prior to deploying a platform for application development. Like many IaaS-PaaS bundles, CloudPaaS intends to entice customers to take advantage of the company’s NephOS IaaS platform as customers become familiar with its platform and customer service.

James Watters, Head of Cloud Foundry Product, Marketing and Ecosystem at Pivotal, remarked on the significance of NephoScale’s selection of Cloud Foundry version 2 as the basis for CloudPaaS as follows:

Hosting providers are increasingly adopting Platform as a Service in response to developer demand. Cloud Foundry dramatically lowers the barrier for ecosystem participation in the PaaS market to meet the growing demand from developers. NephoScale’s decision to leverage Cloud Foundry supports our vision to deliver a platform that significantly reduces development cycles and accelerates time to market for developers and cloud operators alike. Enterprises seeking to leverage Cloud Foundry can now consider NephoScale for both public and private deployments.

Here, Watters elaborates on how Cloud Foundry “lowers the barrier for ecosystem participation in the PaaS market” in a way that renders it increasingly difficult for specialized PaaS vendors to compete against a commercialized PaaS offering based on Cloud Foundry. Bolstered by partnerships with IBM, Piston Cloud and VMware, Cloud Foundry’s rise in the PaaS space has been remarkable in recent months, particularly given news of its integration with OpenStack and the associated announcement that Piston’s Joshua McKenty would join its advisory board. The key question for the PaaS space now is whether private, proprietary PaaS vendors will be able to gain traction or whether Cloud Foundry-based PaaS platforms will become the de facto standard given the promise of their interoperability with other Cloud Foundry-based products and integration with OpenStack.

Pivotal And Piston Cloud Partnership Intends To Refine Integration Between OpenStack And Cloud Foundry

Last Thursday, Piston Cloud (Piston) and Pivotal announced a partnership whereby Piston will deliver the community OpenStack infrastructure for Cloud Foundry. The partnership enables Pivotal to continue refining the integration of Cloud Foundry with OpenStack that Piston achieved last year. Thursday’s announcement means that Cloud Foundry’s developer ecosystem will be tightly integrated with Piston’s OpenStack distribution in order to ensure the resulting IaaS-PaaS, OpenStack-Cloud Foundry infrastructure successfully negotiates challenges related to continuous integration, rapid release cycles and scalability considerations. Piston’s co-founder and CTO, Joshua McKenty, will serve on the Cloud Foundry Advisory Board and Piston will continue to function as a partner for rapid deployments of Cloud Foundry.

James Watters, the head of product, marketing, and ecosystem for Cloud Foundry, remarked on the work specific to the integration in an interview with The Register by noting, “there’s a fair amount of work to make sure an IaaS and a PaaS like Cloud Foundry that automates itself through APIs all flows together very well” and that “every hour of every day Cloud Foundry gets tested on Piston.” Meanwhile, Joshua McKenty identified some of the integration issues that the partnership proposes to examine as follows:

We actually did most of the work to make sure Cloud Foundry could run on OpenStack last year. It’s not a tremendously complicated API, but it is important that it’s consistent and reliable. One of the things we’ve really focused on with Piston OpenStack is making sure the services are highly available, so as you scale up the scope of the Cloud Foundry environment on top, the IaaS environment can handle it.

Here, McKenty singles out the consistency and reliability of the Cloud Foundry API and the scalability of the OpenStack infrastructure in relation to the Cloud Foundry platform as topics for investigation. In a guest blog post for Cloud Foundry, McKenty further noted that Piston’s aim is to “to keep up with and continue to support the growing Cloud Foundry ecosystem” given that the fundamental goal of cloud computing is “really just about providing the computing resources to keep up with the fast-paced DevOps and Agile lifecycle.” In other words, Piston intends to “keep up with” Cloud Foundry not only from a scalability perspective, but also in the context of its rapidly evolving, agile-driven code base and enhancements.

Overall, the partnership represents a huge coup for Piston given that it was hand-picked from the cottage industry of OpenStack vendors and distributions. More importantly, however, the announcement underscores the weight of the market momentum in favor of open-source based cloud computing platforms. Moreover, Thursday’s partnership increases the commercial viability of Cloud Foundry insofar as it was motivated in part by customer requests and interest. The industry should expect McKenty to bring his expertise in OpenStack governance to Cloud Foundry’s emerging governance structure and help drive a rapid expansion in Pivotal’s partnering companies and organizations with respect to Cloud Foundry. As the integration between OpenStack and Cloud Foundry matures courtesy of the Pivotal-Piston partnership, we may even see the evolution of a formal collaboration beween OpenStack’s governance structure and Cloud Foundry’s emerging model of governance and open source software leadership.

CenturyLink’s AppFog Acquisition And The Increasing Coupling of IaaS and PaaS

CenturyLink’s recent acquisition of AppFog, a public PaaS vendor, speaks volumes about the contemporary state of the IaaS and PaaS space today. The acquisition is intended to enhance the portfolio of Savvis, the IaaS, colocation and managed hosting vendor that CenturyLink acquired in 2011. AppFog’s public cloud PaaS offering will be offered as part of the savvisdirect online channel. In addition, its platform will be used to deliver dedicated PaaS deployments for enterprise customers. AppFog CEO Lucas Carlson will join the CenturyLink team as Vice President, Cloud Evangelist at Savvis. The acquisition enables CenturyLink to differentiate itself from competitors such as AT&T and Verizon Wireless by offering an enterprise-grade public cloud Platform as a Service to complement its existing Infrastructure as a Service offering.

Key features of the AppFog platform include the following:

•AppFog’s PaaS platform boasts polyglot compatibility with Java, Python, Node, .Net, Ruby, PHP, MySQL, Mongo, Django, PostgreSQL and more
•AppFog’s platform enables customers to deploy application instances and infrastructures on public cloud platforms such as OpenStack, Amazon Web Services, HP Cloud Services and Rackspace
•AppFog manages data integrity and cleanliness issues specific to the migration of virtual machines from one cloud infrastructure to another. In an interview, CEO Lucas Carlson noted that the platform features the ability to transform a VMware virtual machine into a KVM instance preferred by OpenStack or an Amazon Web Services Machine Image.
•AppFog automates the scaling of applications by allowing developers to use a “sliding scale” that automatically resets the corresponding number of virtual servers and load balancers.

The larger significance of CenturyLink’s acquisition of AppFog, however, is the way in which it illustrates the increasing convergence of IaaS and PaaS offerings, and specifically, how IaaS vendors are actively seeking to diversify their portfolio by buying PaaS platforms in the event that—unlike Red Hat, for example—they lack the resources to build them. Public PaaS constitutes a notable feather in the cap of a large IaaS vendor whose customers desire the flexibility of deploying applications from a pre-fabricated technology stack as opposed to building one from scratch, particularly for the purpose of pilot projects. Separate from the dedicated PaaS revenue stream, IaaS vendors can expect spillage from customers that began as consumers of its PaaS platform, and subsequently decide to utilize its IaaS offering after becoming comfortable with the company’s customer support and activation infrastructure. Expect the industry’s largest IaaS vendors to continue to gobble up promising PaaS upstarts, as long as the PaaS in question can claim polyglot compatibility to some appreciable degree.

Quantifying Cloud Computing Market Share

Recent years have witnessed a proliferation of analyses about the size and relative market share of vendors in the cloud computing space. According to a post in GigaOM, UBS Analysts estimate that “the total market for AWS-type services will be between $5-to-$6 billion in 2010 and will eventually grow to $15-to-$20 billion in 2014.” Gartner, meanwhile, estimates that the IaaS market will grow from $3.7 billion in 2010 to $10.5 billion in 2014. Forrester predicts that IaaS spending alone will increase from $2.9B, projected to grow to $5.85B by 2015 in their recent report, Sizing the Cloud, Understanding and Quantifying the Future of Cloud Computing.

The discrepancies between these estimates of the current and future state of the IaaS space illustrate some of the difficulties specific to quantifying cloud computing market share, many of which of derive from the following reasons:

• The plurality of cloud computing modalities renders calculations of market share complex. While it’s true that the terms IaaS, PaaS and SaaS remain powerful terms for understanding cloud computing deployments, vendors are increasingly offering more than one variation of the IaaS, PaaS and SaaS trinity. Amazon’s Elastic Beanstalk, for example, constitutes a PaaS offering from the largest IaaS vendor in the space. Meanwhile, Red Hat offers an IaaS product called CloudForms alongside a PaaS offering known as OpenShift. Moreover, analysts may choose to include or not include SaaS, PaaS or consulting services from cloud computing products in their estimation of cloud computing revenue.

• Vendors often refuse to disclose cloud computing revenues, especially if they are privately held or otherwise multi-tiered businesses wherein cloud revenue is miniscule in comparison to revenues from other services. Amazon Web Services constitutes the paradigmatic example, here, but the recent acquisitions of Terremark by Verizon and Savvis by CenturyLink may serve as further cases in point, though most reports suggest that both Terremark and Savvis will function as independent business units within their parent company with detailed revenue breakdowns.

• Within the first half of 2011, Dell, HP, IBM, Oracle, Red Hat, Apple, Go Daddy and Microsoft have made increased commitments to cloud computing deployments in ways that promise to significantly impact the existing market share balance.

• The global nature of cloud computing renders quantification of market share challenging because many U.S. cloud computing vendors operate transnationally in partnership with other channel partners that may or may not report revenue in a transparent fashion. Consider Joyent’s partnership with ClusterTech and Qihoo 360 Technologies in China, for example, in this regard.

Despite these methodological difficulties, we can make some definitive statements about vendor revenue. Consider the following revenue data points, for 2010:

1. IaaS
a. Amazon Web Services: $500–700 million
b. Rackspace: $100 million
c. Terremark: $37.5 million, prior to acquisition by Verizon
d. Savvis: $15.2 million, prior to acquisition by CenturyLink
e. Joyent: $10- 20 million

2. SaaS
a. $1.3 billion
b. NetSuite: $200 million
c. Rightnow: $200 million
d. SuccessFactors: $200 million
e. Taleo: $200 million

Revenue for PaaS in 2010 is difficult to locate and widely believed to be miniscule. But given the sheer number and heterogeneity of cloud computing vendors and deployments, these numbers represent little consolation for analysts and investors seeking to understand trends in the cloud computing universe. How will Apple’s iCloud fit into this equation, for example? What about Facebook and Google? In what way will Microsoft’s Office 365 change market share in the productivity software space? Part of the difficulty of estimating cloud market share, here, involves the lack of a common set of standards for measuring the size of cloud computing deployments, in addition to the challenges specific to locating data for annualized cloud based revenue per vendor. Until inter-operability standards emerge, analysts will need to develop new methods of imposing discipline and rigor on the conglomeration of cloud computing forms. Meanwhile, vendors and customers alike should push for inter-operability standards that facilitate apples to apples comparisons of cloud offerings from vendors across the globe.

Apple’s iCloud takes cloud computing beyond IaaS, PaaS and SaaS trinity

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 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.

Top 3 Cloud Computing Market Trends for 2011

2011 has been an extraordinary year for cloud computing so far. Amazon Web Services (AWS) set the pace with an aggressive roll-out of products such as Elastic Beanstalk, CloudFormation, Amazon Cloud Player and Amazon Cloud Drive. Just when AWS seemed poised to consolidate its first mover advantage with respect to cloud computing market share, the landscape exploded with a veritable feast of product offerings, business partnerships and acquisitions. Every month another Fortune 500 IT or telecommunications company throws its hat into the cloud computing ring: Dell’s vStart, Dell’s recent partnership with SAP, IBM’s SmartCloud, Apple’s iCloud and HP’s BladeSystem Matrix mark just some of the big names and brands that have entered the cloud computing dohyo, or sumo circle. The cast of new actors has rendered the cloud computing space painfully difficult for analysts to quantify for the purpose of understanding relative market share and growth within the industry. But within this bewildering sea of change, three industry trends have emerged that deserve attention:

1. Outages across the industry signal demand outweighs supply
Demand for cloud computing services has begun to outstrip supply to the point where vendor processes for guaranteeing system uptime have become increasingly challenged. The Amazon Web Services outage of 2011 was the most glaring example of a lack of effective, scalable processes for one of the world’s premier IaaS vendors, but 2011 has witnessed notable outages specific to Sony PlayStation, Twitter, Gmail and Google’s Blogger as well. Expect more outages and service disruptions until the industry fathoms the time to develop processes for delivering on 99.99% SLAs as opposed to merely promising them.

2. Early Consolidation vs. the Proliferation of New Entrants to the Market
The past five months have witnessed Verizon’s acquisition of Terremark, Time Warner Cable’s acquisition of NaviSite, CenturyLink’s acquisition of Savvis and rife speculation that Rackspace lies next on the totem pole of potential buyouts. In tandem with the finalization of these acquistions, a slew of other companies such as Appistry, CA Technologies, Engine Yard, Flexiant, GigaSpaces, RightScale and ThinkGrid have emerged on the landscape and promise to collectively cobble together a non-trivial slice of the market while potentially transforming into significant niche players themselves. Expect new entrants on the scene, particularly in the open source space that will increasingly complicate the IaaS market share dominance of AWS, Eucalyptus, Rackspace, GoGrid and Joyent. Consolidations will continue but the market is unlikely to congeal into a few dominant players for quite some time.

3. The Rise of Open Source Cloud Computing Solutions
Rackspace, Dell and Equinux’s launch of a demonstration environment of OpenStack promises to change the industry by enticing customers to consider toying with its open source platform for free while paying for consultative support services associated with cloud design and management. Meanwhile, Canonical’s decision to change the cloud computing provider for its Ubuntu Enterprise Cloud (UEC) offering from Eucalyptus to OpenStack testifies to the strength of OpenStack and conversely, underscores Eucalyptus’s challenge in defining its value proposition as an Amazon EC2 compatible open source IaaS platform. RedHat’s open source PaaS product called OpenShift marks another leading contender in the open source ring by virtue of its deployment flexibility across the Java, Python, PHP and Ruby environments. Expect that open source IaaS and PaaS offerings will become increasingly robust and scalable. If open source solutions can demonstrate reliable, high quality portability across platforms, the market for less portable, private sector IaaS and PaaS solutions is likely to shrink dramatically. The fortunes of OpenStack, OpenShift and the recently formed Open Virtualization Alliance merit a close watch, in particular.