Of late, I’ve been talking to Amazon customers who are saying, you know, AWS gives us a ton of benefits, it makes a lot of things easy and fast that used to be hard, but in the end, we could do this ourselves, and probably do it at comparable cost or a cost that isn’t too much higher. These are customers that are at some reasonable scale — a take-back would involve dozens if not hundreds of physical server deployments — but aren’t so huge that the investment would be leveraged over, say, tens of thousands of servers.
Most people don’t choose cloud IaaS for lowered costs, unless they have very bursty or unpredictable workloads. Instead, they choose it for increased business agility, which to most people means “getting applications, and thus new business capabilities, more quickly”.
But there’s another key reason to not do it yourself: The war for talent.
The really bright, forward-thinking people in your organization — the people who you would ordinarily rely upon to deploy new technologies like cloud — are valuable. The fact that they’re usually well-paid is almost inconsequential compared to the fact that these are often the people who can drive differentiated, innovative business value for your organization, and they’re rare. Even if you have open headcount, finding those “A” players can be really, really tough, especially if you want a combination of cutting-edge technical skills with the personal traits — drive, follow-through, self-starting, thinking out of the box, communication skills, and so on — that make for top-tier engineers.
Just because you can do it yourself doesn’t mean that you should. Even if your engineers think they’re just as smart as Amazon’s engineers (which they might well be), and are chomping at the bit to prove it. If you can outsource a capability that doesn’t generate competitive advantage for you, then you can free your best people to work on the things that do generate competitive advantage. You can work on the next cool thing… and challenge your engineers to prove their brilliance by dreaming up something that hasn’t been done before, solving the challenges that deliver business value to your organization. Assuming, of course, that your culture provides an environment receptive to such innovation.
For months, there have been an abundance of rumors that Amazon was intending to enter the dynamic site acceleration market; it was the logical next step for its CloudFront CDN. Today, Amazon released a set of features oriented towards dynamic content, described in blog posts from Amazon’s Jeff Barr and Werner Vogels.
When CloudFront introduced custom origins (as opposed to the original CloudFront, which required you to use S3 as the origin), and dropped minimum TTLs down to zero, it effectively edged into the “whole site delivery” feature set that’s become mainstream for the major CDNs.
With this latest release, whole site delivery is much more of a reality — you can have multiple origins so you can mix static and dynamic content (which are often served from different hostnames, i.e., you might have images.mycompany.com serving your static content, but http://www.mycompany.com serving your dynamic content), and you’ve got pattern-matching rules that let you define what the cache behavior should be for content whose URL matches a particular pattern.
The “whole site delivery” feature set is important, because it hugely simplifies CDN configuration. Rather than having to go through your site and change its URL references to the CDN (long-time CDN watchers may remember that Akamai in the early days would have customers “Akamaize” their site using a tool that did these URL rewrites), the CDN is smart — it just goes to the origin and pulls things, and it can do so dynamically (so, for instance, you don’t have to explicitly publish to the CDN when you add a new page, image, etc. to your website). It gets you closer to simply being able to repoint the URL of your website to the CDN and having magic happen.
The dynamic site acceleration features — the actual network optimization features — that are being introduced are much more limited. They basically amount to TCP connection multiplexing, TCP connection peristency/pooling, and TCP window size optimization, much like Cotendo in its very first version. At this current stage, it’s not going to be seriously competing against Akamai’s DSA offering (or CDNetworks’s similar DWA offering), but it might have appeal against EdgeCast’s ADN offering.
However, I would expect that like everything else that Amazon releases, there will be frequent updates that introduce new features. The acceleration techniques are well known at this point, and Amazon would presumably logically add bidirectional (symmetric POP-to-POP) acceleration as the next big feature, in addition to implementing the common other optimizations (dynamic congestion control, TCP “FastRamp”, etc.).
What’s important here: CloudFront dynamic acceleration costs the same as static delivery. For US delivery, that starts at about $0.12/GB and goes down to below $0.02/GB for high volumes. That’s easily somewhere between one-half and one-tenth of the going rate for dynamic delivery. The delta is even greater if you look at a dynamic product like Akamai WAA (or its next generation, Terra Alta), where enterprise applications that might do all of a TB of delivery a month typically cost $6000 per app per month — whereas a TB of CloudFront delivery is $120. Akamai is pushing the envelope forward in feature development, and arguably those price points are so divergent that you’re talking about different markets, but low price points also expand a market to where lots of people can decide to do things, because it’s a totally different level of decision — to an enterprise, at that kind of price point, it might as well be free.
Give CloudFront another year of development, and there’s a high probability that it can become a seriously disruptive force in the dynamic acceleration market. The price points change the game, making it much more likely that companies, especially SaaS providers (many of whom use EC2, and AWS in general), who have been previously reluctant to adopt dynamic acceleration due to the cost, will simply get it as an easy add-on.
There is, by the way, a tremendous market opportunity out there for a company that delivers value-added services on top of CloudFront — which is to say, the professional services to help customers integrate with it, the ongoing expert technical support on a day to day basis, and a great user portal that provides industry-competitive reporting and analytics. CloudFront has reached the point where enterprises, large mainstream media companies, and other users of Akamai, Limelight, and Level 3 who feel they need ongoing support of complex implementations and a great toolset that helps them intelligently operate those CDN implementations, are genuinely interested in taking a serious look at CloudFront as an alternative, but there’s no company that I know of that provides the services and software that would bridge the gap between CloudFront and a traditional CDN implementation.
For those who have been wondering where I personally stand in the brouhaha over Amazon, Citrix, Eucalyptus, CloudStack, OpenStack, Rackspace, HP, and so on, along with the broader competitive market that includes VMware, Microsoft, and the Four Horsemen of management tools… I should state up-front that I hold the optimistic viewpoint that I want everyone to be successful as possible — service providers, commercial vendors, open-source projects, and the customers and users that depend upon them.
I feel that the more competent the competition in a market, the more that everyone in the ecosystem is motivated to do better, and the more customers benefit as a result. Customers benefit from better technology, lower costs, more responsive sales, and differentiated approaches to the market. Clearly, competition can hurt companies, but especially with emerging technology markets, competition often results in making the pie bigger for everyone, by expanding the range of customers that can be served — although yes, sometimes weaker competitors will be culled from the herd.
I believe that companies are best served by being the best they can be — you can target a competitor by responding on a tactical basis, and sometimes you want to, but for your optimal long-term success, you should strive to be great yourself. Obsessing over what your competitors are doing can easily distract companies from doing the right thing on a long-term strategic basis.
Dan Woods over on Forbes has written a blog post about questions around Amazon’s API strategy, and Jim Plamondon (Rackspace Developer Relations) has posted a comment on my blog about Amazon ecosystem zombiefication.
I’ve been thinking about the implications of Amazon API compatibility, and the degree to which it is or isn’t to Amazon’s advantage to encourage other people to build Amazon-compatible clouds.
I think it comes down to the following: If Amazon believes that they can innovate faster, drive lower costs, and deliver better service than all of their competitors that are using the same APIs (or, for that matter, enterprises who are using those same APIs), then it is to their advantage to encourage as many ways to “on-ramp” onto those APIs as possible, with the expectation that they will switch onto the superior Amazon platform over time.
But I would also argue that all this nattering about the basic semantics of provisioning bare resource elements is largely a waste of time for most people. None of the APIs for provisioning compute and storage (whether EC2/S3/EBS or their counterparts in other clouds) are complicated things at their core. They’re almost always wrappered with an abstraction layer, third-party library, or management tool. However, APIs may matter to people who are building clouds because they implicitly express the underlying conceptual framework of the system, though, and the richness of the API semantics constrain what can be expressed and therefore, what can be controlled via the API; the constraints of the Amazon APIs forces everyone else to express richer concepts in some other way.
But the battle will increasingly not be fought at this very basic level of ‘how do I get raw resources’. I recognize that building a cloud infrastructure platform at scale and with a lot of flexibility is a very difficult problem (although a simple and rigid one is not an especially difficult problem, as you can see from the zillion CMPs out in the market). But it’s not where value is ultimately created for users.
Value for users is ultimately created at the layers above the core infrastructure. Everyone has to get core infrastructure right, but the real question is: How quickly can you build value-added services, and how well does the adaptibility of your core infrastructure allow you to serve a broad range of use cases (or serve a narrow range of use cases in a fashion superior to everyone else) and to deliver new capabilities to your users?
There are two primary ecosystems developing in the world: VMware and Amazon. Other possibilities, like Microsoft and OpenStack, are completely secondary to those two. You can think of VMware as “cloud-out” and Amazon as “cloud-in” approaches.
In the VMware world, you move your data center (with its legacy applications) into the modern era with virtualization, and then you build a private cloud on top of that virtualized infrastructure; to get additional capacity, business agility, and so forth, you add external cloud IaaS, and hopefully do so with a VMware-virtualized provider (and, they hope, specifically a vCloud provider who has adopted the stack all the way up to vCloud Director).
In the Amazon world, you build and launch new applications directly onto cloud IaaS. Then, as you get to scale and a significant amount of steady-state capacity, you pull workloads back into your own data center, where you have Amazon-API-compatible infrastructure. Because you have a common API and set of tools across both, where to place your workloads is largely a matter of economics (assuming that you’re not using AWS capabilities beyond EC2, S3, and EBS). You can develop and test internally or externally, though if you intend to run production on AWS, you have to take its availability and performance characteristics into account when you do your application architecture. You might also adopt this strategy for disaster recovery.
While CloudStack has been an important CMP option for service providers — notably competing against the vCloud stack, OnApp, Hexagrid, and OpenStack — in the end, these providers are almost a decoration to the Amazon ecosystem. They’re mostly successful competing in places that Amazon doesn’t play — in countries where Amazon doesn’t have a data center, in the managed services / hosting space, in the hypervisor-neutral space (Amazon-style clouds built on top of VMware’s hypervisor, more specifically), and in a higher-performance, higher-availability market.
Where CloudStack has been more interesting is in its use to be a “cloud-in” platform for organizations who are using AWS in a significant fashion, and who want their own private cloud that’s compatible with it. Eucalyptus fills this niche as well, although Eucalyptus customers tend to be smaller and Eucalyptus tends to compete in the general private-cloud-builder CMP space targeted at enterprises — against the vCloud stack, Abiquo, HP CloudSystem, BMC Cloud Lifecycle Manager, CA’s 3Tera AppLogic, and so on. CloudStack tends to be used by bigger organizations; while it’s in the general CMP competitive space, enterprises that evaluate it are more likely to be also evaluating, say, Nimbula and OpenStack.
CloudStack has firmly aligned itself with the Amazon ecosystem. But OpenStack is an interesting case of an organization caught in the middle. Its service provider supporters are fundamentally interested in competing against AWS (far more so than with the VMware-based cloud providers, at least in terms of whatever service they’re building on top of OpenStack). Many of its vendor contributors are afraid of a VMware-centric world (especially as VMware moves from virtualizing compute to also virtualizing storage and networks), but just as importantly they’re afraid of a world in which AWS becomes the primary way that businesses buy infrastructure. It is to their advantage to have at least one additional successful widely-adopted CMP in the market, and at least one service provider successfully competing strongly against AWS. Yet AWS has established itself as a de facto standard for cloud APIs and for the way that a service “should” be designed. (This is why OpenStack has an aptly named “Nova Feature Parity Team” playing catch-up to AWS, after all, and why debates about the API continue in the OpenStack community.)
But make no mistake about it. This is not about scrappy free open-source upstarts trying to upset an established vendor ecosystem. This is a war between vendors. As Simon Wardley put it, beware of geeks bearing gifts. CloudStack is Citrix’s effort to take on VMware and enlist the rest of the vendor community in doing so. OpenStack is an effort on the part of multiple vendors — notably Rackspace and HP — to pool their engineering efforts in order to take on Amazon. There’s no altruism here, and it’s not coincidental that the committers to the projects have an explicit and direct commercial interest — they are people working full-time for vendors, contributing as employees of those vendors, and by and large not individuals contributing for fun.
So it really comes down to this: Who can innovate more quickly, and choose the right ways to innovate that will drive customer adoption?
Ladies and gentlemen, place your bets.
Eucalyptus began life as a university project to build a CMP that would create Amazon-API-compatible cloud infrastructure, but eventually turned into a commercial effort. However, like all other CMPs offering Amazon compatibility, Eucalyptus has always lived under the shadow of the threat that Amazon might someday try to enforce intellectual property rights related to its API.
With this partnership, Eucalyptus has formally licensed the Amazon API. There’s been a lot of speculation on what this means. My understanding is the following:
This is a non-exclusive technology partnership. Eucalyptus now has a formal license to build products that are compatible with the AWS APIs; at the moment, that’s EC2, S3, and EBS, but Eucalyptus can adopt the other APIs as well if they choose to. Amazon may enter into similar licensing agreements with others, enter into different sorts of partnerships, and so forth; this is a non-restrictive deal. Furthermore, this partnership is not a signal that Amazon is changing its stance towards other products/services with Amazon-compatible APIs, where it has to date adopted a laissez-faire attitude.
This is an API licensing deal, not a technology licensing deal. Amazon will provide Eucalyptus with API specifications, including related engineering specifications not provided in the public user-level documentation. However, Amazon will not be giving any technology away to Eucalyptus — this is not engineering assistance with the actual implementation. Eucalyptus will still need to do all of its own product engineering.
There is no coupling of Amazon and Eucalyptus’s development cycles. While Amazon will try to inform Eucalyptus of planned API changes so that Eucalyptus is able to release its own updates in a timely manner, Eucalyptus is on its own — if it can keep up with Amazon, fine, if it can’t, too bad. Eucalyptus is not obliged to remain Amazon-compatible, nor is Amazon obliged to ensure that it’s feasible for Eucalyptus to remain compatible.
Some people think that this deal with give Eucalyptus some much-needed life, since it has met with limited commercial interest, and its developer community has yet to really recover from the rifts created by a past licensing change.
I personally don’t agree. With people increasingly writing to libraries, or using third-party tools (RightScale, enStratus, etc.), developers tend to care less about what’s under the hood as long as their favorite tool supports it. Yes, Amazon’s API has become a de facto standard, but I haven’t seen Eucalyptus be the Amazon-compatible CMP of choice; instead, I see serious adopters choose CloudStack (Citrix, from the Cloud.com acquisition), and the vendors who want to be part of an open-source cloud project put their support primarily behind OpenStack. I’m not convinced that this licensing deal, however interesting, is going to significantly either shift buyer desires towards Eucalyptus, or improve their community support.
Randy Bias has blogged about Amazon mandating instance reboots for hundreds, perhaps thousands, of instances (Amazon’s term for VMs). Affected instances seem to be scheduled for reboots over the next couple of weeks. Speculation is that the reboots are to patch a recently-reported vulnerability in the Xen hypervisor, which is the virtualization technology that underlies Amazon’s EC2. The GigaOm story gives some links, and the CRN story discusses customer pain.
Maintenance reboots are not new on Amazon, and are detailed on Amazon’s documentation about
Estimates of Amazon’s revenues in the cloud IaaS market vary, but you could put it upwards of $1 billion in 2011 and not cause too much controversy. That’s a dominant market share, comprised heavily of early adopters but at this point, also drawing in the mainstream business — particularly the enterprise, which has become increasingly comfortable adopting Amazon services in a tactical manner. (Today, Amazon’s weakness is the mid-market — and it’s clear from the revenue patterns, too, that Amazon’s competitors are mostly winning in the mid-market. The enterprise is highly likely to go with Amazon, although it may also have an alternative provider such as Terremark for use cases not well-suited to Amazon.)
There are many, many other providers out there who are offering cloud IaaS, but Amazon is the brand that people know. They created this market; they have remained synonymous with it.
That means that for many organizations that are only now beginning to adopt cloud IaaS (i.e., traditional businesses that already run their own data centers), Amazon is the default choice. It’s the provider that everyone looks at because they’re big — and because they’re #1, they’re increasingly perceived as a safe choice. And because Amazon makes it superbly easy to sign up and get started (and get started for free, if you’re just monkeying around), there’s no reason not to give them a whirl.
Default choices are phenomenally powerful. (You can read any number of scientific papers and books about this.) Many businesses believe that they’ve got a low-risk project that they can toss on cloud IaaS and see what happens next. Or they’ve got an instant need and no time to review all the options, so they simply do something, because it’s better than not doing something (assuming that the organization is one in which people who get things done are not punished for not having filled out a form in triplicate first).
Default choices are often followed by inertia. Yeah, the company put a project on Amazon. It’s running fine, so people figure, why mess with it? They’ve got this larger internal private cloud story they’re working on, or this other larger cloud IaaS deal they’re working on, but… well, they figure, they can migrate stuff later. And it’s absolutely true that people can and do migrate, or in many cases, build a private cloud or add another cloud IaaS provider, but a high enough percentage of the time, whatever they stuck out there remains at Amazon, and possibly begins to accrete other stuff.
This is increasingly leaving the rest of the market trying to pry customers away from a provider they’re already using. It’s absolutely true that Amazon is not the ideal provider for all use cases. It’s absolutely true that any number of service providers can tell me endless stories of customers who have left Amazon for them. It’s probably true, as many service providers claim, that customers who are experienced with Amazon are better educated about the cloud and their needs, and therefore become better consumers of their next cloud provider.
But it does not change the fact that Amazon has been working on conquering the market one developer at a time, and that in turn has become the bean-counters in business saying, hey, shouldn’t we be using these Amazon guys?
This is what every vendor wants: For the dude at the customer to be trying to explain to his boss why he’s not using them.
This is increasingly my client inquiry pattern: Client has decided they are definitively not using Amazon (for various reasons, sometimes emotional and sometimes well thought out) and are looking at other options, or they are looking at cloud IaaS and are figuring that they’ll probably use Amazon or have even actually deployed stuff on Amazon (even if they have done zero reading or evaluation). Two extremes.
I promised the attendees at my Gartner Symposium workshop, called “Using Amazon Web Services“, that I would post the notes from the session, so here they are — with some context for public consumption.
A workshop is a structured, facilitated discussions that are designed to assist participants in working through a problem, coming up with best practices, etc. This one had thirty people, all from IT organizations that were either using Amazon or planning to use Amazon.
Because I didn’t know what level of experience with Amazon the workshop attendees would have, I actually prepared two workshops in advance. One of them was a highly structured work-through of preparing to use Amazon in a more formal way (i.e., not a single developer with a credit card or the like), and the other was a facilitated sharing of challenges and best practices amongst current adopters. As the room skewed heavily towards people who already had a deployment well under way, this workshop focused on the latter.
I started the workshop with introductions — people, companies, current use cases. Then, I asked attendees to share their use cases in more details in their smaller working groups. This turned into a set of active discussions that I allowed extra time for, before I asked each of the group to make a list of their most significant challenges in adopting/using Amazon, and their solutions if any. Throughout, I circulated the room, listening and, rarely, commenting. Each group then shared their findings, and I offered some commentary and then did an open Q&A (with some more participant sharing of their answers to questions).
Broadly, I would say that we had three types of people in the room. We had folks from the public sector and education, who were at a relatively early stage in adoption; we had people who were test/dev oriented but in a significant way (i.e., formal adoption, not a handful of developers doing their thang); and we had people who were more e-business oriented (including people from net-native businesses like SaaS, as well as traditional businesses with a hosting type of need), although that could be test/dev or production. Most of the people were mid-level IT management with direct responsibility for the Amazon services.
Some key observations:
Dealing with the financial aspects of moving to the cloud is hard. Understanding the return on investment, accurately estimating costs in advance, comparing costs to internal costs, and understanding the details of billing were common challenges of the participants. Moreover, it raises the issue of “is capital king or is expense king?” Although the broader industry is constantly talking about how people are trying to move to expense rather than capital, workshop participants frequently asserted that it was easier for them to get capital than to up their recurring expenses. (As a side note, I have found that to be a frequent assertion in both inquiry and conference 1-on-1s.) Finally, user management, cost control, and turning resources on/off appropriately were problematic in the financial context.
Move low-risk workloads first. The workshop participants generally assessed Amazon as being suitable only to test/dev, non-mission-critical workloads, and things that had specifically been designed with Amazon’s characteristics in mind. Participants recommended a risk profile of apps, and moving low-risk apps first. They also saw their security organizations as being a barrier to adoption. Many had issues with their Legal departments either trying to prevent use of services or causing issues in the contracting process (what Amazon calls an Enterprise Agreement); participants recommended not involving Legal until after adopting the service.
Performance is a problem. Performance was cited as a frequent issue, especially storage performance, which participants noted was unsuitable to their production applications, and one participant made the key point that many test/dev situations also require highly performant storage (something he had first discovered when his ILM strategy placed test/dev storage at a lower more commodity tier and it impacted his developers).
Know what your SLA isn’t. Amazon’s limited SLAs were cited as an issue, particularly the mismatch in what many users thought the SLA was versus what it actually was, and what it’s actually turned out to be in practice (given Amazon’s outages this year). Participants also stressed business continuity planning in this context.
Integration is a challenge. Participants noted that going to test/dev in the cloud, while maintaining production in an internal data center, splits the software development lifecycle across data centers. This can be overcome to some degree with the appropriate tools, but still creates challenges and sometimes outright problems. Also, because speed of deployment is such a driving factor to go to the cloud, there is a resulting fragmentation of solutions. A service catalog would help some of these issues.
Data management can be a challenge. Participants were worried about regulatory compliance and the “where is my data?” question. Inexperienced participants were often not aware that non-S3 data is generally local to an availability zone. But even beyond that, there’s the question of what data is being put where by the cloud users. Participants with larger amounts of data also faced challenges in moving data in and out of the cloud.
Amazon isn’t the right provider for all workloads in the cloud. Several workshop participants used other cloud IaaS providers in addition to Amazon, for a variety of other reasons — greater ease of use for users who didn’t need complex things, enterprise-grade availability and performance, better manageability, security capabilities, and so forth.
I have conducted cloud workshops and what Gartner calls analyst/user roundtables at a bunch of our conferences now, and it’s always interesting what the different audiences think about, and how much it’s evolving over time. Compared to last year’s Symposium, the state of the art of Amazon adoption amongst conference attendees has clearly advanced hugely.
Amazon has introduced a new connectivity option called
In the wake of Amazon’s recent outage, we know we have Gartner clients who are interested in what we’ve written about Amazon in the past, and our existing recommendations for using cloud IaaS, and managing cloud-related risks. While we’re comfortable with our current advice, we’re also in the midst of some internal debate about what new recommendations may emerge out of this event, I’m posting a list of research notes that clients may find helpful as they sort through their thinking. This is just a reading list; it is by no means a comprehensive list of Gartner research related to Amazon or cloud IaaS. If you are a client, you may want to do your own search of the research, or ask our client services folks for help.
I will mark notes as “Core” (available to regular Gartner clients), “GBL” (available to technology and service provider clients who have subscribed to Gartner for Business Leaders or a product with similar access to research targeted at vendors), or “ITP” (available to clients of the Burton Group’s services, known as Gartner for IT Professionals post-acquisitions).
If you are specifically concerned about this particular Amazon outage and its context, and you want to read just one cautionary note, read Will Your Data Rain When the Cloud Bursts?, by my colleague Jay Heiser. It’s specifically about the risk of storage failure in the public cloud, and what you should ask your provider about their recoverability.
You might also be interested in our Cloud Computing: Infrastructure as a Service research round-up, for research related to both external cloud IaaS, and internal private clouds.
We first profiled Amazon EC2 in-depth in the November 2008 note, Is Amazon EC2 Right For You? (Core). It provides a brief overview of EC2, and examines the business case for using it, what applications are suited to using it, and the operational considerations. While some of the information is now outdated, the core questions outlined there are still valid. I am currently in the process of writing an update to this note, which will be out in a few weeks.
A deeper-dive profile can be found in the November 2009 note, Amazon EC2: Is It Ready For the Enterprise? (ITP). This goes into more technical detail (although it is also slightly out of date), and looks at it from an “enterprise readiness” standpoint, including suitability to run certain types of workloads, and a view on security and risk.
Amazon was one of the vendors profiled in our December 2010 multi-provider evaluation, Magic Quadrant for Cloud Infrastructure as a Service and Web Hosting (Core). The evaluation is focused in the context of EC2. This is the most recent competitive view of the market that we’ve published. Our thinking on some of these vendors has changed since the time it was published (and we are working on writing an update, in the form of an MQ specific to public cloud); if you are currently evaluating cloud IaaS, or any part of Amazon Web Services, we encourage you to call and place an inquiry.
We did an in-depth profile for Amazon S3 in the November 2008 note, A Look at Amazon’s S3 Cloud-Computing Storage Service (Core). This note is now somewhat outdated, but please do make a client inquiry if you want to get our current thinking.
The October 2010 note, in Cloud Storage Infrastructure-as-a-Service Providers, North America (Core), provides a “who’s who” list of quick profiles of the major cloud storage providers.
An in-depth examination of cloud storage, focused on the technology and market more so than the vendors (although it does have a chart of competitive positioning), is given in the December 2010 note, Market Profile: Cloud-Storage Service Providers, 2011 (ITP).
The major cloud storage vendors are profiled in some depth in the June 2010 note, Competitive Landscape: Cloud Storage Infrastructure as a Service, North America, 2010 (GBL).
Other Amazon-Specific Things
The June 2009 note, Software on Amazon’s Elastic Compute Cloud: How to Tell Hype From Reality (Core), explores the issues of running commercial software on Amazon EC2, as well as how to separate vendor claims of Amazon partnerships from the reality of what they’re doing.
Amazon was one of the vendors who responded to the cloud rights and responsibilities published by the Gartner Global IT Council for Cloud Services. Their response, and Gartner commentary on it, can be found in Vendor Response: How Providers Address the Cloud Rights and Responsibilities (Core).
Amazon’s Elastic MapReduce service is profiled in the January 2011 note, Hadoop and MapReduce: Big Data Analytics (ITP).
Cloud IaaS, in General
A seven-part note, the top-level note of which is Evaluating Cloud Infrastructure as a Service (Core), goes into extensive detail about the range of options available in cloud IaaS provider, and how to evaluate those providers. You are highly encouraged to read it to understand the full range of market options; there’s a lot more to the market than just Amazon.
To understand the breadth of the market, and the players in particular segments, read Market Insight: Structuring the Cloud Compute IaaS Market (GBL). This is targeted at vendors ho want to understand buyer profiles and how they map to the offerings in the market.
Help with evaluating what type of data center solution is right for you can be found in the framework laid out in Data Center Sourcing: Cloud, Host, Co-Lo, or Do It Yourself (ITP).
Help with evaluating your application’s suitability for a move to the cloud can be found in Migrating Applications to the Cloud: Rehost, Refactor, Revise, Rebuild, or Replace? (ITP), which takes an in-depth look at the factors you should consider when evaluating your application portfolio in a cloud context.
We’ve recently produced a great deal of research related to cloud sourcing. A catalog of that research can be found in Manage Risk and Unexpected Costs During the Cloud Sourcing Revolution (Core). There’s a ton of critical advice there, especially with regard to contracting, that make these notes a must-read.
We provide a framework for evaluating cloud security and risks in Developing a Cloud Computing Security Strategy (ITP). This offers a deep dive into security and compliance issues, including how to build a cross-functional team to deal with these issues.
We take a look at assessment and auditing frameworks for cloud computing, in Determining Criteria for Cloud Security Assessment: It’s More than a Checklist (ITP). This goes deep into detail on risk assessment, assessment of provider controls, and the emerging industry standards for cloud security.
We caution about the risks of expecting that a cloud provider will have such a high level of reliability that a business continuity and recoverability are no long necessary, in Will Your Data Rain When the Cloud Bursts? (Core). This note is specifically primarily focused on data recoverability.
We provide a framework for cloud risk mitigation in Managing Availability and Performance Risks in the Cloud: Expect the Unexpected (ITP). This provides solid advice on planning your bail-out strategy, distributing your applications/data/services, and buying cyber-risk insurance.
If you are using a SaaS provider, and you’re concerned about their underlying infrastructure, we encourage you to ask them a set of Critical Questions. There are three research notes, covering Infrastructure, Security, and Recovery (all Core). These notes are somewhat old, but the questions are still valid ones.