Bits and pieces
Interesting recent news:
Amazon’s revocation of Orwell novels on the Kindle has stirred up some cloud debate. There seems to have been a thread of “will this controversy kill cloud computing”, which you can find in plenty of blogs and press articles. I think that question, in this context, is silly, and am not going to dignify it with a lengthy post of my own. I do think, however, that it highlights important questions around content ownership, application ownership, and data ownership, and the role that contracts (whether in the form of EULAs or traditional contracts) will play in the cloud. By giving up control over physical assets, whether data or devices, we place ourselves into the hands of thir parties, and we’re now subject to their policies and foibles. The transition from a world of ownership to a world of rental, even “permanent” lifetime rental, is not a trivial one.
Engine Yard has expanded its EC2 offering. Previously, Engine Yard was offering Amazon EC2 deployment of its stack via an offering called Solo, for low-end customers who only needed a single instance. Now, they’ve introduced a version called Flex, which is oriented around customers who need a cluster and associated capabilities, along with a higher level of support. This is notable because Engine Yard has been serving these higher-end customers out of their own data center and infrastructure. This move, however, seems to be consistent with Engine Yard’s gradual shift from hosting towards being more software-centric.
The Rackspace Cloud Servers API is now in open beta. Cloud Servers is essentially the product that resulted from Rackspace’s acquisition of Slicehost. Previously, you dealt with your Cloud Server through a Web portal; this new release adds a RESTful API, along with some new features, like shared IPs (useful for keepalived and the like). Also of note is the resize operation, letting you scale your server size up or down, but this is really handwaving magic in front of replacing a smaller virtual server with a larger virtual server, rather than expanding an already-running virtual instance. The API is fairly extensive and the documentation seems decent, although I haven’t had time to personally try it out yet. The API responses, interestingly, include both human-readable data as well as WADL (Web Application Description Language, which is machine-parseable).
SOASTA has introduced a cloud-based performance certification program. Certification is something of a marketing gimmick, but I do think that SOASTA is, overally, an interesting company. Very simply, SOASTA leverages cloud system infrastructure to offer high-volume load-testing services. In the past, you’d typically execute such tests using a tool like HP’s LoadRunner, and many Web hosters offer, as part of their professional services offerings, performance testing using LoadRunner or a similar tool. SOASTA is a full-fledged software as a service offering (i.e., it is their own test harness, monitors, analytics, etc., not a cloud repackaging of another vendor), and the price point makes it reasonable not just for the sort of well-established organizations that could previously afford commercial performance-testing tools, but also for start-ups.