Invaluable Cloud Computing Experience

By Darryl K. Taft  |  Posted 2009-08-26 Print this article Print


Selipsky then listed a number of AWS' large enterprise customers, including Eli Lilly, ESPN, eHarmony, Netflix, the Indianapolis Speedway, Pfizer, Harvard Medical School and Playfish, a gaming company that is the maker of five of the top 10 games on Facebook and has more than 25 million users. He also pointed out Amazon's ongoing partnerships with enterprise players such as IBM, Oracle, Red Hat, CA, Cap Gemini and others to enable their solutions to run in the cloud. "I'd hold up our solution to anyone else's enterprise solutions," he said.

Why? Because of the company's invaluable experience in delivering cloud computing, as well as lessons learned supporting the retail operation.

"We've iterated many times on each of the services that we've released, and each has had significant new features added over time," Selipsky said. "These are battle-tested services that are in use all over, and I don't think there's a good substitute for that learning. We've earned a reputation for being innovative in this space."

However, Selipsky said he believes AWS' greatest competition "is likely to be the disk drive on the server. Companies are used to doing IT a certain way. And AWS is one way, but any change of that magnitude will have to be over time, with decision makers getting comfortable with new ways of doing things."

Thus, the way Amazon intends to differentiate itself is with rock-solid performance, security and reliability, he said.

"We firmly believe in providing our customers with as much flexibility as possible," Selipsky said. "We don't care about the OS or programming language, be it Java, Ruby, PHP, Perl, C# or whatever. In EC2 [Amazon's Elastic Compute Cloud] you can have Linux, Solaris, Windows and more over time. We want our service to be flexible and easy to use. I don't think that will be the approach that every vendor will take, but it's something we hold very dear," he said in an apparent dig at Microsoft's Windows focus.

Despite the name of Amazon's new service, the "private cloud" part is more of a nod to industry acceptance of the term than to the company's core thrust in the area.

"We have difficulty understanding the concept of a private cloud and what that really means," Selipsky said. "It's just another means of virtualization. Private clouds don't offer true elasticity; they offer what I call 'fauxlasticity.' We think there is just 'the cloud." And Amazon VPC is meant to bridge internal IT with 'the cloud.'"

Selipsky expanded on AWS' heritage in running "There was a decade of building before there was AWS." In the early days Amazon was driven primarily by big iron, and then the core application emerged from being a hard-wired application to a service-oriented architecture supported on massive amounts of low-cost, commodity hardware. The map leading to AWS has been marked with Web services and APIs, he said.

Looking beyond Amazon is a mistake. As Selipsky said, he expects the company to be one of the winners in the cloud space as things shake out. The company is shoring up some of its weak spots in middleware and tooling with partnerships and building out libraries, code samples and new services. Moreover, Amazon has its track record. Central to the company's cloud strategy is that track record-that Amazon can run cloud infrastructure better, more reliably and less expensively than anyone else.  

Darryl K. Taft covers the development tools and developer-related issues beat from his office in Baltimore. He has more than 10 years of experience in the business and is always looking for the next scoop. Taft is a member of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) and was named 'one of the most active middleware reporters in the world' by The Middleware Co. He also has his own card in the 'Who's Who in Enterprise Java' deck.

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