The Cloud Support Conundrum

Two nights ago I read an interesting tweet by @jclouds (Adrian Cole) that I think deserves some discussion. It is shown below:

rightscale might as well be a division of amazon; not much #cloud diversity in their offerings

For the record RightScale supports Rackspace, GoGrid, and Eucalyptus in addition to AWS. However, I think there is a bigger issue at hand which is how many clouds should cloud management platforms really support?

I'm going to take the opposite stance on this issue. I actually think it is quite impressive that cloud management platforms in general support as many clouds as they do. From a financial perspective you only really need to support one cloud (AWS) since it is dominates usage by far. However, I think most people agree that putting all of the eggs in one basket is foolhardy. So the next logical move is to support the next biggest player in the market, Rackspace. That is why support for AWS and Rackspace is ubiquitous across all cloud management services (RightScale, enStratus, cloudkick). At that point even if one of your legs gets kicked out from under you, you still have another one to stand on.

Aside from AWS and Rackspace, there are a smattering of "other" clouds for which adoption and usage has been small. Case and point, in addition to AWS and Rackspace, the three aforementioned cloud management services support a total of nine additional clouds. Yet, the only overlap across those nine clouds is RightScale and Cloudkick supporting GoGrid. The rest are unique to that particular service.

While I would like to think this that the divergent opinions in cloud support are a result of too many awesome clouds being available, that is simply not the case. Instead, these platforms have the unpleasant task of trying to find clouds that are sufficiently feature rich enough to support actual usage. While most clouds seem to be improving in providing the endemic cloud features, this process can be slow and leave much to be desired.

The alternative is customers asking management platforms to support some of the other clouds. While this can and probably does happen, I can't imagine it happens in a sufficient enough quantity (or with sufficient $) to make it a worthwhile venture. If you are ask customers they would love it if you added support for <some obscure cloud only they use> or even better <some cloud their son is building as a science fair project> but lets be realistic, it's not gonna happen.

With that being said, I do think there will be more diversity in cloud offerings, just not as quickly as most cloud folks want it happen. At this point the focus should be getting people onto the cloud, not a cloud.


adriancole said...

I think we have different ideas of support. Although the ensuing reply storm went elsewhere, my comment originated from a couple things; 1 how many of the 1M instances are amazon only, and 2 how much effort is being put even to the clouds that are supposedly supported on non-ec2. look at the level of git updates to rightscale's non-ec2 right-whatever projects. read the right_link thing and see if they bothered to test it outside ec2. Why is their grid thing tied to aws-only technology. support is more than doing a gui list or installing a template across clouds. if your new products only work or are only tested on one cloud, you are not really interested in pushing portability.

my 2p

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