Welcome!

Web 2.0 Authors: Carmen Gonzalez, Tony Shan, Hovhannes Avoyan, Kevin Benedict, Elizabeth White

Related Topics: Cloud Expo, Virtualization

Cloud Expo: Article

Clouds Should Be Open, Not Proprietary

The Nine Features of an Ideal PaaS

David Young's "Joyeur" Blog

What sort of cloud computer(s) should we be building or expecting from vendors? Are there issues of lock-in that should concern customers of either SaaS clouds or PaaS clouds? I’ve been thinking about this problem as the CEO of a PaaS cloud computing company for some time. Clouds should be open. They shouldn’t be proprietary. More broadly, I believe no vendor currently does everything that’s required to serve customers well.

What’s required for such a cloud? I think an ideal PaaS cloud would have the following nine features:

1. Virtualization Layer Network Stability

Cloud computers must operate on some sort of virtualization technology for many of the following features to even be feasible. But as general purpose computing moves from dedicated hardware to on-demand computing, one key feature of the dedicated model for web applications is a stable, static IP address. If the virtualization layer borks (and this happens), when the cloud has recovered the cloud instances of compute, the developer should be able to rely on the web application just working without having to re-jigger network settings.

2. API for Creation, Deletion, Cloning of Instances

Developers should be able to interact with the cloud computer, to do business with it, without having to get on the phone with a sales person, or submit a help ticket. In other words, the customer should be able to truly get on-demand computing when they demand, whenever they demand. Joyent only began to offer this recently through Aptana and their Aptana Studio product. However, the API is only available to Aptana at this point. The API needs to be publicly available to everyone. Provide a credit card (that works and is yours) and you should get compute, storage, and RAM on-demand. The challenges for cloud computing companies is to figure the just-in-time economics that allow us to provide on-demand infrastructure without having lots of infrastructure sitting around waiting to be used. I think this means that cloud computing companies will, just like banks, begin more and more to “loan” each other infrastructure to handle our own peaks and valleys, But in order for this to happen we’d need the next requirement.

3. Application Layer Interoperability

Cloud computers need to support a core set of application frameworks in a consistent way. I propose that cloud computers should support PHP, Ruby, Python, Java and the most common frameworks, libraries, gems/plugins, and application/web servers for each of these languages. Essentially, a developer should be able to move between Joyent, the Amazon Web Services, Google, Mosso, Slicehost, GoGrid, etc. by simply pointing the “deploy gun” at the cloud (having used the API mentioned above to spin up instances) and go. Change DNS, done. But, no cloud computing company is innovating by providing better application layer solutions. We ought to support the most popular languages and move on. However, for a developer to truly have cloud portability, we need to support another requirement.

4. State Layer Interoperability

This is the most difficult problem to solve when scaling a web application, and, consequently, the area in which cloud computing companies are innovating while sacrificing interoperability. It’s not simply a question of deciding that we should all support MySQL or Postgres because we will find that the needed requirement (“Automatic Scaling”) is practically impossible to achieve with these tools. Amazon is innovating with SimpleDB, Google has BigTable as solutions for the problem, but developers can’t leave either cloud because neither SimpleDB nor BigTable are available anywhere else. What is needed, and I’m looking ahead to the next requirement when I say this, is an XMPP-based state-layer that can flush out to some SQL-y store. Think open-source Tibco. The financial markets fixed these problems years ago. This datastore needs to speak SQL, be built using open-source and free software, and be easy for developers to adopt. The value cloud computing companies provide to developers is running the state layer for them, without requiring developers to use some proprietary state layer that may or may not provide scalability upon success and represents lock-in.

5. Application Services (e.g. email infrastructure, payments infrastructure)

A cloud computer should provide scaled application services consumable by developers in developing and delivering their own applications. There are two types of application services. The first group is delivered using open protocols/formats. Examples would be IMAP/SMTP, LDAP/vCARD, iCAL/ICS, XMPP, OpenID, OPML. All clouds should offer these open protocols/formats so that developers can move between clouds without having to rewrite their application. The second group is delivered as web services, are often proprietary to the cloud (therefore a means of differentiation), and include services such as payments, inventory.

6. Automatic Scale (deploy and forget about it)

All things being equal, a competent developer should be able to deploy to a cloud and grow to five billion page views a month without having to think about “scale”. Just write the code, the cloud computer does the rest.

Is this achievable? Today, no. No cloud computer automatically scales applications. Part of the problem lies in the state layer. Part of the problem lies in what it means to scale. What is the measure of scale? Responsiveness? Scaling the state layer (e.g. the database) is a black art. Scaling the application layer or the static assets layer relies, in part on load balancing and storage.

7. Hardware Load Balancing

The cloud computer should provide the means to achieve five billion page views a month. I picked that number because it is big. If you’re writing an application, and you want to be able to achieve tremendous scale, the answer shouldn’t be to move off the cloud onto your own “private” cloud of dedicated servers. Of course, if the cloud computer is open as we’ve described, you can build your own cloud. It’s also true you can generate your own electricity from coal, if you want to bother. But why bother? Software load balancers will get you nowhere close to the throughput required to achieve 5 billion page views per month. The state of the art is hardware load balancers.

8. Storage as a Service

Storage should be available to developers as a service. Where this is done today, it is done using a proprietary API and represents lock-in. The storage service should allow customers to consume endless amounts of storage and pay for only what is used. Objects on the storage service should be accessed by developers as objects rather than as nodes in a hierarchical tree. This way developers don’t have to understand the hierarchy.

WebDAV could be an open protocol version of the storage service, but fails to provide the abstraction of treating objects as objects rather than nodes in a hierarchical tree. At present, I don’t believe there is a reasonable solution to the problem that isn’t also proprietary. We need to develop one that is open and free.

9. “Root”, If Required

The cloud computer vendor can’t think of everything a developer or application might need or want to do. So the cloud needs to be hackable and extensible by the developer and that means an administrative account of some sort that allows the developer to shape and mold the cloud to their specific needs. By definition, cloud computers must be built on top of some sort of virtualization technology, so the developer never has “root” to the cloud, only “root” to the developer’s part of the cloud.


[This appeared originally here and is republished in full with the kind permission of the author.]

More Stories By David Young

David Young is CEO of Joyent, which he founded in 2004 to provide a comprehensive suite of Internet-delivered software and on-demand infrastructure for small to medium organizations. Prior to Joyent, he worked at Moody's Investor Service (1989-1999) in the Structured Finance, International, and Digital Media groups as General Manager and corporate Vice President and was co-founder and CTO of manageStar (2000-2004), an enterprise services management software company whose customers included TimeWarner, Sodexho, and Global Signal.

Comments (1) View Comments

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


Most Recent Comments
Genome 07/21/08 11:26:30 AM EDT

Speaking of non-proprietary clouds, the guys at Red Hat have released the first version of a project called Genome. This looks to be an open source project that makes Fedora, Red Hat Enterprise Linux, and CentOS clouds using Xen, KVM, and commodity hardware. Here's the link: http://genome.et.redhat.com/

@ThingsExpo Stories
@ThingsExpo has been named the Top 5 Most Influential M2M Brand by Onalytica in the ‘Machine to Machine: Top 100 Influencers and Brands.' Onalytica analyzed the online debate on M2M by looking at over 85,000 tweets to provide the most influential individuals and brands that drive the discussion. According to Onalytica the "analysis showed a very engaged community with a lot of interactive tweets. The M2M discussion seems to be more fragmented and driven by some of the major brands present in the M2M space. This really allows some room for influential individuals to create more high value inter...
SYS-CON Events announced today that B2Cloud, a provider of enterprise resource planning software, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. B2cloud develops the software you need. They have the ideal tools to help you work with your clients. B2Cloud’s main solutions include AGIS – ERP, CLOHC, AGIS – Invoice, and IZUM
It's time to put the "Thing" back in IoT. Whether it’s drones, robots, self-driving cars, ... There are multiple incredible examples of the power of IoT nowadays that are shadowed by announcements of yet another twist on statistics, databases, .... Sorry, I meant, Big Data(TM), tiered storage(TM), complex systems(TM), smart nations(TM), .... In his session at WebRTC Summit, Dr Alex Gouaillard, CTO and Co-Founder of Temasys, will discuss the concrete, cool, examples of IoT already happening today, and how mixing all those different sources of visual and audio input can make your life happier ...
The WebRTC Summit 2015 New York, to be held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York, NY, announces that its Call for Papers is open. Topics include all aspects of improving IT delivery by eliminating waste through automated business models leveraging cloud technologies. WebRTC Summit is co-located with 16th International Cloud Expo, @ThingsExpo, Big Data Expo, and DevOps Summit.
There is no doubt that Big Data is here and getting bigger every day. Building a Big Data infrastructure today is no easy task. There are an enormous number of choices for database engines and technologies. To make things even more challenging, requirements are getting more sophisticated, and the standard paradigm of supporting historical analytics queries is often just one facet of what is needed. As Big Data growth continues, organizations are demanding real-time access to data, allowing immediate and actionable interpretation of events as they happen. Another aspect concerns how to deliver ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that MangoApps will exhibit at SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY., and the 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. MangoApps provides private all-in-one social intranets allowing workers to securely collaborate from anywhere in the world and from any device. Social, mobile, and easy to use. MangoApps has been named a "Market Leader" by Ovum Research and a "Cool Vendor" by Gartner...
The world's leading Cloud event, Cloud Expo has launched Microservices Journal on the SYS-CON.com portal, featuring over 19,000 original articles, news stories, features, and blog entries. DevOps Journal is focused on this critical enterprise IT topic in the world of cloud computing. Microservices Journal offers top articles, news stories, and blog posts from the world's well-known experts and guarantees better exposure for its authors than any other publication. Follow new article posts on Twitter at @MicroservicesE
Containers and microservices have become topics of intense interest throughout the cloud developer and enterprise IT communities. Accordingly, attendees at the upcoming 16th Cloud Expo at the Javits Center in New York June 9-11 will find fresh new content in a new track called PaaS | Containers & Microservices Containers are not being considered for the first time by the cloud community, but a current era of re-consideration has pushed them to the top of the cloud agenda. With the launch of Docker's initial release in March of 2013, interest was revved up several notches. Then late last...
WebRTC defines no default signaling protocol, causing fragmentation between WebRTC silos. SIP and XMPP provide possibilities, but come with considerable complexity and are not designed for use in a web environment. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Matthew Hodgson, technical co-founder of the Matrix.org, discussed how Matrix is a new non-profit Open Source Project that defines both a new HTTP-based standard for VoIP & IM signaling and provides reference implementations.
In his session at WebRTC Summit, Peter Dunkley, Technical Director at Acision, will look at creating interactive communications via the web by adding messaging, file transfer, and group communication (group chat and audio/video conferencing) into the web experience. He will also discuss potential applications of this technology in areas including B2B, B2C, P2P, and gaming. Peter Dunkley is Technical Director at Acision. He graduated from The University of Edinburgh in 2000 with a BSc (Hons) in Computer Science. After graduation Peter worked on a PSTN switch developing signalling stacks for SS...
The security devil is always in the details of the attack: the ones you've endured, the ones you prepare yourself to fend off, and the ones that, you fear, will catch you completely unaware and defenseless. The Internet of Things (IoT) is nothing if not an endless proliferation of details. It's the vision of a world in which continuous Internet connectivity and addressability is embedded into a growing range of human artifacts, into the natural world, and even into our smartphones, appliances, and physical persons. In the IoT vision, every new "thing" - sensor, actuator, data source, data con...
What if, during a snow emergency, an on-the-ground sensor could automatically trigger a relevant emergency notification related to snowfall and road impact. And then, after it’s triggered, that notification is delivered intelligently to individuals based on an extensive set of rules designed to alert the most available and capable responders. This “what if” question about “smart highways” is short-sighted. We are already there, and we are only getting started. While mainstream attention is paid to machine-to-machine communications, new technologies are being developed to make these communica...
The Internet of Things is not new. Historically, smart businesses have used its basic concept of leveraging data to drive better decision making and have capitalized on those insights to realize additional revenue opportunities. So, what has changed to make the Internet of Things one of the hottest topics in tech? In his session at @ThingsExpo, Chris Gray, Director, Embedded and Internet of Things, discussed the underlying factors that are driving the economics of intelligent systems. Discover how hardware commoditization, the ubiquitous nature of connectivity, and the emergence of Big Data a...
Avnet, Inc. has announced that it ranked No. 4 on the InformationWeek Elite 100 – a list of the top business technology innovators in the U.S. Avnet was recognized for the development of an innovative cloud-based training system that serves as the foundation for Avnet Academy – the company’s education and training organization focused on technical training around top IT vendor technologies. The development of this system allowed Avnet to quickly expand its IT-related training capabilities around the world, while creating a new service that Avnet and its IT solution providers can offer to their...
SYS-CON Media announced today that @WebRTCSummit Blog, the largest WebRTC resource in the world, has been launched. @WebRTCSummit Blog offers top articles, news stories, and blog posts from the world's well-known experts and guarantees better exposure for its authors than any other publication. @WebRTCSummit Blog can be bookmarked ▸ Here @WebRTCSummit conference site can be bookmarked ▸ Here
Scott Jenson leads a project called The Physical Web within the Chrome team at Google. Project members are working to take the scalability and openness of the web and use it to talk to the exponentially exploding range of smart devices. Nearly every company today working on the IoT comes up with the same basic solution: use my server and you'll be fine. But if we really believe there will be trillions of these devices, that just can't scale. We need a system that is open a scalable and by using the URL as a basic building block, we open this up and get the same resilience that the web enjoys.
Chuck Piluso will present a study of cloud adoption trends and the power and flexibility of IBM Power and Pureflex cloud solutions. Speaker Bio: Prior to Data Storage Corporation (DSC), Mr. Piluso founded North American Telecommunication Corporation, a facilities-based Competitive Local Exchange Carrier licensed by the Public Service Commission in 10 states, serving as the company's chairman and president from 1997 to 2000. Between 1990 and 1997, Mr. Piluso served as chairman & founder of International Telecommunications Corporation, a facilities-based international carrier licensed by t...
There are lots of challenges in IoT around secure, scalable and business friendly infrastructure for enterprises. For large corporations, IoT implementations are one of the top priorities of the decade. All industries are seeing a competitive need to sustain by investing in IoT initiatives. The value addition comes from improved customer service, innovative product and additional revenue streams. The data from these IP-connected devices can be leveraged for a variety of business applications as well as responsive action controls. The various architectural building blocks of an IoT ...
With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing IoT strategies, now is the perfect time to attend @ThingsExpo in Silicon Valley. Learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is as "IoT-Ready" as it can be! Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place Nov 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with 17th Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the most profound change in personal an...
The Internet of Things Maturity Model (IoTMM) is a qualitative method to gauge the growth and increasing impact of IoT capabilities in an IT environment from both a business and technology perspective. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Tony Shan will first scan the IoT landscape and investigate the major challenges and barriers. The key areas of consideration are identified to get started with IoT journey. He will then pinpoint the need of a tool for effective IoT adoption and implementation, which leads to IoTMM in which five maturity levels are defined: Advanced, Dynamic, Optimized, Primitive,...