Welcome!

Agile Computing Authors: Liz McMillan, AppNeta Blog, ManageEngine IT Matters, Pat Romanski, Elizabeth White

Related Topics: @CloudExpo, Microsoft Cloud

@CloudExpo: Article

Amazon, Google, Microsoft - Big Three Cloud Providers Examined

GOOG very much believes that the web is the platform; we have a divergent opinion

Brandon Watson's "Many Niches" Blog

There’s been quite a bit of chatter on the web about the Azure Services Platform. Obviously I’m excited to see people talking about our new platform, especially when there is plenty of good, some bad, and some good if not somewhat rambling. There will be no shortage of guessing as to what Microsoft is “really up to” with our development efforts.

I wanted to take a crack at that one, but from a completely different perspective. I want to frame the discussion centered on the motivations of the platform providers, and let that be a guide to understanding the delivered product.

Amazon
Let me start by giving a hat tip to the AMZN guys. Their web services platform (AWS) has really been at the tip of the spear for cloud computing. or the sake of this discussion, when I use the term “cloud computing,” I am talking about the developer platform, not things like GOOG apps. The AMZN services are a loosely coupled set of services targeted at developers looking to avail themselves of infrastructure buildout. Their infrastructure as a service (EC2) is a great way for developers to reduce their capital expenditures and take on a variable costing model for their servers.

The services, all up, encompass several key pieces for building applications that can take on a range of workloads. The ability to now run Windows Server 2003 (which should get you terminal services) means that as a developer, you can deploy varying application types into AWS, beyond simply web apps. From a developer standpoint, however, there is no unified development experience. Which brings me to the discussion around motivations.

AMZN essentially spends 10 months out of the year building out servers. They build out massive numbers of servers for the two months out of the year when they are handling the Christmas shopping season. AMZN is, for all intents and purposes, a giant mall. They spend hundreds of millions of dollars a year building more capacity for their mall. Their store is the primary reason shoppers come in the front door, and most of the year, their mall is empty, relative to the size of the mall. As a retailer with an ecommerce backend, their problems are no different than most enterprises. They have machines that are sitting around doing little or nothing for large portions of the year. Unlike most other enterprises, AMZN has the financial capacity to build out their server capacity. At some point, AMZN made the decision to no longer be the primary traffic draw to their mall. They realized that they could completely offset their own traffic (and then some) by taking the technology that they had built for themselves and making it available to other developers.

AMZN is, essentially, in the load management business. They are a low margin retail operator that is running a hugely expensive infrastructure for which they are seeking maximum utilization. They would like nothing more than to be noise in their own system. AMZN is relentlessly metrics driven. As such, they have a pretty good idea of how much money to expect off of traffic that walks through their front door. They know how much to expect from traffic ending up at one of their marketplace partners. With the addition of AWS, they have a new way to monetize their capacity, and with their predictable pricing model, they know exactly how much money they are going to make off of customers who deploy applications to their service.Traffic on their network makes them money. It may not make your app money, but it makes them money, so they are happy. It more than likely saves you money, so you are probably happy too.

So, AMZN is motivated by maximization of infrastructure capacity, and optimization of what would otherwise be very low margin businesses. They do this by delivering a loosely coupled set of services to developers looking for infrastructure as a service. They aren’t necessarily targeting developers. They aren’t a platform, per se. They are targeting anyone who is looking to move workloads off of their own infrastructure and onto AMZN.

Google
Ahh, Google. I love those guys. They have done plenty of cool things, and their release of the AppEngine (GAE) was welcomed with very loud praise from many in the tech community. According to some reports, they had 25,000 developers sign up for GAE in the first few hours of releasing it.Taken as a whole, GAE is a very tightly coupled set of services designed to allow developers to build applications that will have no problem scaling up to, theoretically, infinite capacity. The rigid requirements for a developer deploying into the GAE are such that you use one language (Python) and their database (big table).

Once again, when considering what has been built, one need look no further than the motivations of GOOG to really get where they are going. When you consider the stricture imposed on the architecture of apps built for GAE (singple process, no long running queries, no local file access, no network access), a developer is all but required to build standard CRUD web applications. There is no stack for enterprise integration. The delivery vehicle is the web browser. The data that is created goes right into big table.

Some might say that GOOG’s core business is search. I actually have a different opinion. GOOG’s core business is the monetization of page views. Search is their instantiation of that business model, but many of their other applications have nothing to do with search, and everything to do with the monetization of page views. Think about gmail - ads on the sidebar.

Applicaitons on GAE are mostly CRUD apps, storing structured data into big table. As a developer, building an applicaiton on GAE, you are essentially feeding the GOOG beast. While they have not yet released final pricing, allow me to put on my pointy tin foil hat and talk about what might come to pass. GOOG knows exactly how much it costs to run their infrastructure, and as such could hand developers a bill for the resources which they consume. However, GOOG doesn’t have AMZN’s problem. Their traffic is mostly linear, and going up and to the right. It’s probably logarithmic at this point, but who’s counting? In any event, since they have little variability in their traffic patterns, they don’t have to get into the load management business. By allowing developers to build applications on their infrastructure, they are incurring unnecessary costs. Their motivations, however, are driven by their business model. Each new app that is plugged into the infrastructure ads new data to their data set, and creates new opportunities for page monetization.

Think of the case where GOOG shows up to a developer and says, “hey, moboganda.com - how are you doing? That’s a great app you put up on GAE. We’ve been going over the data and we figured out that if we ran AdSense on your pages 20% of the time, we could actually recoup the cost of running the infrastructure for you. In fact, you don’t even need to do anything, since we own the infrastructure, the feature is already in there. You can turn it off with a JavaScript include.” As the young CEO of a web startup, this could sound like a pretty cool deal. Free infrastructure and they didn’t have to do anything to get that turned on. Not bad. Let’s take this game of what-if one step further. The GOOG guys come back in two months with the following, “hey buddy, that app of yours is performing really well. You made more money on those 20% ads than we thought. What we would love to do is run ads 100% of the time. Of course, you are free to sell that ad space yourself. I’m sure you have a full time ad sales force. We’re only a multi-billion dollar company focused soley on monetizing pageviews, but feel free to go it alone if you want.” To the developer, this could be music to your ears - focus on building the application, and GOOG does the monetization for you. If you really wanted to go crazy, one could imagine a world where GOOG says to their developers, “$5 bounty for all new GOOG accounts created through your app.”

Bottom line: GOOG is motivated by feeding the GOOG beast and monetizing pageviews. That shines through in the design of their app delivery vehicle, the tight coupling of the services, and the expected design patters of the applications to be built on their infrastructure.

Microsoft
With all of the above points in mind, hopefully you can start drawing some pretty good conclusions about the potential future directions of the competitive cloud platforms in the market. As for MSFT, there are plenty of things I could say, but let me simply state what I believe to be our motivations. We are a platform company. We very much believe that we are in the business of delivering the best platform and tools to developers to build great applications. Our on-premise stack has proven to be extremely successful over the last several decades. With the release of the Azure Services Platform, one of the core design tenets was that we would like to achieve parity between our on and off-premise stacks. The entirety of the Azure Services Platform is designed to enable experienced MSFT developers to be combat effective on day one.

However, the platform, from my point of view, is but a part of the engine. The heart of the engine is the application that you plan to build. GOOG very much believes that the web is the platform, and thus the web browser is the only delivery vehicle for applications. We have a divergent opinion. It seems absolutely crazy to me that a person carries around more computing power in their pocket today (cell phone) than was available a scant 15 years ago in the high end desktop computers, and GOOG believes that those processor cycles should be shunted aside. Our software plus services strategy really is about enabling developers to deliver the right experience to their customers, on the preferred end point device, at the right time from a single piece of infrastructure. We are motivated by our developers building great applications, and Azure is the final leg of the software plus services strategy.


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

More Stories By Brandon Watson

Brandon Watson is Director for Windows Phone 7. He specifically focuses on developers and the developer platform. He rejoined Microsoft in 2008 after nearly a decade on Wall Street and running successful start-ups. He has both an engineering degree and an economics degree from the University of Pennsylvania, as well as an MBA from The Wharton School of Business, and blogs at www.manyniches.com.

Comments (0)

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.


@ThingsExpo Stories
Extracting business value from Internet of Things (IoT) data doesn’t happen overnight. There are several requirements that must be satisfied, including IoT device enablement, data analysis, real-time detection of complex events and automated orchestration of actions. Unfortunately, too many companies fall short in achieving their business goals by implementing incomplete solutions or not focusing on tangible use cases. In his general session at @ThingsExpo, Dave McCarthy, Director of Products...
"At ROHA we develop an app called Catcha. It was developed after we spent a year meeting with, talking to, interacting with senior citizens watching them use their smartphones and talking to them about how they use their smartphones so we could get to know their smartphone behavior," explained Dave Woods, Chief Innovation Officer at ROHA, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 19th Cloud Expo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
SYS-CON Events has announced today that Roger Strukhoff has been named conference chair of Cloud Expo and @ThingsExpo 2017 New York. The 20th Cloud Expo and 7th @ThingsExpo will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. "The Internet of Things brings trillions of dollars of opportunity to developers and enterprise IT, no matter how you measure it," stated Roger Strukhoff. "More importantly, it leverages the power of devices and the Internet to enable us all to im...
We are always online. We access our data, our finances, work, and various services on the Internet. But we live in a congested world of information in which the roads were built two decades ago. The quest for better, faster Internet routing has been around for a decade, but nobody solved this problem. We’ve seen band-aid approaches like CDNs that attack a niche's slice of static content part of the Internet, but that’s it. It does not address the dynamic services-based Internet of today. It does...
The many IoT deployments around the world are busy integrating smart devices and sensors into their enterprise IT infrastructures. Yet all of this technology – and there are an amazing number of choices – is of no use without the software to gather, communicate, and analyze the new data flows. Without software, there is no IT. In this power panel at @ThingsExpo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, Dave McCarthy, Director of Products at Bsquare Corporation; Alan Williamson, Principal...
"ReadyTalk is an audio and web video conferencing provider. We've really come to embrace WebRTC as the platform for our future of technology," explained Dan Cunningham, CTO of ReadyTalk, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at WebRTC Summit at 19th Cloud Expo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
20th Cloud Expo, taking place June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. Cloud computing is now being embraced by a majority of enterprises of all sizes. Yesterday's debate about public vs. private has transformed into the reality of hybrid cloud: a recent survey shows that 74% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud strategy.
IoT solutions exploit operational data generated by Internet-connected smart “things” for the purpose of gaining operational insight and producing “better outcomes” (for example, create new business models, eliminate unscheduled maintenance, etc.). The explosive proliferation of IoT solutions will result in an exponential growth in the volume of IoT data, precipitating significant Information Governance issues: who owns the IoT data, what are the rights/duties of IoT solutions adopters towards t...
WebRTC is the future of browser-to-browser communications, and continues to make inroads into the traditional, difficult, plug-in web communications world. The 6th WebRTC Summit continues our tradition of delivering the latest and greatest presentations within the world of WebRTC. Topics include voice calling, video chat, P2P file sharing, and use cases that have already leveraged the power and convenience of WebRTC.
Unsecured IoT devices were used to launch crippling DDOS attacks in October 2016, targeting services such as Twitter, Spotify, and GitHub. Subsequent testimony to Congress about potential attacks on office buildings, schools, and hospitals raised the possibility for the IoT to harm and even kill people. What should be done? Does the government need to intervene? This panel at @ThingExpo New York brings together leading IoT and security experts to discuss this very serious topic.
In his keynote at 18th Cloud Expo, Andrew Keys, Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise, provided an overview of the evolution of the Internet and the Database and the future of their combination – the Blockchain. Andrew Keys is Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise. He comes to ConsenSys Enterprise with capital markets, technology and entrepreneurial experience. Previously, he worked for UBS investment bank in equities analysis. Later, he was responsible for the creation and distribution of life sett...
20th Cloud Expo, taking place June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. Cloud computing is now being embraced by a majority of enterprises of all sizes. Yesterday's debate about public vs. private has transformed into the reality of hybrid cloud: a recent survey shows that 74% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud strategy.
Whether your IoT service is connecting cars, homes, appliances, wearable, cameras or other devices, one question hangs in the balance – how do you actually make money from this service? The ability to turn your IoT service into profit requires the ability to create a monetization strategy that is flexible, scalable and working for you in real-time. It must be a transparent, smoothly implemented strategy that all stakeholders – from customers to the board – will be able to understand and comprehe...
An IoT product’s log files speak volumes about what’s happening with your products in the field, pinpointing current and potential issues, and enabling you to predict failures and save millions of dollars in inventory. But until recently, no one knew how to listen. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Dan Gettens, Chief Research Officer at OnProcess, discussed recent research by Massachusetts Institute of Technology and OnProcess Technology, where MIT created a new, breakthrough analytics model for ...
DevOps is being widely accepted (if not fully adopted) as essential in enterprise IT. But as Enterprise DevOps gains maturity, expands scope, and increases velocity, the need for data-driven decisions across teams becomes more acute. DevOps teams in any modern business must wrangle the ‘digital exhaust’ from the delivery toolchain, "pervasive" and "cognitive" computing, APIs and services, mobile devices and applications, the Internet of Things, and now even blockchain. In this power panel at @...
More and more brands have jumped on the IoT bandwagon. We have an excess of wearables – activity trackers, smartwatches, smart glasses and sneakers, and more that track seemingly endless datapoints. However, most consumers have no idea what “IoT” means. Creating more wearables that track data shouldn't be the aim of brands; delivering meaningful, tangible relevance to their users should be. We're in a period in which the IoT pendulum is still swinging. Initially, it swung toward "smart for smar...
With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing IoT strategies, now is the perfect time to attend @ThingsExpo 2016 in New York. 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 June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, New York, is co-located with 20th Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry p...
"We build IoT infrastructure products - when you have to integrate different devices, different systems and cloud you have to build an application to do that but we eliminate the need to build an application. Our products can integrate any device, any system, any cloud regardless of protocol," explained Peter Jung, Chief Product Officer at Pulzze Systems, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Internet of @ThingsExpo has announced today that Chris Matthieu has been named tech chair of Internet of @ThingsExpo 2017 New York The 7th Internet of @ThingsExpo will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, New York. Chris Matthieu is the co-founder and CTO of Octoblu, a revolutionary real-time IoT platform recently acquired by Citrix. Octoblu connects things, systems, people and clouds to a global mesh network allowing users to automate and control design flo...
In addition to all the benefits, IoT is also bringing new kind of customer experience challenges - cars that unlock themselves, thermostats turning houses into saunas and baby video monitors broadcasting over the internet. This list can only increase because while IoT services should be intuitive and simple to use, the delivery ecosystem is a myriad of potential problems as IoT explodes complexity. So finding a performance issue is like finding the proverbial needle in the haystack.