Welcome!

Containers Expo Blog Authors: Liz McMillan, Pat Romanski, Elizabeth White, Yeshim Deniz, Flint Brenton

Related Topics: @CloudExpo, Containers Expo Blog

@CloudExpo: Article

Cloud Computing Casts Shadow on Walled Gardens

The problem with walled gardens is that they ultimately restrict the growth of the market

Billy Marshall's Blog

As a technology provider that helps application companies embrace cloud computing by virtualizing the applications to run on any cloud, I was a bit disappointed with Google's AppEngine announcement. It appears that Google is embracing the “walled garden” approach of salesforce.com and Microsoft instead of the cloud approach of Amazon. I believe that walled gardens will ultimately be overshadowed by clouds because you cannot achieve webscale computing if every application has to run on a server owned by Google.

Historically, Google has been very good about providing APIs that enable applications to access its web services independent of the computer on which they run. This is an important concept because it is often the case that an application needs to run on a particular network or network segment in order to preserve some critical aspect of performance or security. It is also important because it provides developers with the broadest choice of system and programming tools when developing or maintaining their applications. If you must program the application in the Python implementation specified by Google and run it on a Google server in order to take advantage of services like BigTable and Sawzall

, a huge segment of the application market has just been eliminated from consideration (note that it is unclear to me at this time if Big Table and Sawzall can be accessed independent of appengine).

Why not simply expose a virtual machine API (such as Amazon Machine Image) along with the API for the web services (such as Amazon's S3, SQS, etc.)? Application instances that require minimal latency to Google services are provisioned as virtualized appliances on a Google server. For applications that need to run on a different network, you can provision the same system definition to that network while accessing the web services over the Internet. Write the program in any language you choose. With any set of system components that you choose.

The problem with walled gardens is that they ultimately restrict the growth of the market. While it is true that an attractive and well manicured walled garden will result in asymetrically large economic rent for the owner of the garden (witness Microsoft), the size of the market is nonetheless constrained. It seems to me that Google would reap the greatest benefit from maximizing the market for cloud applications quickly – independent of their ability to collect an asymetrically large portion of the rent from that market. Even their marketing of the current implementation of appengine indicates this hypothesis is correct – it is free. Success with cloud computing will no doubt lead to a decline in the value of the Microsoft system software franchise (the ultimate walled garden). Why not accelerate that decline with broad market capability instead of yet another walled garden (YAWG)?

Let me provide a concrete example. rPath was approached by a SaaS application provider to help them release their on-demand application as an on-premise application – without sacrificing management control of the system software. They want on-premise capability in order to meet the data security requirements of a certain segment of the market which they have been unable to penetrate with their SaaS offering. Their current application runs on Microsoft server technology, but it is written in Java so skipping out of the Microsoft walled garden was pretty trivial. We provided them with a virtualized implementation of their application, and we demonstrated how it could run on a local network atop a hypervisor, or as a variable cost implementation on Amazon's elastic compute cloud (EC2). Their reaction was so positive that they are now planning to gradually migrate their entire infrastructure from Microsoft to virtual infrastructure in order to seamlessly deliver the application via SaaS, variable cost cloud (Amazon), and local network (virtual appliance). Without changing their preference for programming language. Without sacrificing control of the system software layer.

To be fair to Google, appengine is a beta service. I have no doubt that they made compromises in architecture in order to get the service out the door more quickly. I hope they follow Amazon's lead and expose all of their great services as true web services while enabling any application to run close to those services via a simple virtualization spec such as Amazon's AMI. The faster we take the market to cloud computing, the sooner we can kill off the walled gardens through webscale shadows that deprive them of economic sunlight.

More Stories By Billy Marshall

Prior to founding rPath, Billy served as Red Hat's Vice President of North America Sales from 2001 until 2005.Billy conceived and oversaw the launch of Red Hat Network, the platform that enabled Red Hat's subscription revenue model. Billy also worked in IBM Global Services where he worked with global leaders such as Boeing, Ford, Eaton, Mercedes Benz, and Raytheon.

Comments (5) 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
Dean J. Garrett 07/21/08 12:39:41 AM EDT

One important but less discussed trend made possible by cloud computing is the number of useful "database community websites" being published. Such a site is similiar to a wiki in how the site's data content is provided by the users themselves. The sites are free to all who want to search the database and to post new data. The sites are made possible by the use of cloud databases, Software-as-a-Service solutions designed to make web database publishing quick, simple and cheap. Here are two good examples of database community sites:

www.PhotoEnforced.com - this site publishes a database of locations where cameras are used at street intersections to photograph violators.

www.GasPricesCentral.com - this site publishes a database of gas prices in metro areas around the country.

These kinds of sites are serving a public need by distributing useful data openly through the cloud. This is just one area where cloud computing is making
a difference.

James Urquhart 06/08/08 01:03:08 AM EDT

"I believe that walled gardens will ultimately be overshadowed by clouds because you cannot achieve webscale computing if every application has to run on a server owned by Google."

Um...but...Google is kind of the *definition* of webscale computing, isn't it? If they can't scale your application, who can?

Also, is an open source API still a walled garden? If 5 businesses are build that replicate the Google model in other datacenters (including, perhaps, EC2...already done in prototype), then haven't the walls crumbled?

I, alternatively, see the problem as one of Google building its own "solar system", with a cluster of options centered around its model. Amazon, too, has proprietary lock-in (the AMI--though this seems to be opening up some), so it is also building its own "solar system". Have you seen [http://eucalyptus.cs.ucsb.edu/]?

Over time, I think we will see standards in "layers", such as at the IaaS, PaaS and SaaS levels. RPath will certainly make big money off of the layers it abstracts, but it should be content that money can be made at other layers without their involvement.

Neil Mansilla 05/16/08 03:33:45 PM EDT

I've been working and deploying applications on the Web since 1994. I've gone from shared hosting on SGI boxes, to dedicated hosting, to co-location with Verio and Level3 (still have a couple racks full of equipment running there). I've decided to launch my latest Web/mobile app on AWS (Amazon Web Services), [http://ahTXT.com/ ahTXT.com (eBay auction monitoring and wireless alerts)] because of this primary reason: I no longer wish to manage hardware.

Amazon's EC2 is fantsatic.. even their smallest instance class is a high-performance server. However, all fancy-fluff and buzz-terms aside, EC2, at the end of the day, is just a virtual server. Your instance is just a Xen image. This means that at the end of the day, unless you implement some type of management solution (or outsource this to a management provider), you're dealing with a virtual server -- pretty much just like every other dime-a-dozen virtual server providers out there.

The benefit is the fact that you're running on enterprise-class equipment from top-to-bottom. That includes the servers, network switches, routers, probably even down to the quality of the cables. That also includes power redundancy/failover, environmental control (cooling/humidity), and so on. You don't quite get that with your run-of-the-mill $19.99/month "VPS" (virtual private server).

Again, my impetus behind using AWS was that I no longer wanted to manage hardware. But there are other important reasons, too. For starters, you cannot rely on cheap VPS for mission-critical applications. Secondly, you only pay for what you eat.. so if you want to launch 7 more instances and are clever enough to software load-balance between then, you can do that during a peak transaction period.. then kill the extra instances, and stop paying (you pay by the hour).

Okay, enough about AWS..

I watched the campfire presentation of Google App Engine and was initially excited. They took it a step further by taking away the need to launch additional instances and manage a cluster to load-balance, etc. I love the thought of building an app that gets slammed with billions of daily transactions and would not break, or even bend, for that matter.

But indeed, the thought of being locked into an architecture for a real business is kind of scary. I know, for instance, that if Amazon's service level started to fall, I could simply take my app back to the co-lo and load balance it across physical servers, and do it quite well. However, if Google ever decided to can my app, or demand more money than I could afford to pay to keep my app alive on their architecture, I'd have to re-write the software to be more like my traditional apps that run Apache/Tomcat on Linux, etc. and not the magical kingdom of Google and its AppEngine.

You know, there are third-party providers out there that are built on the AWS EC2/S3 architecture, and deliver the same promise -- "build your app, and we'll handle everything else." (scale, load, instances/servers, storage, etc.) If you're waiting around for Google to re-tool AppEngine for your development platform (PHP, Perl, Ruby, etc.), you may just want to check out these managed service providers on the AWS platform.

Bert Armijo 05/15/08 05:04:24 AM EDT

I agree in principle, but IMHO your argument is somewhat myopic. It's certainly clear why, as CEO of rPath, AppEngine is a walled garden to you. However, to be fair, I'm sure F5 or Checkpoint would see AWS as equally closed. As would many other vendors who's products don't fit easily into Amazon's unique AMI and storage model.

A more wholistic view of cloud computing is needed that allows for simple specification of requirements and interfaces so users can build applications and services that span the cloud.

Troy Tolle 05/03/08 11:23:40 AM EDT

I am in agreement here. I was excited to see Google jump in offering a computing infrastructure for their users, but I was disappointed that we could not use more than python. We have been using Amazon Web Services for 2 years for DigitalChalk and I was hoping to see some interesting alternatives pop up from Google. I think Google does have the right idea of handing scale transparently for the user. This is a great plus and a move that is welcomed but I would like to see other languages such as PHP and Java supported.

@ThingsExpo Stories
Detecting internal user threats in the Big Data eco-system is challenging and cumbersome. Many organizations monitor internal usage of the Big Data eco-system using a set of alerts. This is not a scalable process given the increase in the number of alerts with the accelerating growth in data volume and user base. Organizations are increasingly leveraging machine learning to monitor only those data elements that are sensitive and critical, autonomously establish monitoring policies, and to detect...
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 settl...
In his session at @ThingsExpo, Dr. Robert Cohen, an economist and senior fellow at the Economic Strategy Institute, presented the findings of a series of six detailed case studies of how large corporations are implementing IoT. The session explored how IoT has improved their economic performance, had major impacts on business models and resulted in impressive ROIs. The companies covered span manufacturing and services firms. He also explored servicification, how manufacturing firms shift from se...
DevOpsSummit New York 2018, colocated with CloudEXPO | DXWorldEXPO New York 2018 will be held November 11-13, 2018, in New York City. Digital Transformation (DX) is a major focus with the introduction of DXWorldEXPO within the program. Successful transformation requires a laser focus on being data-driven and on using all the tools available that enable transformation if they plan to survive over the long term. A total of 88% of Fortune 500 companies from a generation ago are now out of bus...
The Jevons Paradox suggests that when technological advances increase efficiency of a resource, it results in an overall increase in consumption. Writing on the increased use of coal as a result of technological improvements, 19th-century economist William Stanley Jevons found that these improvements led to the development of new ways to utilize coal. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Mark Thiele, Chief Strategy Officer for Apcera, compared the Jevons Paradox to modern-day enterprise IT, examin...
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...
Amazon started as an online bookseller 20 years ago. Since then, it has evolved into a technology juggernaut that has disrupted multiple markets and industries and touches many aspects of our lives. It is a relentless technology and business model innovator driving disruption throughout numerous ecosystems. Amazon’s AWS revenues alone are approaching $16B a year making it one of the largest IT companies in the world. With dominant offerings in Cloud, IoT, eCommerce, Big Data, AI, Digital Assista...
Organizations planning enterprise data center consolidation and modernization projects are faced with a challenging, costly reality. Requirements to deploy modern, cloud-native applications simultaneously with traditional client/server applications are almost impossible to achieve with hardware-centric enterprise infrastructure. Compute and network infrastructure are fast moving down a software-defined path, but storage has been a laggard. Until now.
Digital Transformation is much more than a buzzword. The radical shift to digital mechanisms for almost every process is evident across all industries and verticals. This is often especially true in financial services, where the legacy environment is many times unable to keep up with the rapidly shifting demands of the consumer. The constant pressure to provide complete, omnichannel delivery of customer-facing solutions to meet both regulatory and customer demands is putting enormous pressure on...
In his general session at 19th Cloud Expo, Manish Dixit, VP of Product and Engineering at Dice, discussed how Dice leverages data insights and tools to help both tech professionals and recruiters better understand how skills relate to each other and which skills are in high demand using interactive visualizations and salary indicator tools to maximize earning potential. Manish Dixit is VP of Product and Engineering at Dice. As the leader of the Product, Engineering and Data Sciences team at D...
DXWorldEXPO LLC announced today that All in Mobile, a mobile app development company from Poland, will exhibit at the 22nd International CloudEXPO | DXWorldEXPO. All In Mobile is a mobile app development company from Poland. Since 2014, they maintain passion for developing mobile applications for enterprises and startups worldwide.
"Akvelon is a software development company and we also provide consultancy services to folks who are looking to scale or accelerate their engineering roadmaps," explained Jeremiah Mothersell, Marketing Manager at Akvelon, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
IoT is at the core or many Digital Transformation initiatives with the goal of re-inventing a company's business model. We all agree that collecting relevant IoT data will result in massive amounts of data needing to be stored. However, with the rapid development of IoT devices and ongoing business model transformation, we are not able to predict the volume and growth of IoT data. And with the lack of IoT history, traditional methods of IT and infrastructure planning based on the past do not app...
DXWorldEXPO LLC announced today that the upcoming DXWorldEXPO | CloudEXPO New York event will feature 10 companies from Poland to participate at the "Poland Digital Transformation Pavilion" on November 12-13, 2018.
22nd International Cloud Expo, taking place June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and co-located with the 1st DXWorld Expo 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 ...
@DevOpsSummit at Cloud Expo, taking place November 12-13 in New York City, NY, is co-located with 22nd international CloudEXPO | first international DXWorldEXPO and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world.
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 smart...
As data explodes in quantity, importance and from new sources, the need for managing and protecting data residing across physical, virtual, and cloud environments grow with it. Managing data includes protecting it, indexing and classifying it for true, long-term management, compliance and E-Discovery. Commvault can ensure this with a single pane of glass solution – whether in a private cloud, a Service Provider delivered public cloud or a hybrid cloud environment – across the heterogeneous enter...
DXWorldEXPO LLC announced today that ICC-USA, a computer systems integrator and server manufacturing company focused on developing products and product appliances, will exhibit at the 22nd International CloudEXPO | DXWorldEXPO. DXWordEXPO New York 2018, colocated with CloudEXPO New York 2018 will be held November 11-13, 2018, in New York City. ICC is a computer systems integrator and server manufacturing company focused on developing products and product appliances to meet a wide range of ...
Michael Maximilien, better known as max or Dr. Max, is a computer scientist with IBM. At IBM Research Triangle Park, he was a principal engineer for the worldwide industry point-of-sale standard: JavaPOS. At IBM Research, some highlights include pioneering research on semantic Web services, mashups, and cloud computing, and platform-as-a-service. He joined the IBM Cloud Labs in 2014 and works closely with Pivotal Inc., to help make the Cloud Found the best PaaS.