Google vs Amazon in Open Infrastructure

200712141754Nick Carr is predicting Google will open it’s infrastructure to the world:

The article also includes an interesting, if ambiguous, passage in which Eric Schmidt implies that Google will rent out its supercomputer to outside developers and businesses the way that does through Amazon Web Services:

“Schmidt won’t say how much of its own capacity Google will offer to outsiders, or under what conditions or at what prices. “Typically, we like to start with free,” he says, adding that power users “should probably bear some of the costs.” And how big will these clouds grow? “There’s no limit,” Schmidt says. As this strategy unfolds, more people are starting to see that Google is poised to become a dominant force in the next stage of computing. “Google aspires to be a large portion of the cloud, or a cloud that you would interact with every day,” the CEO says.”

You can read this full article over on Business Week.

Where have we heard that before? Oh, that’s right. I told you about this back in September:

An audience member went up to the microphone and asked if Google had plans to provide BigTable, GFS, and MapReduce to the public as a web service. Larry looked RIGHT at Jeff Dean as if to say “if only they knew what we know”. I was in Larry’s direct line of sight so the look was plain as day.

It seem inevitable that Google will provide a similar feature (especially with Amazon doing it) but I think the main issue is a question of time.

Not to be out done, Amazon announced SimpleDB today.

Amazon SimpleDB is a web service for running queries on structured data in real time. This service works in close conjunction with Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) and Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2), collectively providing the ability to store, process and query data sets in the cloud. These services are designed to make web-scale computing easier and more cost-effective for developers.

Techcrunch thinks you should fire all your DBAs. Nitin is impressed too.

I’m still very skeptical about ALL of this.

First. Last time I checked, Amazon’s bandwidth pricing was insane. It would literally cost us 3x more to host Spinn3r. Granted, we process a LOT of data (from 60-160Mbits per month) but when your startup is successful you don’t want to burn it all your AdSense revenues on bandwidth invoices courtesy of Amazon.

Second. Real world applications are VERY complex. These systems are going to work out very well when you’re inside the firewall. What if EC2 starts to fall over for you? Now you’re STUCK at Amazon because you can’t port to alternative database. API calls will also be highly latent.

This is going to work out for very early stage startups though. It’s also going to work out well for startups like Powerset who have a high work unit / computational time ratio. (small work unit, tons of compute time). They can just send EC2 a small bit of work and wait until the result comes back.

However, what if you’re the next YouTube? You decide to host on Amazon and then all of a sudden Google comes knocking to acquire you. Now what? It’s going to be a VERY hard sell for Google. All your data is already on Amazon. They’re going to have to move it off. Second. Amazon can come in and low bid Google because the application is PERFECT for them (it’s already on their infrastructure) and they know you can’t really switch.

200712141830No. What this does is put a lot more pressure on Sun.

Are you listening Jonathan Schwartz?

I don’t want Google Web Services. I don’t want Amazon Web Services.

I want raw machine power. I want root. I want to run my own databases. I want my machines racked together on 10Gbit. I want real HDDs (or even SSD). I want new machines provisioned within hours and MOST of all I want to LEASE the hardware.

Sun’s Startup Essentials program is GREAT but I have to pay cash for the hardware. You know what? I’d rather pay 5-15% more and lease my machines? Why? I’m a startup – limited resources. I want to use this cash to hire hot shot Java engineers.

The historical problem with leasing is that companies like Dell and Sun have to run credit checks on your new startup. News flash. Small startups that have been in business for 3 months don’t have credit yet.

Solution? Simple. Just lease me the machines but don’t EVER give me physical access to them. If I don’t pay – yank access and give them to another customer.

Who does this now? Serverbeach is doing a great job for us. They don’t have a lot of competition though. Rackspace is their only major competitor but in their infinite stupidity they have refused to support Debian.

The truth here is that there’s still a huge market in hardware. Companies like Technorati, Digg, Powerset, Spinn3r, etc will NEVER trust the majority of their compute infrastructure to a large and potential competitor.

  1. Nitin Borwankar

    Hi Kevin,

    I didn’t get into this in my post on GigaOm but Amazon appears to be going for the long-tail of the web app hosting business. Sites/businesses at the head of the distribution, that have complex custom needs, will never be a good fit for Amazon WS.

    When your app grows large enough you may be better off moving to your own servers – but when you factor in the cost of sysadmin time does it still come out cheaper? I don’t know – I haven’t run the numbers. And how do you quantify the cost of down time?

    On a different note Sun should be listening to your suggestion to lease their servers. They have had their “grid” service available for a long time where Jonathan Schwartz talked about how all you need is a credit card.
    The fine print though is you can’t run your own software, you can’t run your own databases, … end of the day its only good for massive numerical calculations.

    I have been talking to some folks at Sun about Data Warehousing as a service but I can’t get anyone to tell me who is the right person to talk with. :-(

  2. neogenix


    So the reason that Rackspace doesn’t support debian at the moment is mostly just due to upstream support for the operating system. What this mostly boils down to is that, if they have to escalate a bug to somewhere (outside of rackspace, because having developers in house to just fix bugs for customers is way too expensive to be good buisness sense), where do they do that (while still having ‘SLA’ and being able to keep their promises to clients)…

    They are investigating Ubuntu, Suse, Solaris, and other ‘corporate’ distributions that have a support and escalation path… It’s more just, how can you make a promise you can’t keep, like ‘fully supporting an OS’… :)


  3. Yeah… I’ve heard that excuse before. Don’t take this the wrong way but – it’s a cop out.

    It’s one thing if the hardware isn’t supported but if it’s a well supported hardware linux will support it out of the box.

    I’ve been running Debian for ~ 5-10 years and at LEAST 5 in mission critical environments and I’ve NEVER needed escalated support.

    RedHat. The reason you need support for RedHat is because it’s garbage and they’re the only ones who know how they put it together.



  4. netrx

    Youhave just described you should check them out, and yes they have Debian!

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