How credible is EC2’s competition?
Amazon’s Elastic Computing Cloud (ec2) is offering over 1500 AMI’s (virtual appliances). It’s recent foray into Europe highlights its aggressive pursuit of a land grab strategy. So, what has its competition in the US been up to? Every major web hosting vendor has announced a cloud initiative:
- The Rackspace cloud is called Mosso. Its prices compare favorably with Amazon’s. Its pricing calculator and spreadsheets can be found here.
- Savvis has a VMWare ESX based offering for Windows and Linux
- AT&T is also offering VMWare ESX based hosting Windows, Linux and Solaris x86. They intend to offer Citrix XenServer and Microsoft Hyper-V in the future. AT&T offers SLA’s for cloud services, a first.
- Terremark has also launced an Enterprise Cloud, which incidentally is a utility computing cloud sans virtualization
- IBM’s cloud initiative has its products available as AMI’s on ec2.
- Sungard has not yet publicly announced its cloud plans.
- Verizon is slated to announce its cloud initiative in Summer 2009
Amazon’s ec2 is nearly three years old now (Mar 2006) and competition has started appearing on the horizon just over the past year. If you look at the timescale of announcements,
- Rackspace’s Mosso is just over a year old (Feb 2008),
- Terremark’s cloud is nine months old (June 2008),
- AT&T’s cloud is seven months old (Aug 2008),
- IBM’s AMI launch on ec2 and Savvis’ cloud is three weeks old (Feb 2009).
Since ec2 was first to market, the Rackspace, AT&T and Savvis cloud offerings have a “me too” feel to them. However, unlike other vendors, Rackspace has published pricing on the Web and it appears to be very competitive with ec2.
Unlike Amazon, Savvis and AT&T are going the buy versus build route to get fast time to market. They are initially launching their service using VMWare technology put together using Professional Services instead of following Amazon’s approach of building a proprietary infrastructure using Open Source software as its foundation. In fact, this may be the preferred route amongst the upper echelons of cloud service providers. There is optimism that providing cloud services is a growth business. I am noticing startups like Enomaly (“Build your own private elastic cloud”) and VMOps (“launch ec2 today”, aka public cloud) offering cloud infrastrcture products.
In conclusion, credible competition is emerging and there are real alternatives to ec2 available today. However, given the state of the economy, I think the market will begin to form by 2010 and should reach critical mass by 2011-2012.