While most eyes are on Google and Microsoft, Amazon has emerged as the company doing the heaviest lifting to advance cloud computing. Look for Amazon to move up the stack by offering additional tools for cloud developers in 2009, putting them at odds with the partner ecosystem they’ve built around companies such as RightScale, Elastra, 3tera and Appistry.
There was an element of that prediction that we knew was a given. Amazon had already discussed adding features like load balancing and auto-scaling to the mix in 2009. But there were a number of lingering questions, such as how would they respond to end-user demand for a management console.
Well, we’re barely into 2009 and Amazon has just announced the https://console.aws.amazon.com. If you’re an Amazon EC2 user head on over. You don’t need to do anything special to enable the console: it’s there and it’s free; just log in using your AWS credentials.
They’ve done a very nice job with the console, but you’ve got to admit–they set the bar pretty low for themselves in this department :-).
Many people’s first reaction seems to be “Uh oh for RightScale.” As mentioned in the prediction, this will have obvious implications for the Amazon partner ecosystem. The broader implications are much more significant though.
As demonstrated by the Appistry-CloudCamp Inside the Cloud survey, Amazon is one of the best known and regarded names in cloud computing (Question 4, “Who is Leading”, November 2008). As a result, Amazon EC2 is one of the first places people look when they want to get a taste of cloud computing. Frankly, I shudder to think of how many potential cloud users were turned away from cloud altogether by the complexity of the EC2 command-line tools, key generation routines, and over-all lack of a user friendly console.
So, by putting out the welcome mat for the less-hard-core of us, Amazon has taken an important step to making cloud infrastructure more accessible to the masses. A very good thing, indeed.
Clearly this new console will perturb a few established positions in the space. It creates complexity for RightScale in that Amazon now offers for free what many perceive to be their core value proposition: putting a pretty face on EC2.
There are implications here for GoGrid as well–they’ve got a nice GUI console that I’m sure helped them win users over EC2. Now it’s on them to emphasize the company’s well-proven chops in the hosting business, their outstanding team and track record, and their innovative features.
I’m sure these companies will get beyond this new complexity in part because they’re good companies managed by strong teams, but in part because–as mentioned above–the major implication of Amazon’s move is to simply expand the cloud pie for everyone.
Right now the console only supports base-level EC2 functionality, but Amazon is planning to turn this into the management hub for all AWS services. Users will be able to manage their S3 buckets, create SimpleDB queries, manage queues in SQS and more. This will also be the primary way users will access the forthcoming monitoring, load balancing and auto-scaling features as well.
I’m looking forward to all of these.
*** UPDATE ***
It’s 10 AM Central Time – the west coasties are barely even up – and the new console is already down for the count. It would be great if it were cloud-powered, then they could just scale it up to meet the growing end-user demand. Doh!