Clouds gathering

Clouds Along the Road Photo by Reini68

Charles Cooper has an interesting post about cloud infrastructure and the impact it has on developers and IT professionals.

"So you’ve got a whole generation of start-ups that are basically just a couple of programmers with a couple of laptops, and they upload everything into the Amazon cloud. It’s pay-by-the-drink like utility. So all of a sudden, you have this whole new wave of Internet start-ups getting started for practically no money, right? So there is a level of innovation."

Amazon has done a fantastic job of building the foundation for the next generation of software infrastructure. Amazon Web Services (AWS) provides basic services in the cloud. EC2 for computation on Windows, Linux, and OpenSolaris. Database support including Oracle, SQL Server, MySQL. Application development in .NET, Java, Ruby. The AWS platform includes computation, storage, querying and indexing, queuing, payments, and a basic CDN. More importantly, AWS is the beginning of how the next generation of developers and IT professionals will build and manage applications in the cloud.

Dana Gardner explains why the IBM-Amazon deal is about enabling the best enterprise IT channel. For IBM it’s the perfect combination of services, technology and deployment. For Amazon, it provides an additional way to monetize their investment in infrastructure for their retail business. Brilliant!

Microsoft, Adobe, Google, Mozilla and Apple are fighting for the client. Microsoft, Linux and Java are fighting for the server. Oracle, Microsoft, MySQL and PostgreSQL are fighting for the database. Amazon is not alone, there are competitors including GoGrid, RackSpace, ElasticHosts, Google and others (MediaTemple and Joyent come to mind).

One small step for…

Where is Microsoft in the fray? Microsoft building Azure (my previous post on Azure). Azure is interesting because like Amazon’s AWS to get the most out of the platform, you have to architect applications for the new services provided by cloud providers. Azure unlike EC2 does not have an easy way to upload your existing applications onto cloud/virtualized hardware. The real benefit of the Rackspace/GoGrid/Amazon infrastructures are the ability for developers to very easily move their applications to the cloud offering at a reduced cost without having to re-write, re-architect everything from scratch.

I wonder if this transition state for developers and IT professionals is the real innovation. Being able to adopt the cloud as a lower cost infrastructure alternative is extremely compelling. The opportunity to optimize your application, learn new development tools, application design patterns and underlying architecture that provides an ongoing personal investment in bettering your application and your skills.