Cloud News Recap: May 6, 2014

By Colby Dyess | May 06, 2014

It's been two weeks since our last Eucalyptus and cloud news recap, so there's plenty of ground to cover. For starters, you may have noticed that we just released our redesigned website homepage. The new site has an improved navigation menu and better content layout based on usability testing. Hopefully our users are now able to find the information they need much more quickly and easily. Let us know, we'd love to hear what you think!

AWS Summit London

Eucalyptus was well represented at the Amazon Web Services Summit in London in late April, at which Amazon reiterated its plans to target enterprise customers and also work with channel partners that are building solutions on top of AWS. AWS continues to build on its lead in the increasingly competitive public infrastructure-as-a-service market. Small and large organizations have both gravitated toward AWS, with major implications for both public and private cloud vendors.

Private clouds can no longer be positioned defensively as strict alternatives to public resources, but instead must become complements. Eucalyptus enables organizations to tap into the core benefits of AWS and create scalable, cost-effective infrastructure for dev/test within the security of their data centers, with the ability to push workloads to AWS as needed.

Here's some of what made headlines over the past two weeks:

What IaaS Providers Don't Advertise to Potential Customers

The IaaS space is getting crowded, quick. Microsoft, Google and others are eager to chip into AWS's lead, whether through dramatic price cuts, new technical features or a combination thereof. Accordingly, it's more important than ever for buyers to know what they're actually getting when they select a vendor.

In an article for neovise, Andrew Bohling looked at 12 things that IaaS vendors don't advertise. Many of his bullet points will be familiar to industry watchers - i.e., instances are often oversubscribed, network bandwidth can become costly and shifting data from one cloud to another is much more difficult than moving it in.

He also looked at some more nuanced points, such as the growing need for multiple clouds to meet business requirements and the importance of hardware in supporting applications. Being able to pair the best appliances with a solution such as Eucalyptus can give an organization an edge over using the provider's boxes.

"There can be significant benefits from using best-of-breed hardware to support your high-performance applications and services," explained Bohling. "This is especially true when your applications have not been designed to scale in and out as demand changes, or when they haven't been architected to achieve massive I/O with spinning disks."

Amazon Shows Strong Earnings in Cloud Business

Amazon does not break down actual revenue for AWS, but the "Other" portion of its balance sheet - which includes AWS - saw a 58 percent year-over-year revenue increase to $1.26 billion. Amazon executives marked the occasion by touting the series of AWS price cuts and underscoring the company's new focus on integrating with different types of IT, rather than being a pure play public cloud vendor.

After the most recent AWS Summit, AWS Ireland and U.K. director Iain Gavin stated that more customers were being brought to AWS via the channel. Partners are also increasingly building solutions on top of AWS in order to take advantage of its trademark scalability and diverse collection of services.

Small and Large Businesses Alike Making the Transition to AWS

AWS is the backbone of plenty of large-scale operations, from Netflix to Reddit, but it is also a feasible option for startups and SMBs that are looking to avoid capital-intensive infrastructure investment. Platforms such as AWS provide a pay-as-you-go business model that works for some of these organizations.

Writing for SmartData Collective, Connectria Hosting's Mike Solomonov noted that AWS enjoyed 55 percent growth in 2013, outpacing the cloud industry as a whole. In addition to core services such as Amazon S3, AWS has a growing portfolio of amenities that enable users to set up a scalable infrastructure. With deep AWS API compatibility, Eucalyptus taps into this diverse ecosystem to get the best of both public and cloud environments.

Over at Data Center Knowledge, Jason Verge similarly examined how AWS has stayed ahead of the pack. More specifically, it has acted swiftly on customer feedback, for example overhauling its data warehousing practices with Redshift and widening its appeal to companies of all sizes.

"When we started AWS eight years ago, we assumed that the benefits of on-demand computing were most useful to startup companies," said Matt Wood, general manager of data science at AWS, according to Data Center Knowledge. "But what we've seen over the last four years is the major benefit that comes from nimbleness. That is just as valuable to startups as to large organizations."

The Value of Continuous Integration

Continuous integration is hardly a new practice, but some businesses still balk at implementing it, thinking that it will be too drastic a change and costly, to boot.

Promet Source's Jay Uhlinger recently assessed the value of CI for Web CMS projects in particular, although his arguments are applicable to almost any shop that develops and tests software.

Uhlinger made some good points about CI's core benefits to any organization that still relies heavily on manual testing and has to deploy hotfixes late in the game. CI need not become overhead, and with economical cloud infrastructure from Eucalyptus it is even easier to enable.

Shadow IT is a Bigger Deal Than Most Realize

Shadow IT - the phenomenon of individuals or groups buying systems without IT's approval - is something that seemingly everyone has heard of, but few actually understand or appreciate. ReadWrite's Matt Asay dug deep into shadow IT's impact, noting that it has been increasing as businesses feel more pressure to accelerate time to market.

Asay estimated that shadow IT is 10 times larger than known cloud usage, meaning that a company that thought it was on the hook for roughly 100 systems could actually be running 1,000. The cloud is bigger than anyone thinks, and to stay on top of it CIOs will need to bring IT teams and developers much closer. DevOps and cost-effective solutions such as Eucalyptus will be critical to keeping shadow IT costs in check.

The Importance of User Experience and Ecosystem in the Cloud

Why do offerings such as AWS and Cloud Foundry continue to dominate their respective markets? They're able to attract cloud customers and then get them to stay through continual ecosystem improvements.

GigaOM's James Urquhart recently took a look at how these two companies became committed to cloud user experience. For example, AWS has solid programming interfaces, tons of freebies in its portfolio and thorough documentation..

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