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Why am I talking about a competitor?

Here's a blog from +SoftLayer, a cloud-computing competitor of +Rackspace Hosting. So why am I excited by what a competitor is doing?

Because it is supporting Open Source and reducing developer lockin that we all have on you. See, the cloud computing world is moving to +OpenStack and that's good for all of you. It's not so good for cloud-computing vendors who like lockin.

What's lockin? Well, after you build your company on some cloud computing technology is it very easy to move your systems from one vendor to the next? Not if you don't bet on Open Source. Why? Because those APIs you use might not exist somewhere else.

So, isn't this bad for Rackspace or SoftLayer? Well, if you look at business through the eyes of lockin, yes. For me, I'd rather compete with SoftLayer and other cloud computing providers on something else: who provides the best service, performance, price, etc, not who has the best lockin.

Anyway, you'll hear a TON about OpenStack over the next month. It's great to be able to talk about a competitor who isn't trying to lock companies into proprietary APIs, thanks SoftLayer!
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16 comments
 
+Jack C Crawford I don't know, but my former boss, +Jim Fawcette used to say I could use any color in a logo as long as it was red. Red attracts the eye better than any other color -- all of our magazine logos were red.
 
Haha, technically i work for a competitor (Rimuhosting.com), but as far as I am concerned, good service deserves recognition no matter what :)
 
Red also indicates danger but I think people are smart enough to know you aren't telling them you have a dangerous product. Banks tend to use blues because it stands for security. I forget what the other colors meant.
 
I'm pretty happy a common open source platform is starting to emerge. Haven't looked too much into openstack but I imaging it scales down to one server. That way development can happen on a local server that will work exactly like it will once sent to whichever host. I think Ubuntu got really close with this since I think their cloud instances would transfer over seemlessly to at least amazon, unsure on others.
 
+Todd Eddy yes it does. And scales up very quickly. We have a demo we're gonna show off soon where tons of servers can be created from an iPad in just a few seconds.
 
+Kevin Thompson you nailed exactly why Open Source is so powerful. Can either Rackspace or Softlayer alone compete against, say, Google or Apple? No. But together we can, especially because now we have Dell, HP, Nasa and many many other organizations donating code to OpenStack. In Infrastructure Open Source actually DOES blow away proprietary approaches eventually. Linux is beating Microsoft in a whole raft of ways in infrastructure.
 
+Kevin Thompson who says you cannot build a closed-source cloud management on top of OpenStack and beat the crap out of the competition? A lot of great closed solutions are built with Open Source software and technologies.
 
Always good to see open source moving forward.
 
We're referring to but not mentioning Amazon AWS here, right? :)

Although it varies by service, most of these have RESTful-ish HTTP interfaces that aren't really that complicated. A dozen or two functions each. They're more like a BIOS than an OS worth of stuff. A competitor can emulate them, much like Compaq did to IBM. And/or a competent web app dev can make their own compatibility layer over two or more similar services from competing vendors; the "switching cost" is just not that high. And/or a company can do this, and offer services that are higher up the food chain than the infrastructure level, and maybe that's where customers increasingly want to live anyway.

As a pioneer Amazon made this stuff up as they went along, and sometimes it shows. With golden hindsight, you could design it cleaner. But I don't think messy is the same thing as competitive lock-in? Maybe what feels like lock-in, is more about there being a de facto obvious provider (for now), than about the API per se?
 
One thing I want from +OpenStack: a service provider directory. Does anyone know of an object-store provider that's geographically and jurisdictionally in the UK? So far I've only found memset. 
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