Posts Tagged CloudSigma

Amazon Web Services is not IaaS

Update: A more recent follow-up to this post – AWS leads in PaaS v.Next

It is commonly accepted, when using the IaaS/PaaS/SaaS taxonomy, that AWS is clearly IaaS. After all, if you can run whatever you like on your favourite flavour of OS, then surely AWS is simply offering infrastructure? The common knowledge doesn’t seem to come from AWS themselves (although they don’t overtly deny it) and I have tried to find a document available on their website that classifies them as such. If you can find a document by AWS referring to their services as IaaS, then please provide a link for us in the comments.

This assumption results in interesting behaviour by customers and the rest of the market. Patrick Baillie from CloudSigma is running a series of posts ominously titled Death of the Pure IaaS Cloud where he takes a swipe or two directly at AWS and, using Amazon in his examples, concludes;

So, what might seem like a pretty innocuous decision for a cloud vendor to offer some PaaS alongside its core offering can actually mean less choice and innovation for customers using that cloud vendor.

While it is true that AWSs could, virtually without warning, release a new services that undermines one of the customers’ business models, that is only ‘unfair’ if the business committed to the platform making the incorrect assumption that AWS is pure IaaS.

Maybe there was a lot of IaaS in AWSs distant past, but since it has become mainstream it hasn’t been IaaS. As a user of AWS, I don’t see the bulk of their services as infrastructure. I see them as some sort of platform, if you will.

Take S3 (Simple Storage Service) for example. I interact with it using a proprietary API (from AWS) rolled up in my framework of choice and I don’t simply receive storage. I receive a good model of handling security tokens, object accessible via the web (via my own domain name), logging, 11 nines of durability, automatic multithreaded chunking of large files and, with the click of a button, a CDN thrown in. That is so far from storage infrastructure (logical disk or SAN) that it cannot be called infrastructure. EC2 may be considered the most infrastructure-y part of AWS, but there is a whole lot bundled with EC2 such as load balancing and autoscaling which makes EC2 less ‘virtual machine infrastructure’ than you would think.

The fear of AWS as the gorilla that locks customers into it’s platform and, by virtually owning the definition of cloud computing, be able to have huge growth and market penetration must be of concern to it’s competitors. Perhaps, as Patrick points out, it’s market dominance and business practices may negatively affect innovation and influence consumer choice. This is something that we are used to in IT with market gorillas such as IBM, Microsoft, Oracle, Google, Apple and even Facebook. We, as IT consumers, have learned to deal with them (maybe not Facebook yet) and we will learn to deal with AWS.

Competing with AWS by attacking their IaaS credentials will fail, they are simply not an IaaS vendor. These aren’t the droids you’re looking for, move along.

Simon Munro



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