|By Paul Miller||
|April 23, 2012 03:00 AM EDT||
Amazon’s globe-encircling cloud infrastructure is compelling to many. From Virginia to California, from Ireland to Singapore, and from Japan to Brazil; wherever you find yourself there’s a local instance of the same familiar set of services. And, in all likelihood, Australia will soon be added to the list. For those primarily interested in just serving both Europe and the US, the list of options grows to include Rackspace, GoGrid, CloudSigma and a few others.
And yet, despite the buying power and increasing ubiquity of these larger players, there seems to be plenty of space left for smaller entrants. For prospective customers only concerned with a single country or region, for example, the choices are almost too many to count, and choosing between them becomes a complex and multi-faceted affair.
Take Brightbox, for example. As my family know all too well, those pesky timezones mean that many of my evenings are punctuated with calls to or from the States, where so much of the innovation in this sector continues to take root and grow. Either that, or I’m creeping out of a sleeping house to catch early trains for the 150 mile journey south to London. It was therefore refreshing to talk to someone in this industry whose offices are only 50 miles away in the UK city of Leeds.
Established back in 2005 as a Ruby shop capable of hosting apps on dedicated hardware, Brightbox has evolved to place increasing emphasis upon the provision of infrastructure. In 2010, the company began to seriously explore the possibility of offering a generic cloud infrastructure environment. This was in the days before OpenStack, but Eucalyptus existed and was attracting interest. But according to Brightbox co-founder Jeremy Jarvis, 2010′s Eucalyptus lacked some key resilience features (load balancing, multi-data centre capabilities, etc) that the team believed were critical… so they built their own system from the ground up. And, at the end of September last year, Brightbox Cloud entered general availability.
The Brightbox cloud operates out of two UK data centres, with planning underway for a third. Both data centres are now owned and operated by Telecity, which acquired the two independent data centre providers with whom Brightbox had launched. Brightbox owns the racks and (Dell) hardware, and also ensures provision of redundant network access into the data centres. Customers are predominantly drawn from across Europe, but Jarvis says he’s seeing some customers coming from as far away as Australia, New Zealand, and Brazil. The company sees its potential growth through eventual expansion to data centres on the European mainland, but Jarvis says he’s “much less interested in setting up yet another” North American operation. The company is profitable, employs ten staff, and is seeing steady growth in usage.
Brightbox does not (yet) offer a web management console, but Jarvis describes this as a conscious decision and also something of an asset. The company has instead focused their attention upon crafting a rich, capable and intuitive API (and associated command-line interface). According to Jarvis, the developers that the company tends to target have responded favourably to the API, describing it as “nice” and “more consistent” than the various APIs offered by Amazon’s growing suite of services.
A focus upon developers (and the growing Dev/Ops movement) was also a strategic decision, and Jarvis cites examples in which ‘mere developers’ have proved instrumental in securing significant contracts with Brightbox from their employers. Corporate purchasing processes may, finally, be evolving. Despite the success of Platform as a Service (PaaS) offerings such as Heroku and EngineYard, Jarvis also suggests that Brightbox is seeing growing evidence that developers are seeking more fine-grained control over infrastructure than PaaS typically offers. A platform abstracts the underlying complexity of infrastructure, making it easier for application builders to focus upon creating the specific services they wish to provide. But abstractions typically require compromises, with configuration decisions being made for everyone on the platform on the basis of ‘normal’ requirements. For developers with non-normal requirements (and they may actually be the majority of users), IaaS is more likely to offer the fine-grained control that they need.
But the cloud infrastructure world has come a long way since Brightbox began planning their product two years ago. OpenStack has arrived, and (despite a growing body of nay-sayers) is credible. Rackspace, HP, and others are on the cusp of delivering real clouds to real customers on the back of its codeline. Eucalyptus appears to have turned a corner, and pulled back from a brink that I (and others) saw them teetering on the edge of. Canonical’s marriage of Ubuntu to OpenStack is now just one of several ways to get the same cloud code, capabilities and apis onto machines running inside your own data centre. Amazon just keeps on doing what Amazon does, incrementally adding features, cutting prices, and becoming ever-harder to not choose.
In that world, surely a little cloud provider operating their own bespoke solution from the wrong end of the Leeds-London railway line, in a country on the wrong side of both the English Channel and the Atlantic Ocean has no hope? Surely they should just pack up shop, and either adopt OpenStack/Eucalyptus fast… or find a new line of work?
Jeremy Jarvis disagrees, vehemently. And he’s not alone. Look at Edinburgh’s Flexiant, Glasgow’s SymetriQ, and a whole host of other companies that have built their own solutions from nothing. Others, of course, have recognised the value in taking OpenStack, Eucalyptus, Microsoft’s Windows Azure, and similarly established technologies, and making them their own. Look at Eduserv’s Swindon data centre, or the hosted desktops from East Yorkshire’s own GoCloud.
So how can Brightbox (or Flexiant, or SymetriQ, or any of the other non-conformers) compete? How, indeed, can they survive? Jarvis suggests that “Buy British” continues to carry weight here. Even without raising the scary (and often, actually, wholly irrelevant) spectre of PATRIOT Act-powered snooping, a significant proportion of UK (or European) companies like the idea of buying services from UK (or European) suppliers. They like that the documentation is spelled correctly. They like that telephone support is (more or less) in their timezone. They like that the development team shows up at local events, and that it’s a person buying the drinks in the bar, rather than the disembodied marketing budget of some far-off corporation.
Purchasing decisions for something like cloud infrastructure are complicated. Often, they’re probably quite illogical. Price isn’t always the deciding factor (and even if it were, smaller providers like Brightbox aren’t ridiculously expensive in comparison to their larger competitors). Having been the friendly face at a local developer event might swing that big contract. Or having a “nice” API. Or implementing niche features in firewalls, or networking, or port forwarding might each grab the attention — and loyalty — of specific sectors of the long tail. Tesco might sell ‘everything’ to ‘everyone,’ but we still have room in our lives for the SPAR corner shop, and for the upscale deli with the nice cakes.
The same’s true in the cloud, although I can’t help feeling that we’re going to see quite a rapid decline in entirely new cloud infrastructures as the next generation of niche cloud boutiques take OpenStack or Eucalyptus and mould them to their requirements. They probably won’t be making those decisions because (like we Clouderati) they agonise endlessly about interoperability or portability or the de facto standard of the Amazon Web Services stack. For most of their SME customers, those things simply don’t matter. Instead, they’ll be adopting OpenStack or Eucalyptus because the grunt work (and the marketing) has been done. It simply costs less to take something off the shelf than to develop it yourself from scratch. But for companies like Brightbox, where that investment has already been made? Well, for them there may still be plenty of prospective customers out there.
- Eucalyptus grabs $30M from IVP to push the open-source private cloud forward (venturebeat.com)
- Announcing Brightbox Cloud – the UK’s first true IaaS platform! (brightbox.co.uk)
- Platform as a service ready to rev up, says Gartner (zdnet.com)
- Hosting providers aim to challenge cloud leaders (zdnet.com)
- Joyent Brings Its Public Cloud To Europe (techweekeurope.co.uk)
- Rackspace launches OpenStack-powered next-gen public cloud (venturebeat.com)
- Ubuntu Cloud Portal: Brightbox 12.04 daily images now available, discounts for testers and Ubuntu members (cloud.ubuntu.com)
- Ubuntu Linux heads to the clouds (zdnet.com)
SYS-CON Events announced today that Verizon has been named "Gold Sponsor" of SYS-CON's 15th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 4-6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Verizon Enterprise Solutions creates global connections that generate growth, drive business innovation and move society forward. With industry-specific solutions and a full range of global wholesale offerings provided over the company's secure mobility, cloud, strategic network...
Oct. 20, 2014 11:00 PM EDT Reads: 969
SimpleECM is the only platform to offer a powerful combination of enterprise content management (ECM) services, capture solutions, and third-party business services providing simplified integrations and workflow development for solution providers. SimpleECM is opening the market to businesses of all sizes by reinventing the delivery of ECM services. Our APIs make the development of ECM services simple with the use of familiar technologies for a frictionless integration directly into web applicat...
Oct. 20, 2014 10:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,504
Ixia develops amazing products so its customers can connect the world. Ixia helps its customers provide an always-on user experience through fast, secure delivery of dynamic connected technologies and services. Through actionable insights that accelerate and secure application and service delivery, Ixia's customers benefit from faster time to market, optimized application performance and higher-quality deployments.
Oct. 20, 2014 10:00 PM EDT Reads: 711
Blue Box has closed a $10 million Series B financing. The round was led by a strategic investor and included participation from prior investors including Voyager Capital and Founders Collective, as well as the Blue Box executive team. This round follows a $4.3 million Series A closed in December of 2012 and led by Voyager Capital. In May of this year, the company announced general availability of its private cloud as a service offering, Blue Box Cloud. Since that release, the company has dem...
Oct. 20, 2014 09:00 PM EDT Reads: 947
The only place to be June 9-11 is Cloud Expo & @ThingsExpo 2015 East at the Javits Center in New York City. Join us there as delegates from all over the world come to listen to and engage with speakers & sponsors from the leading Cloud Computing, IoT & Big Data companies. Cloud Expo & @ThingsExpo are the leading events covering the booming market of Cloud Computing, IoT & Big Data for the enterprise. Speakers from all over the world will be hand-picked for their ability to explore the economic...
Oct. 20, 2014 07:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,812
Cloudwick, the leading big data DevOps service and solution provider to the Fortune 1000, announced Big Loop, its multi-vendor operations platform. Cloudwick Big Loop creates greater collaboration between Fortune 1000 IT staff, developers and their database management systems as well as big data vendors. This allows customers to comprehensively manage and oversee their entire infrastructure, which leads to more successful production cluster operations, and scale-out. Cloudwick Big Loop supports ...
Oct. 20, 2014 05:45 PM EDT Reads: 1,615
To manage complex web services with lots of calls to the cloud, many businesses have invested in Application Performance Management (APM) and Network Performance Management (NPM) tools. Together APM and NPM tools are essential aids in improving a business’s infrastructure required to support an effective web experience… but they are missing a critical component – Internet visibility. Internet connectivity has always played a role in customer access to web presence, but in the past few years use...
Oct. 20, 2014 05:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,616
SAP is delivering break-through innovation combined with fantastic user experience powered by the market-leading in-memory technology, SAP HANA. In his General Session at 15th Cloud Expo, Thorsten Leiduck, VP ISVs & Digital Commerce, SAP, will discuss how SAP and partners provide cloud and hybrid cloud solutions as well as real-time Big Data offerings that help companies of all sizes and industries run better. SAP launched an application challenge to award the most innovative SAP HANA and SAP ...
Oct. 20, 2014 05:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,770
Software AG helps organizations transform into Digital Enterprises, so they can differentiate from competitors and better engage customers, partners and employees. Using the Software AG Suite, companies can close the gap between business and IT to create digital systems of differentiation that drive front-line agility. We offer four on-ramps to the Digital Enterprise: alignment through collaborative process analysis; transformation through portfolio management; agility through process automation...
Oct. 20, 2014 03:45 PM EDT Reads: 1,542
What are the benefits of using an enterprise-grade orchestration platform? In their session at 15th Cloud Expo, Jeff Tegethoff, CEO of Appcore, and Kedar Poduri, Senior Director of Product Management at Citrix Systems, will take a closer look at the architectural design factors needed to support diverse workloads and how to run these workloads efficiently as a service provider. They will also discuss how to deploy private cloud environments in 15 minutes or less.
Oct. 20, 2014 03:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,624
Headquartered in Santa Monica, California, Bitium was founded by Kriz and Erik Gustavson. The 1,500 cloud-based application using Bitium’s analytics, app management, and single sign-on services include bug trackers, customer service dashboards, Google Apps, and social networks. The firm states website administrators can do multiple tasks online without revealing passwords. Bitium’s advisors include Microsoft’s former CMO and the former senior vice president of strategy, the founder and CEO of Li...
Oct. 20, 2014 03:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,725
The Transparent Cloud-computing Consortium (abbreviation: T-Cloud Consortium) will conduct research activities into changes in the computing model as a result of collaboration between "device" and "cloud" and the creation of new value and markets through organic data processing High speed and high quality networks, and dramatic improvements in computer processing capabilities, have greatly changed the nature of applications and made the storing and processing of data on the network commonplace. ...
Oct. 20, 2014 02:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,527
StackIQ offers a comprehensive software suite that automates the deployment, provisioning, and management of Big Infrastructure. With StackIQ’s software, you can spin up fully configured big data clusters, quickly and consistently — from bare-metal up to the applications layer — and manage them efficiently. Our software’s modular architecture allows customers to integrate nearly any application with the StackIQ software stack.
Oct. 20, 2014 01:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,413
The Internet of Things (IoT) is going to require a new way of thinking and of developing software for speed, security and innovation. This requires IT leaders to balance business as usual while anticipating for the next market and technology trends. Cloud provides the right IT asset portfolio to help today’s IT leaders manage the old and prepare for the new. Today the cloud conversation is evolving from private and public to hybrid. This session will provide use cases and insights to reinforce t...
Oct. 20, 2014 12:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,805
Things are being built upon cloud foundations to transform organizations. This CEO Power Panel at 15th Cloud Expo, moderated by Roger Strukhoff, Cloud Expo and @ThingsExpo conference chair, will address the big issues involving these technologies and, more important, the results they will achieve. How important are public, private, and hybrid cloud to the enterprise? How does one define Big Data? And how is the IoT tying all this together?
Oct. 20, 2014 12:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,558
TechCrunch reported that "Berlin-based relayr, maker of the WunderBar, an Internet of Things (IoT) hardware dev kit which resembles a chunky chocolate bar, has closed a $2.3 million seed round, from unnamed U.S. and Switzerland-based investors. The startup had previously raised a €250,000 friend and family round, and had been on track to close a €500,000 seed earlier this year — but received a higher funding offer from a different set of investors, which is the $2.3M round it’s reporting."...
Oct. 20, 2014 09:00 AM EDT Reads: 1,490
The 3rd International Internet of @ThingsExpo, co-located with the 16th International Cloud Expo - to be held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY - announces that its Call for Papers is now open. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the biggest idea since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago.
Oct. 19, 2014 10:45 PM EDT Reads: 1,914
The Industrial Internet revolution is now underway, enabled by connected machines and billions of devices that communicate and collaborate. The massive amounts of Big Data requiring real-time analysis is flooding legacy IT systems and giving way to cloud environments that can handle the unpredictable workloads. Yet many barriers remain until we can fully realize the opportunities and benefits from the convergence of machines and devices with Big Data and the cloud, including interoperability, da...
Oct. 19, 2014 10:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,452
All major researchers estimate there will be tens of billions devices - computers, smartphones, tablets, and sensors - connected to the Internet by 2020. This number will continue to grow at a rapid pace for the next several decades. Over the summer Gartner released its much anticipated annual Hype Cycle report and the big news is that Internet of Things has now replaced Big Data as the most hyped technology. Indeed, we're hearing more and more about this fascinating new technological paradigm. ...
Oct. 19, 2014 09:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,693
In his session at 15th Cloud Expo, Mark Hinkle, Senior Director, Open Source Solutions at Citrix Systems Inc., will provide overview of the open source software that can be used to deploy and manage a cloud computing environment. He will include information on storage, networking(e.g., OpenDaylight) and compute virtualization (Xen, KVM, LXC) and the orchestration(Apache CloudStack, OpenStack) of the three to build their own cloud services.
Oct. 19, 2014 11:15 AM EDT Reads: 1,891