If Amazon is the 'Apple' of cloud, where is the 'Android'?

If Amazon is the 'Apple' of cloud, where is the 'Android'?

Summary: An open-source alternative to Amazon Web Services is needed. At least one visionary has a plan.


If Amazon is the 'Apple' of cloud, where is the 'Android'?

Lucas Carlson-CenturyLink-from LinkedIn
Lucas Carlson wants to create the Android of cloud. Photo from Carlson's LinkedIn site.

That's the question asked by Wired's Jordan Novet, who observes that Amazon Web Services has become the gargantuan commercial cloud provider of the market, akin to Apple's leadership in the smartphone and tablet space. In the smartphone space, a group of opposing vendors has rallied on the open-source side with Google's Android operating system, and Android-based devices are giving Apple a run for its money. Competition is always good.

He cites the work of Lucas Carlson, VP of cloud evangelism at CenturyLink and creator of AppFog, who is working on a platform called CTL-C, which employs a developer tool called Docker to move workloads as seamlessly as possible between systems.

OpenStack, an open source cloud platform, doesn't offer a direct alternative to Amazon because OpenStack is more limited in scope, as explained in Novet's Wired article:

"What OpenStack really does, Carlson says, is offer an open source version of vSphere, the proprietary server-virtualization technology sold by software company VMware. Virtualization is the basis for Amazon’s Web Services, he explains, but people want something more than that. They often pay to use Amazon’s cloud for services that run atop its virtual servers, including databases, other ways of storing information, and all sorts of developer tools."

OpenStack proponents may disagree that the platform is only about server virtualization. As virtualization expert Keith Townsend (@virtualizedgeek) pointed out in a tweet: "I don't think @Rackspace would agree with CTRL-C that OpenStack is a OpenSource option for vSphere."

CTL-C combines the attributes of Infrastructure as a Service (which is what OpenStack does) with that of Platform as a Service (which is what AppFog does), Carlson says in the interview.

Whether it's OpenStack, CloudFoundry, OpenStack or CloudStack on the open source side, or RackSpace, Microsoft, IBM, or AWS on the commercial side, competition is always good, and extremel healthy. Apple and the Android posse have been locked in a feature-by-feature battle, and prices for the devices have been kept very low. Feature and price battles in the cloud space will only benefit the end-user customers.

Topic: Cloud

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  • Amazon is the Android of Cloud.

    Plain and simple. The profit in Android is almost 0 (unless your name is Samsung). The profit in Amazon's AWS is also basically 0. Yes, I know Amazon records all AWS revenue as profit in the "logic" it is "excess capacity" but when you have to build out massive data centers to simply support the "excess capacity", it is not really "excess capacity is it?
  • Android and profit

    Android is part of Google's search and advertising strategy. Its too simplistic to measure profit from a product in terms of selling licenses these days. Android is part of an advertising ecosystem that is very profitable and more importantly very difficult to compete against. Android enables handset and tablet manufacturers to participate in a market that would otherwise be exclusive to Apple. These companies might not be as profitable as Apple but that isn't the option for them, it's to be in the game at all. If we look at the trends, Android has already won the smartphone battle and looks almost certain to do the same in tablets. PCs did not make that much profit for IBM even though it designed the originals but it enabled a lot of companies to participate and collectively they are much bigger than Apple or Google or Microsoft. In the end volume wins and some smart guys at Google who are in it for the long haul know the strategic importance of Android totally outweighs any worries about it costing them money. Marketing costs money and basically Android is a simple marketing vector.
    • Simplistic

      Did u consider things like Android without Google services may outsell and even destroy those with Google services.....or that other OSes such as Ubuntu, Firefox and Tizen may also kill off Android or that Samsung (like Amazon) are building out their own competing services with the aim to remove the OS relevancy and replace it with the middleware relevancy or that patent licenses such as Microsofts means that MS is making more money from Android than Google and Samsung....there are many many factors that u have not considered.
      • Considering Android

        I'm willing to bet you $100 that Ubuntu, Firefox or Tizen has not killed off Android by 2023. Yes there are many factors to consider and statements like zero profitability in Android are a red herring. Patent license revenue will expire. Its very difficult to know who is making the most money now but that is not as important as who will be making the most money in 10 years time and how that trend will keep moving.
        • 10 years

          10 years in IT is a lifetime. Android wasn't even around 10 years ago and Samsung was only a two bit handset OEM making handsets for other brands. Hard to say what the market will look like in 10 years but I doubt half the OEMs will be around and I doubt Samsung (now they are one of the big boys) will be sitting idly by while Google try's to cut their lunch and I doubt any of the OEMs in China selling to the Chinese market will suddenly start adopting Google's services.
          Will Android be around - certainly - but in what form and what will the profits be and who will be getting them?
        • 10 years

          10 years in IT is a lifetime. Android wasn't even around 10 years ago and Samsung was only a two bit handset OEM making handsets for other brands. Hard to say what the market will look like in 10 years but I doubt half the OEMs will be around and I doubt Samsung (now they are one of the big boys) will be sitting idly by while Google try's to cut their lunch and I doubt any of the OEMs in China selling to the Chinese market will suddenly start adopting Google's services.
          Will Android be around - certainly - but in what form and what will the profits be and who will be getting them?
          • Huh?

            "Android wasn't even around 10 years ago and Samsung was only a two bit handset OEM making handsets for other brands"

            I hope you're kidding with your comment about Samsung. They've been around since 1938 and are a HUGE conglomerate of companies that includes electronics. They do construction, shipbuilding, aircraft manufacturing, engineering, automobile manufacturing and a whole lot more. They were building desktop computers in the early 1980's. They are the second largest chip maker in the world (to Intel) and have been since the early 1990's. They are the largest memory chip maker in the world. No, I'm not particularly a fan of Samsung, but to say they were only making two-bit handsets 10 years ago is simply naive.
          • Handset business

            I was referring to their handset business which is a subsidiary of Samsung. Which over time has changed its name.
            Their main business (subsidiary that is) was making handsets for other brands. Now they are the biggest Android OEM.
        • "Its very difficult to know who is making the most money now"

          No it is not. Apple and Samsung (mostly Apple) are making all the money right now. Very simple.

          AWS is similar. Lots of low margin players with minimal, to lack of, profit.
    • Very simplistic, yes

      I always laugh when people compare everything with Apple. Come on. Even if Apple is still the only alive PC (as in, Personal Computer) company alive from the old crop -- they are just that -- one company. Apple does in no way "own" the smartphone -- except they have found a way to have loyal customers and this pisses of all wanna-be competitors.
      If you want to win the market, play your own game, not one against Apple (or anyone else).

      With regards to smartphones, Apple has understood, unlike everyone else in this business (especially Google and Microsoft), that the customer is ultimately in the hands of the carriers. They designed their offering in such a way as to balance between both and -- are successful. Good example of the opposite is Microsoft: their Windows Phone sold only because of Nokia and that company too, knew very well how to sell to both carriers and customers. But, Nokia is out of this business already.

      So no, Android might be just a marketing vector for Google, but it is a platform for everyone else. In order to do what Apple does, the other vendors have to invest heavily. Few are big enough, as is obvious by now (example: Samsung) and even Samsung does not respect the customer much (no upgrades). This essentially pisses off the customer and reduces loyalty.

      Android had strong momentum, for the promise of fast updates etc.. which for some weird reason did not materialize. There is no way it could work with the current model -- either Google controls them all and vendors are just box shifters, or the situation worsens with time. There are only so much people who will buy Android, because "I buy no Apple!". That is sad motive is not sustainable. With the current model, I don't see bright future for Android.

      It was never good idea to play this game to Apple's rules, as there is no way to win.
      • Apple will be irrelevant in about 2-3 years, since,

        it's basically a one-pony show, with iPHones and iPads, which are basically the same thing in small and bigger size.

        With Android, Google has demonstrated that people are mostly interested in good value, rather than hype. Most Android smartphones offer the same features and save value as any iPHone, so, people have decided and they've chosen to go with the better value, with equal or better performance than iPHones.

        Apple will become irrelevant, but not because of Android. iPHones and iPads will have been replaced in the number 2 spot by the Windows platforms for smartphones and tablets. That is already happening overseas, and it's only a matter of time before iPHones and iPads get relegated to 3rd or 4th place in the mobile markets.

        So, yeah, you might be somewhat right with the CURRENT state of things, but Android has proven to be what people want, and WP and Windows tablets are also becoming what people want. By this time next year, Apple will be pushing the panic button. ;)
        • Re: Apple will be irrelevant

          How old are you?

          I have been around when Apple was "irrelevant" many, many times in the past few decades.

          The Apple ][ is long gone, yet the Apple Personal Computer is still highly regarded. Who said Apple intends to live on the iPhone/iPad/etc products?

          By the way, I *am* "overseas" -- you have no clue.
          • danbi: I'm old enough to know better than you how the computer industry

            works and how successful companies can get complacent and become irrelevant.

            Apple is secure for the very short term, but it's nowhere close to a long-term security. For long-term security, a company in the computer industry needs to diversify, and Apple is very far from diversification. People like you are easily fooled by current success, and you're not capable of understanding how business and industry works. Ask RIM/BB and Palm and others who were big at one time, and now are gone or almost gone. Apple is hugely successful now, but iPHones are no longer dominant and when people start realizing that they no longer need to pay exorbitant prices for iPHones, and when they also realize that others have surpassed iPHones in quality and features and usefulness, and when they also realize that being fanatical about Apple is costing them dearly for no good reason, then Apple will become another RIM or another Palm or another Nokia (though Nokia never really stopped being relevant).

            People who become fanatic about a company or a product, have very limited capacities to think straight.

            No doubt, it's you that needs to grow up and start using whatever you have for a brain to start thinking straight.
  • "These companies might not be as profitable as Apple"...

    Only Samsung is posting a profit from Android handset sales. Google posted nearly a $300 million dollar loss on handsets last quarter. Sony broke even. Every other major public company posts losses. With the exception of Samsung (that is making tons), these companies would be doing BETTER to NOT be in the game and there is nothing to point to it getting better.

    Thinking "Android has already won the smartphone battle and looks almost certain to do the same in tablets" is a simplistic mindset that does not hold any water. In every lucrative market (like the US, UK, Japan...) the iPhone is doing exceedingly well and actually stealing away market share from Android. Thinking market share alone (when much of that market share is for "white box" $50 devices) defines "winning/losing" is near sighted and is a fools game. The same is true for tablets. Android is still mostly a no-show in USAGE data. What good is an eco-system of people that seldom use their devices? The answer is simple: none.

    So the question is, do you think Apple is short sighted, without "smart guys" and not capable of playing a long game? Given they started this game with the iPod putting all the pieces together and are simply dominating the mobile industry shows they have a very deep understanding of what's going on.
    • Apple short sighted?

      Do I think Apple is short-sighted? No, it has a company culture and business philosophy based on controlling a high margin vertical market. That is not at all easy to change even if they want to. The point about disruptive innovations is that new players come in with products that are good enough and enable more people into the market than would have been there if they hadn't come along. They don't have to do more than break even initially. (Not even that in the build phase) Smartphones got computers and internet access to a lot more people in a lot more flexible situations. But Android allows people in at the bottom and there are more of them. Also there is a route for progression up to top end Samsung phones that compete with Apple. But with many manufacturers there is a much bigger foundation. De facto standards are built on volume, not profitability. Windows happened to be very profitable because it's a monopoly locking to the entire applications base. PC hardware became a race to the bottom on price. Good for consumers, not so good for suppliers.
      • Clay's theories have been mis-applied on Apple.

        Clay did it when the iPhone first came out and you are doing it now. Disruption theory still requires profit even at the low end. If you read his book and study of disk drives, you would understand this. You are still looking at this as a "smartphone" model mostly.

        Personally, crappy cheap hardware was never good for the consumer.
  • Apple

    Apple is suffering from an out-dated vertical business model. Read up on disruptive innovation and work out who has the right model on that basis because that is probably who will be dominant in 10 years time. My bet is apple will be still there but in high margin smaller volume - like what happened to them with Windows and multi-vendors, it just might take a bit longer as the whole tech market has more inertia in it now,
    • Out dated business model

      Is that the same business model that MS is is cracking into, Google is trying to crack into and Samsung and others are failing to crack into.
      I am sure if market share was Apples only priority then they too could license out iOS and boost markets share. Luckily not all businesses follow the high volume low margin business model.
      • Business models

        No, Google's business market is selling advertising. Microsoft's core is selling software licenses and hardware and games with Xbox but they are trying to change and its not at all easy. Apple is vertically integrated hardware and software primarily. To sustain big margins you need a) a monopoly as MS has with Windows but it is being eroded rapidly from the bottom up. b) A new idea that is difficult to copy. Apple had a newish idea (At least they got the timing and marketing right) for smartphone and tablet. Snag is it is difficult to protect - hence all the patent wars and clone manufacturers. While MS shareholders are used to to V high margins on license sales, Google's are not. It is difficult to shift from high to lower margins without killing your own cash cows - eg MS can't give Windows away and use advertising or its margins will die. Google never had those margins to support in the first place so it can afford to give Android away and needed to to get it market traction. Since Google has the lion's share of advertising and advertising space gets more valuable the more end users you have it trumps selling commodities in competitive markets where the more that are sold the smaller the margin. Apple is traditionally high end high market. That can't survive in volume in an easily commoditised market which is what Smartphones and now tablets have become. Tablets came after phones so it will take a bit longer with them. Of course phones and tablets are just portable computers. The clever thing is how Apple and Google aided by Samsung have killed the notion that all computers require Windows. Now the volume is sufficient for confidence the biggest volume platform on mobile technologies can move up to the laptop space. ChromeOS tests the temperature. The market might sustain several OSs if cross platform porting is made easy eg using web standards. All want a monopoly hence early attempts with apps etc. to emulate the Windows model. That has failed. If one does dominate and move up into laptops to displace Windows its more likely to be Android because Android does to software what PC clone hardware did for desktops. It allows multi-vendor participation. (Even if it isn't very profitable and building PC hardware generally wasn't - it did not stop companies doing it) Collectively these multi-vendors are much bigger than Apple or MS. There are 3 distinct ages of digital technology in terms of the dominant business models driving consumer products.

        2010 to ,,,, Internet services (Advertising) - Google Dominated?
        1980 to 2010 Software licensing - Microsoft Dominated.
        up to 1980 Hardware sales - IBM Dominated.

        I see Apple as a blip in the whole scheme of the driving business models. It's really a fashion business :-) and fashions are fickle.
        • What a load of dribble

          Complex business strategies and business relationships dumbed down to one line per decade....yeah right.