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

An open-source alternative to Amazon Web Services is needed. At least one visionary has a plan.
Written by Joe McKendrick, Contributing Writer on

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.

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