Joyent infrastructure cloud touches down in Europe

The Joyent cloud is an infrastructure-as-a-service technology that competes with Amazon Web Services, hoping to get an edge by offering higher availability and the possibility to run its cloud inside private datacentres
Written by Jack Clark, Contributor

Joyent has brought its cloud to Europe to meet demand from local companies, using a Dutch datacentre to cut latency on services previously provided by its US facilities.

The European expansion, launched on Thursday, comes after the San Francisco-based company closed a £54m round of funding to give it the resources to expand globally and take on cloud incumbent Amazon Web Services. Joyent also plans to open datacentres in Singapore and Tokyo to meet demand there, Steven Tuck, general manager of Joyent Cloud, told ZDNet UK.

"Our European public cloud will give European businesses customers the opportunity to deliver a higher-quality experience to their end users," Tuck said in a statement. "As they expand into Europe, [Joyent Cloud customers] want the same level of real-time computing performance as in the US to ensure that their European user base gets only the best."

The Joyent cloud will live in an Equinix-operated datacentre in Amsterdam, though this could make it difficult for German companies to use the service due to the country's stringent data protection laws, Tuck admitted.

Like Amazon Web Services, Joyent Cloud is an Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) cloud, but what sets it apart is its uptime, according to Tuck.

"It is a daunting challenge to compete with Amazon on the same playing field... our difference starts at absolute availability," he told ZDNet UK. "Joyent had 11 seconds of unplanned downtime this year," he added, before pointing to AWS's multiple multi-hour outages.

Unlike with AWS, customers of Joyent can build an infrastructure for their internal clouds equivalent to the Joyent cloud, and share data between the two. This is because the two key components of the Joyent cloud — the SmartDataCenter and SmartOS software — can be purchased by companies for private cloud use.

AWS has made inroads in this area, via technologies like the Storage Gateway beta and the Amazon Simple Workflow Service. However, these technologies are designed to link information within private datacentres to the Amazon public cloud, without ceding any technical control to the private datacentre operator.

Pricing for Joyent's rentable Linux and Windows computers is marginally higher than that for AWS, though Joyent gives customers 100TB of free data and 20TB of free data transfers per month.

Hopes to be a home to platforms

Joyent, like OnApp and the OpenStack coalition, hopes it can get telecommunications companies to build clouds based on its technology, then form an ad-hoc coalition that can beat Amazon at its own game: scale.

We're not going to launch a Joyent PaaS, [but] we're going to be an arms dealer to the PaaS community.
– Steven Tuck, Joyent

"We're not going to launch a Joyent PaaS, [but] we're going to be an arms dealer to the PaaS community," Tuck said, stressing that Joyent's uptime makes it attractive to platform-as-a-service companies.

Asked whether Heroku, a popular Ruby on Rails PaaS based on Amazon, was looking into transitioning to Joyent, he said: "There is not a single PaaS in that which is not talking to us about how, not if, but how it can deploy on Joyent."

The company has plans to upgrade the technology in its facilities to keep up with the demands of high-end customers. Like Amazon, Joyent customers are calling for more flash-based technologies, and the company is looking at letting them rent all-flash-based systems. Tuck said its customers are also asking for direct API access to its storage layer so they can serve objects off it.

"More than anything, our customers want us to have a more global reach," he said.

Nevertheless, he admitted that "we don't have as robust a user interface for people on-premise as in the cloud". Joyent is partnering with engineering services firm enStratus to alleviate this, he said.

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