Shuttleworth: Amazon will win cloud battle

EC2 is the only strong contender to eventually emerge as the leading cloud platform because it has open-source implementations, according to the Canonical chief
Written by David Meyer, Contributor

Amazon's Elastic Compute Cloud, or a new platform closely modelled on it, will emerge as the leading cloud standard, Canonical chief Mark Shuttleworth has predicted.

Shuttleworth told delegates at a BT open-source event on Monday that to emerge as a leader among the alternatives now on offer, a cloud platform must have open-source implementations. He gave the example of the Eucalyptus implementation of EC2, which the Canonical-sponsored Ubuntu Linux distribution has adopted for private and public cloud use.

"The winner will be either explicitly Amazon EC2 or, if [other players] get into gear, an IETF standard closely modelled on EC2," he said, referring to the Internet Engineering Task Force standards-setting body. "Amazon combined a technological shift with an economic shift — they can price it by the hour or by the CPU cycle, et cetera — combining those makes it doubly likely to succeed."

Amazon's EC2 competes with cloud platforms from Salesforce.com (Force.com), Rackspace, Savvis, Sun and, later this year, Microsoft with its Azure platform.

Shuttleworth said it was "really important that there be interoperability between clouds", because that would allow for greater portability of workloads and create a dynamic market for cloud capacity, where facilities could compete based on the cost of electricity or cooling on a certain day.

"It is particularly valuable to be compatible with EC2, because many people will need to claw back their workloads that are running on EC2 to their internal infrastructure, and also to be able to architect for scalability," he said.

Current cloud interoperability initiatives are incompatible and have no open-source implementations, Shuttleworth noted.

There are several cloud interoperability initiatives that are underway. In April, the Distributed Management Task Force (DMTF) formed an Open Cloud Standards Incubator (OCSI) group. This group's board includes representatives from AMD, Cisco, Citrix, EMC, HP, IBM, Intel, Microsoft, Novell, Red Hat, Savvis, Sun and VMware.

The same companies — notably excepting Microsoft — signed up to an Open Cloud Manifesto in March.

Shuttleworth told ZDNet UK that Canonical would consider moving to a new interoperability standard "if another group emerged with more horsepower", but current initiatives were "fronts for particular vendors" that were leading to a rapidly fragmenting landscape of application programming interfaces.

Shuttleworth predicted that, if a strong open standard were to emerge from the current fray, Amazon might move to that standard. "They can only hang on as proprietary for so long in the face of a good open standard," he said.

Mark Shuttleworth

Mark Shuttleworth told delegates at a BT event that Amazon's EC2 will continue to dominate the cloud landscape

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