November 21st, 2012
In the end, Joyent is offering a different kind of commodity than most of the IaaS cloud providers. Joyent is selling you a machine, just like they are, but Joyent's appliances are engineered to deliver Web pages and database storage as a service. Joyent has worked extensively on streamlining the connection between the incoming HTTP request and the bare metal. All that stands in between are Node and SmartOS, and both can be incredibly efficient in the right hands.
Joyent is essentially commodifying at a higher level: the HTTP processing level. If you're looking to process lots of basic requests, then you'll be attracted to a simple stack like the Node.js appliance. If you're looking on a cleanly engineered machine built on one of the more secure and well-engineered operating systems, you'll want to look at SmartOS. They're not the standard commodity tools, but that's not bad if you're looking for something more.