EC3: Enterprise Class Cloud Computing

August 22, 2008 - by g2-3bddff6939b593f6a7b21d3a53f8683e

Yesterday I talked with the head of Enterprise Architecture for a Fortune 500 company. Late last week, it was the VP of Operations for a Fortune 100 company. And, every day, I talk with many CTOs from Web 2.0 style start-ups. They are all interested in Cloud Computing.

What is new is the number of “traditional” companies that are starting to take a serious look at Joyent Cloud Computing .

The attention around Cloud Computing

Why are all these new types of companies reaching out to Joyent? I think some of it has to do with people hearing about how companies like LinkedIn have scaled applications up to a Billion page views a month on us. A lot of the interest also comes from articles like these:

3 Patterns of Enterprise Adoption of the Cloud

At Joyent, we are seeing three patterns for enterprise adoption of cloud computing.

  1. Approx. 65% of our large enterprise clients are Light Engineering Development Teams that jumped at the chance to quickly deploy new solutions on Joyent’s cloud. These L.E.D. teams are turning to Joyent for two reasons. First, they do not have to go through the process of getting approval to run an experimental application inside a legacy data center. Getting that approval from a large company IT organization is especially difficult when the legacy data center also runs things like the company’s general ledger and email system. Second, the L.E.D. teams often tell us that Joyent is significantly cheaper than the internal transfer costs they would be charged by their own IT departments.
  2. Approx. 20% of our large enterprise clients are brought to us by top tier outsourced development shops such as SolutionSet. Large enterprise users hire SolutionSet to build them everything from marketing / brochure sites to Facebook applications to core e-commerce sites. Depending on their clients’ needs, and especially in instances where their clients require flexibility, SolutionSet might end up recommending Joyent.
  3. Approx. 15% of our large enterprise clients come to us directly through the office of the CIO / CTO. The interesting thing here is that 1 year ago, this percentage was much smaller.

Now, it is growing, and it is growing quickly. CIOs and CTOs are turning to Joyent Cloud Computing because they realize that they have the same problem we do. They realize that they have multiple internal tenants who all require flexible malleable infrastructure.

Addressing the Issues that CIOs have with Cloud Computing

A lot of the discussion around enterprise adoption of cloud computing misses the real issues that we typically discuss with clients before they decide to use Joyent’s cloud.

  • Security questions are easily addressed Generally, while our clients ask about security issues, we typically find it easy to allay their fears. An enterprise-class cloud like Joyent does not force people into monolithic centralized storage solutions. No shared database means much less risk. Beyond that, Joyent takes a unique approach to virtualization. Fundamentally, we use the same Solaris kernel that banks, insurance companies and health care providers have used and trusted for years. Amazon’s EC2, for example, relies on a completely different “hypervisor” technology based on XEN. In Amazon’s approach, each time you bring up an EC2 instance, you get a new IP address. While you can map a static IP address back to the EC2 instance, you still fundamentally have a server behind the scenes that has a random new IP address. With Joyent’s approach, each time you bring your Joyent Accelerator back up, you get the same static IP address. From a security point of view, this means that Joyent can lock down access to these specific IP addresses via a Tagged VLAN that is defined and controlled in our Force 10 routers. That means that on Joyent, when our clients are concerned about security, we can set it up so that Client A can’t even see the IP addresses associated with Client B. Beyond this, Joyent can provide enterprise clients with all the other security features of Solaris. Because they get full root access, and because they know how to lock down their own systems, Joyent clients can be just as secure as if they were running their own data centers.
  • CIOs don’t want to have to re-write apps when they move to the cloud Google App Engine, for example requires that you completely rewrite large sections of your code before you can run on them. When CIOs talk to us about using Joyent’s cloud for a new or existing application, they always ask if they are going to have to rewrite any of their code. The answer is always “no problem”. If it is a JAVA, PHP, Python, Ruby, Ruby on Rails or Erlang application, it can run on Joyent straight out of the box. CIOs often tell us that they like knowing that they can leave Joyent if they want to. If you don’t have to re-write your app to move onto Joyent, you don’t have to re-write your app to move off. So one major advantage of our approach is that it reduces the risk of adopting a cloud solution.
  • CIOs are concerned about operational management overhead Whole companies, such as RightScale, have sprung up to try and help users deal with the complexity of running ethereal virtualized servers on Amazon’s EC2. For example, Amazon forces you through a range of complex steps when an instance needs to be rebooted. These steps include emapping IP addresses and drives back to failed AMIs, porting data back from S3. These “extra” operational hurdles simply do not exist at Joyent. Cloud computing promises flexibility, but it shouldn’t force enterprise users into an expensive tradeoff where they have to deal with additional operational costs simply to gain that flexibility.

Enterprise Class Cloud Computing has already begun

There definitely are issues around enterprise adoption of cloud computing. However, it is important to understand that not all cloud computing vendors are the same. When people concern about enterprise use of cloud computing, they often point to down time experienced by large monolithic systems like S3. While it is reasonable to express concern about large monolithic systems, not all clouds work like that.

Large enterprises are starting to adopt Joyent cloud computing. And so far, it looks like we have been able to achieve our goal of delivering a cloud that is addresses the needs and concerns of both small developers and large enterprise CIOs.

Going forward, we still expect a large percentage of our growth to come from small developers who hit it big. Hopefully these smaller teams will be happy to know that if and when their system becomes the next big thing, our growing experience with large enterprise users means that we will be ready to support them.