For a long time, I am debunking the idea that the cloud infrastructure market will consolidate and we will end up with a handful of monopoly players. In my opinion this is short sighted idea and it is due to the lack of understanding of the diverse needs of users around the world. One way to counter such a consolidation is by supporting open federated clouds, an idea advocated by Tim O’ Reilly. Off late, we are seeing the idea of regional clouds gaining traction in the market. The adoption of regional clouds is driven by the fact that, in some cases, customers need more than just the cloud economics. They want to know where their data is located and where their compute power is coming from. They also want to have a direct interaction with their cloud provider, something that is not available with the giants like AWS or Google. In US, Minnesota based ReliaCloud is the poster child for the so called regional clouds. There are many such regional players, mostly from the traditional hosting world, who are repositioning themselves as cloud providers. One such player from Germany is ScaleUp Technologies. Recently, I had a chance to talk with their CTO, Christoph Streit, and Kevin Dykes, their Director of Business Development.
ScaleUp Technologies is based on the premise of Open Federated Cloud ecosystem. They are a spin off from the German webhost called Internet4you. They have built their cloud architecture on top of 3Tera’s Applogic product (see our coverage of CA’s acquisition of 3Tera). As it is the case with smaller cloud providers, they have two datacenters in Germany catering to their cloud business. However, the fact that their cloud is built on top of Applogic allows for federation and they have partnered with XSeed Co. Ltd., a Japan based cloud provider also built on top of 3tera’s Applogic platform. This partnership allows ScaleUp to let their customers tap into XSeed’s infrastructure (and vice versa) right from the their UI. This is a perfect example of an federated cloud ecosystem in action, albeit a smaller one.
ScaleUp’s cloud offerings comes in three different flavors
- Self Service Model: This is similar to Amazon Web Services and other cloud providers. However, ScaleUp’s offerings differ from AWS’ offerings in terms of certain additional features like availability of templates based on software stacks (for example, LAMP stack). These readymade templates makes it easy for the customers to get their infrastructure running quickly. Similar to AWS and other public cloud providers, load balancing and auto scaling are part of their cloud offerings
- Virtual Server Infrastructure: This is similar to Virtual datacenters with a collection of large number of servers like web servers, database, servers, etc.
- Private Cloud: Single-tenant cloud infrastructure for customers who want complete control over their perimeter
I asked them about the European cloud market and what kind of traction they are seeing in the market. Christoph told me that they are finding it difficult to convince customers to move their assets to cloud. He told me that they have to put considerable efforts to educate customers about the benefits of cloud computing. In his opinion, European market is lagging behind US market by at least a year on cloud adoption. I also asked him about their support for open standards and he told me that he checked OCCI initiatives sometime back but they are not ready enough for them to embrace just yet. He said they are not participating in any standards initiatives at present but it may change in the future. In my opinion, it is important for such small cloud providers to be part of the initiatives around open standards. I feel that these smaller players have to adopt open standards to fend off competition from bigger players and, also, for the very success of the open federated ecosystems.
The idea of regional federated clouds is slowly taking off. With more and more traditional web hosts repositioning their strategy towards clouds, we are going to see further increase in the number of regional cloud players using the federated model. More importantly, regional cloud providers like ScaleUp Technologies are crucial to raising the awareness about cloud computing in different parts of the world and in ensuring more widespread adoption.