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Are Amazon's Web Services Going Open Source?

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 5 years ago | from the great-place-to-make-open-source-work dept.

The Internet 42

ruphus13 writes "Amazon has been one of the early movers in the cloud computing space, with its AWS offerings, including S3 and EC2. Now, there is a lot of chatter around the imminent open sourcing of all its APIs and services and the impact that will have on the other 'clouds' out there — public or private. From the article, 'Amazon faces significant threats from open source cloud computing efforts if it pursues a purely proprietary path [...] Amazon can't ignore the cost advantages and diversity of product offerings that open source players are already offering in the cloud computing space. The company's best move is to open source its tools, which will end up diversifying them, play on a level field in terms of cost with the open source alternatives, and charge for services. Absent these moves, the company will lose potential customers to free, open source alternatives [...] Word is Amazon's legal team is currently 'investigating' open sourcing their various web services API's including EC2, S3, etc.', although these have not been confirmed by Amazon."

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The Cloud is Here! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28144521)

/. is blind to the future where the cloud covers the earth's internet. it will change everything yet /. cannot see it

Re:The Cloud is Here! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28147481)

the year of the cloud on the desktop

Re:The Cloud is Here! (1)

Fuzzums (250400) | more than 5 years ago | (#28148075)

They say you would need at least a duo core system to run it.

No (3, Insightful)

Serilleous (1400333) | more than 5 years ago | (#28144569)

With all the effort Amazon has put behind defending its products like Kindle from open source meddling, I would be shocked if they reversed their business strategy.

Re:No (4, Insightful)

Ohio Calvinist (895750) | more than 5 years ago | (#28144845)

The key is integration. They stand to make money if developers/companies use their web services in their custom applications/solutions. It makes it more possible to integrate Amazon services into existing systems, and makes them more difficut to "cut-out" of those systems later. For the Kindle (and iPod), the cost is subsidized by content sales, exactly how game console, cellular providers, and drug dealers work. The money is on the comeback in the form of content (music, books, games) or the service.

Disneyworld tickets are $99 so they don't really care what you bring into the park in the form of food. Movie tickets are $9, which doesn't cover their cost, so they need to make their money off refreshments which is why they prohibit food.

Their ideology is profitability. If openness leads to profitability in one enterprise they'll jump on it. If in another it doesn't, they'll resist it. Most businesses don't go closed/open on philosophy, they do so on profitability.

Re:No (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28145497)

Actually, movies theatres don't make a penny on the sale of tickets. That all goes to the producers. The reason the food in those places is so expensive is because that's pretty much the only way they can make any money.

Re:No (2, Funny)

Jurily (900488) | more than 5 years ago | (#28145673)

exactly how game console, cellular providers, and drug dealers work

You get a free set of spoons and needles, if you sign up for two years!

Re:No (1)

Chees0rz (1194661) | more than 5 years ago | (#28147701)

I usually sneak soda in the old fasioned way. I tuck it in between my belt and my stomach like a grade school erection.

The burgers and tacos just go in my pockets.

Re:No (2, Insightful)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 5 years ago | (#28145465)

Wait, what effort did they put into defending the Kindle? The hack to get root was basically nothing more than swapping out the root password. They even left the serial port on the back of the device. Putting your own OS on the device is also easy, and in fact a mechanism to do so is built into it. For a while I was even messing around with compiling xpdf for it, but never really got around to it. So what efforts exactly are you talking about?

Proprietary slows adoption.. (1)

msimm (580077) | more than 5 years ago | (#28145935)

closing the Kindle makes business sense in the same kind of way opening the service infrastructure might. I work for a company that might more seriously consider using their services if we knew we wouldn't loose our portability. Remember, cloud computing vendors tout themselves as a utility, this would be required before they could truly make that happen. And of course, this is my speculation on a rumor, grain meet salt.

Kindle Open Source files from Amazon.com (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28145993)

Kindle source code files: http://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html?ie=UTF8&nodeId=200203720&qid=1243644379&sr=1-1

Re:No (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28149845)

Agreed. They'll use open source to their advantage and close off anything else they don't agree with.

I buy stuff from Amazon all the time. I also have a Kindle DX on order, after returning a Kindle 2 due to issues and their TTS personality disorder. But I cannot see this as a good thing for open source in any way.

The simple question is if this adoption is good for open source. Amazon, shown with the Kindle, folds whenever some legal action is threatened against them, such as the Author's Guild with TTS on the Kindle 2. And the TTS screwup has shown that Amazon is willing to not only change content features after many of their devices were sold (bait and switch), but also change its terms of agreement, removing TTS support for previously purchased books. They also don't listen very well, such as Kindle 2 lacking native pdf support, with the upcoming DX having to-date questionable usable support of what many would consider must-have pdf features liking TOC.

If they haven't stood up for customers and users in the past of their most prominent devices, why would anyone think they would have the back of any other community they might generate?

If I were developing, I'd be very dubious about using Amazon stuff. Imagine Amazon opening up the APIs, then having some frivolous patent suit come up. Amazon would likely end up deciding to close the possible patent issue with a minimal fight, shutting down services. I could see this being done simply to minimize litigation against them, even if they were far downstream of the alleged infringement. I could see them release hoards of user information for an alleged copyright crackdown. Or after getting a bunch of people using their stuff using the open source tools and then parterning and switching to some MS tied solution.

Amazon's actions in the past have not been to back their customers. It's been to cover their asses.

Eucalyptus already exists (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28144597)

http://www.eucalyptus.com/open/

What's cloud computing? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28144611)

Can anybody explain it in three sentences or less? I didn't think electronics were supposed to get wet.

Re:What's cloud computing? (1)

CarpetShark (865376) | more than 5 years ago | (#28144965)

As I understand it, cloud computing is just "vague" deployment; kind of like roaming hosting, in the sense of roaming mobile phone connections. You don't care what computer you're running on, where it is, or even how powerful it is... you just write the software to a specific API, and the cloud computing services guarantee to meet that API, wherever they put your app. If you need more power, you just buy more resources, and your software scales using the fixed API. So you write your webapp (or supercomputing app, or search engine, or MMO server, or whatever), and the underlying OS/hosting/deployment/administration are handled for you.

Eucalyptus and EC2 (2, Interesting)

tcopeland (32225) | more than 5 years ago | (#28144681)

Folks may be familiar with the open source EC2 "clone" (or whatever) Eucalyptus [eucalyptus.com] . The latest version even has Elastic Block Storage support [eucalyptus.com] . Is anyone using it in anger?

Just because something is smart.... (1)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 5 years ago | (#28144697)

Doesn't mean that they'll do it.

Most of what I've been waiting for. (3, Interesting)

Thyrsus (13292) | more than 5 years ago | (#28144715)

Up to now, every "cloud" solution has been completely different, meaning that once you invest in getting one to work, you lose much of that investment if try moving to another. There are *lots* of important dimensions to compete on -- bandwidth cost, CPU cost, RAM cost, OS selection, security, privacy, reliability, reliability, and did I mention reliability? -- but until there is a common platform among vendors, it's all apples and oranges comparison.

Open source would change all that.

Suddenly, I can compare the cost of building it myself to the cost of having Amanzon do it. Due to scale, Amazon should win, but maybe I want to pay for less reliability for my development environment, or I want to pay for more reliability by duplicating that environment among several vendors, or I want to keep the super-sensitive data on my own data haven. Win, win, win.

Re:Most of what I've been waiting for. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28144891)

"Suddenly, I can compare the cost of building it myself to the cost of having Amanzon do it."

You can already do that. The cost of building it yourself just happens to be enormous. For that reason, I'm somewhat doubtful that Amazon would actually release the source to this stuff. If they were to, many users would just host it themselves and in no way contribute to the enormous cost Amazon incurred creating it.

Re:Most of what I've been waiting for. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28145765)

Open source cloud services exist, but they're missing an interoperable standard API and the sheer amount of server space. A cloud of peers (like Wuala, but between web servers) could be the solution to the second problem - give resources to the cloud, get cloudspace back.

Re:Most of what I've been waiting for. (1)

dkf (304284) | more than 5 years ago | (#28161813)

Open source cloud services exist, but they're missing an interoperable standard API and the sheer amount of server space.

I think you'll see an interoperable API being standardized over the next few years, especially for the lower-level parts of the Cloud; the higher-level parts have much less need because they're much more variable in specifics, but will benefit from lower-level standards. (It's a bit like with the internet specs; it's vastly more important that there are standards for TCP/IP than there are for instant messaging.) It's definitely an evolving situation; watch this space.

A cloud of peers (like Wuala, but between web servers) could be the solution to the second problem - give resources to the cloud, get cloudspace back.

Color me highly suspicious of that utopian vision, especially as most people with capacity they could theoretically donate will use it to reduce the amount of public Cloud that they use (they've got some very strong incentives to do this; if you have your own datacenter, you want to squeeze it until its pips squeak in order to maximize RoI). Because hosting servers with a reasonable level of quality-of-service incurs real costs, there has to be a way to have payments flow from customers to providers or it simply won't get very far. The genius of the likes of Amazon is that they've got that side of things sorted out; it allows them to operate a business model that's essentially about outsourcing running a datacenter.

The best part of this? It's not that it is perfect; it's that it is explicit up-front about the imperfections. You can take your own steps to counteract them to the extent that your budget will support. Some steps are technical (back your data up if you care about it, folks!) and some aren't, but the decisions are in your hands.

Re:Most of what I've been waiting for. (1)

turbidostato (878842) | more than 5 years ago | (#28148819)

"Suddenly, I can compare the cost"

And that's something the leader of any market niche never wants. Amazon seems to be the leader of this market niche, so the only reason they would do over the open path is if they really feel that the lessen parties can menace their position by grouping together around the same standard against them.

Re:Most of what I've been waiting for. (1)

MyDixieWrecked (548719) | more than 5 years ago | (#28149677)

Up to now, every "cloud" solution has been completely different, meaning that once you invest in getting one to work, you lose much of that investment if try moving to another. ... Open source would change all that.

I've actually been hearing about a couple of startups (I don't have their names handy) that are creating integration software for different virtualization and cloud computing platforms. The example they gave me was how we could tie our VMWare infrastructure (ESX and VMWare Server installs) to future growth using amazon's EC2 all from a single control application. Their software could even allow us to deploy our ESX images to EC2 and vice versa. It seemed really interesting although they don't yet have a working demo from what I understand. They're also planning on supporting Eucalyptus and other cloud-based virtualization services.

About the open source stuff... I think I must be missing something, but what exactly would be the point of open sourcing EC2? What would they opensource? Their client tools all use openly published APIs for communicating with AWS and their imaging tools seem pretty straight forward. I believe the way they work is published, too. What am I missing? What would the advantage be to opensource their backend tools that we never see anyway?

Is Microsoft's Software Going Open Source? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28144733)

rohypnol-lover writes "Microsoft has been one of the early movers in the operating system space, with its XP offerings, including SP2 and SP3. Now, there is a lot of chatter around the imminent open sourcing of all its APIs and services and the impact that will have on the other 'operating systems' out there -- public or private. From the article, 'Microsoft faces significant threats from open source operating systems if it pursues a purely proprietary path [...] Microsoft can't ignore the cost advantages and diversity of product offerings that open source players are already offering in the operating system space. The company's best move is to open source its OSes, which will end up diversifying them, play on a level field in terms of cost with the open source alternatives, and charge for services. Absent these moves, the company will lose potential customers to free, open source alternatives [...] Word is Microsoft's legal team is currently 'investigating' open sourcing their various OS API's including SP2, SP3, etc.', although these have not been confirmed by Microsoft."

I don't see why they wouldn't... (1)

iluvcapra (782887) | more than 5 years ago | (#28144753)

Their whole business model is based on leasing you the marginal computer power they have at their disposal, not at leasing you code or algorithms.

It's not like you can take the code for S3 and instantly offer a cut-rate S3 service, you need to have the throughput and backend storage they have, and processes they use to manage it efficiently. That's what they sell, and really open-sourcing the systems will only make their services more useful and ubiquitous, because people who want to build a simple hash-database or elastic storage or compute cloud for their org will be able to use these off-the-shelf. And then all of the sudden, AWS has another potential client to either 1) sell compute services to, when the organization outgrows its hardware, and 2) possibly buy cycles and storage from, when amazon deems it reasonable to ship other people piece-work to take the load off their infrastructure. They don't have the tech to do (2) yet in a completely secure way, but it's really not that crazy a possibility and it seems like the next logical step.

open source WHAT? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28144807)

Whenever I see one of these articles, I always think, exactly WHAT are they (thinking about) open sourcing? And what are the terms.

 

At level zero, it could be that Amazon merely intends to submit their API's and network protocols to a convenient standards body (ECMA would be an outstanding choice; the world loves their Active-X standard). Of course, this would be an instance of (at best) "open standards" rather than "open source", but journalists and bloggers can be lazy and often don't understand the difference.

 

Next level up, they could open source a smattering of tools and sample applications designed to help developers better understand and work with their APIs. Of course, this is nothing new - proprietary software vendors (including Microsoft) have done this for years, if not decades.

 

Finally, they could go the Oracle/Sun route (think MySQL and Java, the latter with its new garbage collector). Everything about the software looks like FOSS, and it seems that you could get a free ride if you're willing to get your hands dirty with the source code; but it turns out that if you want to do serious enterprise or commercial work, you need to pay the man for support and/or proprietary developer's licenses. Big time.

Not open source (5, Insightful)

royallthefourth (1564389) | more than 5 years ago | (#28144813)

An open API (whatever that is) is not the same as an open source program. If they were releasing the code that makes EC2 work, that would really be newsworthy. Of course, it'll never happen. Making their API accessible is just a way to get more people using their service.

Re:Not open source (1)

buchner.johannes (1139593) | more than 5 years ago | (#28144873)

Please mod parent up.

E.g. Just because you can use Googles Map or Chart Apis, you still don't have the real thing. It is an additional dependence.

In my opinion, the term "open-sourcing an API" should never be used, as it is not correct. It is more like releasing a specification and and maybe a free/open usage of the service.

Re:Not open source (1)

Creepy Crawler (680178) | more than 5 years ago | (#28145401)

Then perhaps you need to make yourself learned about Eucalyptus.

I would also learn about a little used language called Erlang and how it works. Something screams ultra-distributed network there. Im sure Haskell or Lisp could do similar, but updating programs while users are on it active, just seems so much more powerful.

Re:Not open source (2, Insightful)

Stuntmonkey (557875) | more than 5 years ago | (#28145821)

I agree, this article as written makes no sense. To "open source an API" is muddy thinking, a non-concept. At least in the US, there is well-established legal precedent [eetimes.com] allowing companies to duplicate APIs at a functional level. E.g., the function of APIs is not copyrightable in the way that source code is. So anybody that wants to can come along and implement their own versions of the EC2, S3, etc. API. They don't need any approval from Amazon.

Now Amazon may decide it's in their best interest if other cloud providers adopted their APIs. Presumably they would do this to encourage more companies to adopt cloud computing (i.e., eliminate lock-in as a risk). They could advance their APIs as standards in a number of ways, including making some of their own specific implementations open-source. Is this what the article is trying to say?

Cloud computing is (1)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 5 years ago | (#28144863)

GeoCities. No kidding.

If you commoditize your service to that extent, so will everyone else. You're not going to be able to charge any more than your expenses + SFA.

You'll notice IBM are selling software, services and servers to cloud vendors, not particularly trying to get in on the act themselves, despite having a fearsome service division. They're selling the spades and picks in the gold rush.

 

Re:Cloud computing is (1)

Shimmer (3036) | more than 5 years ago | (#28146013)

SFA = ?

Re:Cloud computing is (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28146839)

Sweet fuck all! (a.k.a. "nothing")

obama is a racist sympathizer (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28144897)

as long as it's not white skin it's all good.

This is nonsense. (1)

barfy (256323) | more than 5 years ago | (#28145083)

There is no group of people of any significant size that would pay to use Amazon services only if they were open source.

Indeed they could lose customers to other providers that provide the same software at up to zero cost. This also represents a security issue for Amazon Customers.

The advantage would be to gain free programmers for their services. This is not very useful, as in this case they are leveraging their massive investment in internet services for running their company. The more it is useful for others, the more it is useful for them.

I suspect that this is a hopeful rumor of those that feel threatened by the Amazon solutions, and that there is no likely case that they will open source their tools.

Re:This is nonsense. (1)

Taevin (850923) | more than 5 years ago | (#28145387)

This also represents a security issue for Amazon Customers.

Security through obscurity, eh? Well, whatever helps you sleep at night.

Open-sourcing an API? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28145343)

What would be the source code of an API? It's clearly not about the source code of the implementation. And aren't the APIs [amazon.com] already open? Being accessible is the whole point of an API, I thought. So say again, what are they considering doing? TFA and its source are quite unclear about that, but it seems to be only about some kind of official approval by Amazon that "yes, you can use our API which is already open, which of course you're already doing".

We're happy with Amazon, thank you. (1)

esconsult1 (203878) | more than 5 years ago | (#28145651)

While it would be nice to have more competition in the space, the fact is that we trust Amazon with our bits now. There are other players we could trust, but none with the sheer power of Amazon. Sure they go down once or twice a year, but hey, who among us can claim that nothing in our entire infrastructures never ever goes down? Why would the submitter think that any other current player can keep their service growing and have the same reasonable uptimes that Amazon does? Here in the real world, we don't mind paying for crap that works. That's what makes economies run.

Re:We're happy with Amazon, thank you. (1)

Shikaku (1129753) | more than 5 years ago | (#28145899)

s/Amazon/Google/g

"open sourcing APIs"??? (2)

jipn4 (1367823) | more than 5 years ago | (#28146029)

What the hell is that supposed to mean? The APIs are already available; other people implement them.

You can only "open source" source code.

good call (1)

Murdoch5 (1563847) | more than 5 years ago | (#28146183)

Amazons best bet will be to go Open Source, it's a proven method that will produce better results. Using a EC2 Cloud Open Sourced will truly be a great move, that is if they make it.

whistky (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28147527)

Sooo Ive ben playign thiss ga,e wahere i tke a shot of whisky ervy time i haer a buzzword onslashdot

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