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Summary:

Amazon’s foray into on-demand web services such as its S3 storage and EC2 computing service has done two things: brought the focus onto cloud computing and at the same time up-ended the pricing structure of the Internet infrastructure. Of course, it has also prompted a spate […]

Amazon’s foray into on-demand web services such as its S3 storage and EC2 computing service has done two things: brought the focus onto cloud computing and at the same time up-ended the pricing structure of the Internet infrastructure. Of course, it has also prompted a spate of copycats and liberal interpretation of the term “cloud computing.”

Take Mosso, an on-demand hosting start-up backed by Rackspace of San Antonio, Texas, as an example. For $100 a month, Mosso is offering 50 GB disk-space and 500 GB bandwidth and 3 million web requests per month. Beyond that it is 25 cents per gigabyte for bandwidth and 3 pennies per 1000 requests.

Mosso Co-founders Todd Morey and Jonathan Bryce, both ex-Rackspace employees, are going after startups and web app developers with their new “hosting cloud.”

While Mosso seems to be an easy enough service to use, with a simpler pricing structure, it is hard for me to think of it as a “cloud computing” service like the way I think of Amazon Web Services. AWS, for example, charges for what you use. There is no upfront monthly fee, a business practice common to hosting services. Moreover AWS offers pieces of the infrastructure — computing, storage, etc. — on demand, not as a packaged solution.

From that perspective, Mosso is competitive with Joyent, a Marin, Calif.-based startup that recently started offering such scale-as-you-need-to services to Facebook application developers. That said, I think Mosso-type services are good for the hosting business, and also for startups and web app developers, since they provide a simpler pricing model along with the ability to scale.

  1. Well Mosso is really closer to what layeredtech is doing with theGridLayer.com and MediaTemple with their GridServer.

    Amazon’s upfront costs do exist, if you run a “machine” for a full month its $72 without any bandwidth allocated. And with no support. Mosso has live support via phone and chat, which is a major plus for people starting off. Their machines might not be as fast as Amazon’s though, so someone with more knowledge on this will have to do a further comparison of the grid computing services.

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  2. Hey Om, thanks for the coverage of Mosso. We at Rackspace are pretty excited about this group and the potential around it.

    One point. If you want to run a site at AWS, there actually is an entry. Any site will need at least one EC2 instance for the whole month. That is $72 plus any bandwidth you use. And, you increase capacity in $72 increments. These really are apple to oranges offers. One an unmanaged virtual machine instance the other a managed web application platform. Each has their pros and cons. But, to say you truly pay for what you use in a VPS type environment of EC2 is simply not true.

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  3. Lew,

    You are presuming that if an Amazon customer needs to scale they need to keep the instance running for the whole month, when the whole principle of cloud/utility/elastic (blah) computing is that you can switch it on and off when you need it.

    You cover this by charging extra for ‘hits’, they (and we) do it by charging extra for additional instances as and when you need them, which could be as little as 1 hour, $0.10, not $72.

    So in essence, you charge a minimum of $100 with a bunch of stuff included (and agreed, it’s a lot easier to host a website on Mosso than it is on Amazon), they charge $72, (funnily enough, so do we) and we all charge for extras from there on in as you use more.

    At the same time though, that’s if you want to run it flat out for a month, which isn’t solely the market that Amazon is aimed at by any means.

    You load balance/cluster at the application level (I presume) to balance the load, the managed platform we are bringing out on top of our utility platform balances at the OS and hardware level, allowing customers proper segregation. You guys might do that as well but it’s not clear, but it’s the right way to go IMHO.

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  4. Popularo is picking Mosso.

    We wrote the other day on our blog how we were building some of popularo using Amazon’s Web Services, and how we were concerned about it after the outage the other day.

    Well, after some internal discussion and research, it looks like we are going to use Mosso’s Cloud Computing Service when we launch.

    I like the fact that MySQL is clustered at Mosso, unlike MediaTemple (who we also like), and it’s REAL MySQL, not the wacky SimpleDB “not a database” thing that Amazon offers. Pricing is higher than AWS , but this really does seem like a case of you get what you pay for.

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  5. [...] Today, hosting provider Rackspace is offering a new cloud computing service through its subsidiary Mosso. The service competes with Amazon’s Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2), although it doesn’t require any load balancing or other administration. It also competes with Joyent and Media Temple’s Grid Service. For $100 a month, Mosso is offering 50 GB disk-space and 500 GB bandwidth and 3 million web requests per month. Beyond that it is 25 cents per gigabyte for bandwidth and 3 pennies per 1000 requests. This is a bit more expensive than Amazon (which charges in a different way) but a lot cheaper than the $350 to $400 a month Rackspace charges to host a dedicated server for a Website. Mosso co-founders Todd Morey and Jonathan Bryce, both ex-Rackspace employees are going after start-ups and web-app developers with their new “hosting cloud.” See more at TechCrunch and at Gigaom [...]

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  6. Fair point Tony. For spikes, yes, you can do it by the hour. But, most businesses organically grow over time, and then full time instances are indeed needed. At that point, the increments really are $72.

    While in the same field, AWS and Mosso are coming at it very differently. AWS is a computing/server platform. You can bring it up fast and effectively. Infinitely. That is hugely powerful. Mosso is an application platform. As you say, it is a lot easier to host a site on mosso. But, you can’t host any site (but most – standard LAMP, .Net, etc). You have to trade all this off.

    These are early days for all of this, but the user is getting some great new options.

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  7. The points above are all valid I think, Mosso has taken a big step forward in not charging the crazy ‘overage’ fees that MediaTemple, et al still have (I think (mt) is charging $2 and change per GB of bandwidth above their allotment?).

    Regardless, we all know that the hosting industry is slowly redefining itself and there is a big something to say about Mosso backed by Rackspace to go ahead and take the leap now. Innovation isn’t always easy, and Mosso doesn’t have all the answers yet, but no one does.

    For what it’s worth, I’m running a series on my personal blog on cloud computing all week, including today’s announcement of The Hosting Cloud. http://www.jonathancoffman.com/blog

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  8. I’ve used EC2 and and while it’s great for short term bursts and testing, it’s difficult to use for running a typical web application (although it can be done). The only competing service I found is Slicehost, which is actually cheaper when you factor in the other costs (bandwidth, storage). It’s like the best of traditional dedicated hosting with the benefits of virtualization.

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  9. Jonathan’s comment about the hosting industry redefining itself is right on point, and the evolution of Mosso is a good example of this. Right now it has a foot in both worlds – traditional hosting and the utility cloud – with a base monthly fee and metered pricing once minimums are exceeded. I think we’re going to see a lot of models and choices as the computing cloud
    gets segmented. Sun has a new utility offering in the pipeline as well:

    http://www.datacenterknowledge.com/

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  10. Scott from popularo: be careful about putting all of your eggs in one basket. This past week I’ve been tempted to throw my blackberry against a wall because it’s been buzzing with so many downtime notices from my site monitoring provider. I’ve had an account with Mosso for almost 2 years now, and honest to god, I get about 10-15 pings a week (minimum) that my site has gone down. I have yet to move a paying customer to their system.

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