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Amazon (AMZN), I have often pointed out, is a harbinger of technology trends that eventually gain mainstream acceptance. Contextual matching of information and community-powered feedback and ratings systems are two such examples.
Their recent foray into infraweb-services such as EC2 (processing on demand) and S3 (storage on demand) is helping to kick-start interest in “utility computing.” Entrepreneurs, in particular, are finding inspiration in the early success of Amazon Web Services (AWS).
Over the past month we saw the emergence of Nirvanix, a San Diego-based on-demand storage service provider that recently raised $12 million from Mission Ventures and Valhalla Partners, along with previous investors Windward Ventures. Rackspace is pushing its own version of a computing utility, Mosso.
Today, I got a chance to meet with executives from XCalibre Communications, a 10-year-old hosting provider based in Scotland that is going to launch its utility computing service at the Future of Web Apps conference in London.
I spoke with Philipp Huber, chief operating officer of the company, at length today, and he explained that XCalibre is going to focus on European web startups that are looking for affordable utility computing-type solutions. The company has built a management console on top of an infrastructure that is a blend of F5 load balancers, Dell servers, Virtual Iron f
rom Xensource (now a Citrix subsidiary) and NetApp storage. (A Virtual Iron spokesperson points out that Xcalibre is using Virtual Iron’s server virtualization and management platform. While this includes the Xen open source hypervisor, there is no connection between Virtual Iron and XenSource or Citrix.)
The company counts Huddle and Bamboo as its early clients, and the utility computing foray has been funded entirely by its hosting business. XCalibre claims that it can support many more clients per server than Amazon, and that gives them a significant advantage. My big concern for startups buying into services from other startups is the issue of longevity and reliability of the service.
Amazon, on the other hand, is likely to stick around and is going to keep investing resources in their web services efforts. Their recent marketing push, as reported by Liz earlier this summer, indicates that they are pretty serious about the web services business. Huber is not worried — he thinks that there’s room for a European-focused utility computing provider that can offers web startups affordable infrastructure that scales with their aspirations.
What do you think?