Mosso Joins the Cloud Computing Fray

28 Comments

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.

28 Comments

Bryan Kennedy

As a current Mosso customer (for the past two years), I can definitely say that Mosso is all hype with nothing behind it. Mosso’s network is extremely unreliable with recent outages spanning days (a bit like Rackspace’s, lately!). Their support has gone downhill, and their recent decision to keep monthly rates the same ($100) but tack on a new metric (hits) for overages has a good portion of their existing customers looking to move. I would leave too, but I have moved over too many domains to make it worth my time.

This would be a great opportunity for another hosting provider to come along with a better offering.

Mosso Reseller

If anyone is interested in sharing the cost of Mosso with me, I’d be willing to set you up with one (or a few if needed) of the client accounts for a good price. Just need a few people to help offset my costs. I’m thinking $10 for me, plus the set fees at Mosso (for example, $5 for 100mb of MS SQL, etc). I can be flexible with price depending on what you’re looking for. I’m willing to set you up with unlimited email boxes and databases, since they’re free anyway!

Please contact me at MossoReseller at gmail.com if you’re interested.

Philip Wilkinson

We spoke to Rackspace in the UK about it and they all clammed up – saying how it was a different business and they didn’t really have any info to share. Basically they wanted us to stay on Rackspace and not even consider Mosso at all… Hardly a “partnership”

silkyd

I would love to try out Mosso: The whole package looks great. But the thing is, there are so many downtime warnings about them, there’s not way I’ll jump in right now. Google Mosso, and you’ll find post after post about a MySQL server going down; PHP going down; Email services interrupted. I’m not going to pay for them to learn how to master this technology–think I’ll wait a bit until they get the kinks worked out.

Lew

Rick, I don’t know who you are, but you don’t know what you are talking about. Mosso has one investor. Rackspace. And, I can tell you our commitment is real.

In response to the pricing question, that is a longer one. The question of simplicity vs. accuracy is at the center of it when you get to metering unlimited systems. Our goal is to create great value at a fair price. Right now we have seen from our data that on average (a key concept) requests is a good proxy for CPU/RAM which is the part of the equation beyond bandwidth and disc. Is it perfect? Far from it but neither are the other systems that exist out there. We continue to talk to customers on the transition to this model and its evolution.

Scott from popularo

@Brian — Good point. We’re actually keeping a pair of servers with another provider that will be our test/qa environment, and can act as a hot standby setup for us that we can switch DNS to in the event of an extended outage with Mosso. And the bottom line is that if Mosso isn’t up to the challenge, they’ll lose our business.

Brian

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.

Rich Miller

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/

Darren

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.

Jonathan Coffman

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

Lew

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.

Scott from popularo

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.

Tony Lucas

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.

Lew

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.

Brian Breslin

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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