Open the Clouds With Portable Stacks

Currently, moving from one cloud to another is easy, and having multiple clouds to choose from gives customers the ability to utilize a range of features and service models to meet their varying needs. But proprietary next-generation databases, by locking customer code to specific clouds, remove the benefits of market choice, such as customized service experiences, competitive pricing and — most importantly — increased adoption.

To ensure continued advancement of the cloud, the industry needs to turns its support to an open cloud by using database technologies such as Cassandra and Drizzle Drizzle, which are portable to any public or private cloud.

Finding the New LAMP Stack for the Cloud

Many suggest that standards are the key to encouraging broader adoption of cloud computing. I disagree; I think the key is openness. What’s the difference? In the standards approach, a cloud would look and work just like any other. Open clouds, on the other hand, could come in many different flavors, but they would share one essential feature: all of the services they’d offer could run outside of them.

Such is the case with Drizzle, the fork of MySQL built for the big data needs of the cloud era, as well as the open-source Cassandra project, a next-generation database of the NoSQL variety and the engine powering the massive data needs of Twitter and Digg. These database technologies are the future of the webscale business — the next generation of the LAMP stack that helped drive down the cost of creating new startups in the first phase of the web.

The Million-user Problem

Five years ago, only Amazon, Google, Yahoo and a few others had to worry about millions of users and the data they create, which they dealt with by building a set of custom next-generation data technologies. Today, hundreds of companies are facing the problems associated with scaling their databases to a million or more users — and in another five years, thousands of companies will.

The first wave of web technologies that currently power most web applications (LAMP and .NET/Microsoft SQL stacks) are not adept at solving the million-user problem. Some companies have solved it with their own platforms — such as Google’s AppEngine, Amazon’s SimpleDB and Microsoft’s SQL Azure — but each is locked to its respective cloud.

The web needs an open set of tools to solve the million-user problem. Imagine a set of tools that could be run on any cloud. Drizzle and Cassandra are the leaders in this race to create the technical foundation of the million-user stack, and Twitter, Digg, Reddit and many others along with Rackspace are contributing to these tools in order to keep them advancing.

Open Not Free

The time is now to commit to an open cloud. Google and Amazon should make their data storage technologies open. That does not mean they must be free. Microsoft has hinted that its Azure technologies will eventually find their way into the core SQL products. This is good, as it will give the web another set of tools unconstrained by a particular cloud provider. As cloud providers and web companies continue to search for the next generation of technologies for building out webscale businesses, they, too, should support the efforts of Drizzle and Cassandra to help scale the web in order to meet its full potential.

Lew Moorman is the president of Rackspace’s cloud division and the company’s chief strategy officer

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