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Appfog takes Amazon to task for cloud lock-in

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Lucas Carlson, CEO AppFog

Positioning his company as David to Amazon’s(s amzn) Goliath, Appfog CEO Lucas Carlson blasted Amazon Web Services for locking developers into a closed ecosystem.

“Amazon keeps innovating new services and on the one hand I applaud them for that. On the other, the higher up they go, the harder it is to move elsewhere,” Carlson said in an interview with me on Tuesday. “Amazon beats it into developers’ heads that servers are ephemeral but applications are not. Applications have to last.”

Developers, he said, need to be able to put their applications wherever it makes more sense and portability is a key condition of that. Appfog fields a PaaS based on VMware(s vmw) Cloud Foundry and is aligned with OpenStack, an infrastructure as a service stack backed by several tech vendors including Rackspace(s rax), HP(s hpq), IBM(s ibm) and Red Hat(s rhat). OpenStack is viewed as an open source competitor to AWS.

Lock-in charge rings familiar for Amazon

Cloud lock-in charges are hardly new for Amazon. To be fair, if AWS is a dead-end it’s a very big one: AWS is the world’s largest public cloud, by far. And it seems to grow by the day as Amazon adds those aforementioned new services at a prodigious rate, moving up the stack from bread-and-butter infrastructure to higher level database, workflow and other services. Most recently the company’s decision to launch an app market raised eyebrows. It’s a no brainer that the huge retailer would want to offer software applications, but then again, in doing so it competes directly with several third-party PaaSes that run on AWS.

The company’s boilerplate response to these complaints is that developers — or any AWS customer for that matter — are free to use any, all or none of its services.

But, given that Amazon launched an official partner program — much like those offered by traditional IT vendors like IBM(s ibm) and Microsoft(s msft). That may mean it’s taking some of this criticism to heart. The program seeks to reward its best partners with credits toward support and service as well as other perks.

The issue of Amazon’s ever-growing stack will doubtless come up at our Structure event in June where Rackspace President Lew Moorman plans to talk about OpenStack and Amazon’s place in the cloud ecosystem.

4 Responses to “Appfog takes Amazon to task for cloud lock-in”

  1. You can read my article on AWS lockin for the various services of Amazon here –

    Not all services are equal in this respect so I tried to classify them.

    My view is that with careful software design and the right tools (e.g. cloud management) the switching costs are greatly reduced.

    For the more advanced services like dynamoDB it can be argued that for some businesses lock-in is an acceptable price to pay for receiving an innovative and cost efficient service (e.g. when the alternative is a costly DIY) and letting you focus on your core business (e.g. designing a great app!)

  2. If I didn’t already have so much going on I’d be tempted to head to Structure in June but, I digress. If I were in Amazon’s position I’d do the same. What motivation has Openstack given Amazon to change AWS lock in? Amazon has the competitive advantage of time until then.

    I’m sure Amazon has a plan for when Openstack/Cloudstack picks up steam but why change before then?