Here’s the thing about Amazon’s cloud: It’s big, it scales, it’s service rich. Large customers like Netflix and smaller startups like BranchOut are satisfied with the infrastructure, and yet both companies would like to see another cloud or clouds emerge, just in case.
Netflix, for example, has created and open sourced a lot of tooling that fills gaps it found in Amazon Web Services, the latest example being Ice for measuring and monitor AWS usage and spending. “If you look at how much infrastructure we built, the extra glue and tooling we’ve invested in, that gives you an indication of what could be offered in a cloud in the future and we want to stimulate that ecosystem by open-sourcing our work,” Ariel Tseitlin, director of cloud solutions for Netflix.
Asgard, probably the most popular tool in Netflix’s arsenal, lets its engineers deploy code changes and manage resources across the Amazon cloud in a massive way. The discussion took place at GigaOM’s Structure event in San Francisco Thursday morning
For Netflix, technology infrastructure costs are a small piece of its overall budget, but for small startups working their way to profitability, AWS is a big piece of their nut.
BranchOut runs on AWS but is careful to stick to the most basic infrastructure components. “For us 95 percent of the functionality we use is in EC2 — we don’t tie into too many proprietary service like RDS or DynamoDB, we primarily put open-source software atop EC2,” said Jeremy Koerber, director of technical operations for the company.
The overriding reason is fear of lock-in, he said. “We’d like to be ale to move stuff if needed — maybe to Google Compute Engine — but thinks like RDS make that hard to do.”
Google Compute Engine was announced a year ago and was made more broadly available last month. Right out the gate, GCE was seen by many as the primary competitor to AWS, at least in terms of scale.
“We’re not too tied into Amazon, and it won’t be too hard to get out, but [right now] I don’t think it would behoove us to move. We’re waiting for GCE to mature a little bit and maybe prove themselves in teh marekt more,” Koerber said.
While Netflix relies heavily on AWS, it already uses Google’s cloud for archival storage.
For the record, Amazon always maintains that companies are free to use or not use whatever components of its stack they want. But it’s also true that many startups agree with BranchOut that it’s better to limit their use of higher-level services like Simple Workflow because their use makes it harder to move their application elsewhere.
Check out the rest of our Structure 2013 live coverage here, and a video embed of the session follows below:
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A transcription of the video follows on the next page