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Cloud Computing: Article

Is Aptana Really a Cloud?

The line between what is considered a cloud and what is paramount to hosting is a blurry line at the best of times

 Alan Williamson's Blog

The line between what is considered a cloud and what is paramount to hosting is a blurry line at the best of times. What qualifies a companies offering as a cloud based product offering? That is a question that is continually debated in the cloud circles and no one has really yet to offer a real concrete reason.

Setting aside all the marketing buzzwords that will get thrown in "scalability" / "on-demand" / "deploy", a cloud offering has to deliver on its hype.

For me when words like those are thrown around I want to see:

  • Scalability
    The ability to start up a new instance programmatically via an API, allowing me to hook into whatever trigger metrics I may have. So if traffic reaches a new level, throw more resources/machines at it without doing anything further except start it up. Also ability to turn off resources to scale-down.
  • On-Demand
    When I do start-up a new instance, I want it to be fast. Do not make me wait an hour, or make me have to provision it before I can use it. If I can't introduce a new instance into the system in under 5minutes then its not "on-demand"
  • Deploy
    Tools that make it real easy for me to deploy my software/services in real-time. I should never have to resort to an SSH shell to make my software work.

If an offering does not meet those criteria then for me, I do not believe they are truly offering a cloud experience. They are merely repackaging a hosting package. Running your machines on a virtual platform does not a cloud offering make. Just because a company is charging per-hour instead of per-month, don't be fooled. Look further.

Aptana is a company that is renowned for providing an IDE for building web applications, based on the Eclipse toolkit. They have started to pop-up on the cloud radar, that initially confused me, as I tried to fathom out just how they were making this claim. Though their Jaxer product allows you to run your Javascript server-side I wasn't sure how they were making the leap to clouds.

Looks like Aptana is moving into the hosted environment, which is a logical step for them considering their big play in the server-side market. What doesn't make sense though is claiming they are now suddenly a cloud offering.

They fail to deliver on my 3 step criteria, with the only scaling they seem to offer is within the machine itself (more RAM/HD as and when). No details on how long a machine takes to setup or run, or what happens when you need to grow outside of one machine. No load balancing or image provisioning details. No details on what happens when you need more disk space. No details on any API that can be used to create new machines as and when.

Don't get me wrong, but this is a great offering from Aptana and compliments their product suite perfectly. But it is far from a true cloud offering. If they had made more of a play like Google's App Engine, abstracting all the logistics away then yes, we could then put them into the world of cloud computing, but as it stands they seem to offer simply a hosting model for their studio.

Demand more from the companies that claim to offer cloud computing. Ask them precisely what makes them different from a traditional hosting company, and if they can't achieve the 3 points I highlighted, then just look at them as you would with a traditional one-server-one-client hosting company.

Remember, only one week to go until the free cloud boot camp in San Jose. We've got a lot of material to shoot through, so be sure to come along and get your head truly immersed into what some of the big cloud operators can do for you today.

More Stories By Alan Williamson

Alan Williamson is widely recognized as an early expert on Cloud Computing, he is Co-Founder of aw2.0 Ltd, a software company specializing in deploying software solutions within Cloud networks. Alan is a Sun Java Champion and creator of OpenBlueDragon (an open source Java CFML runtime engine). With many books, articles and speaking engagements under his belt, Alan likes to talk passionately about what can be done TODAY and not get caught up in the marketing hype of TOMORROW. Follow his blog, http://alan.blog-city.com/ or e-mail him at cloud(at)alanwilliamson.org.

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