Dave Winer's thoughts on the meaning of Amazon's infrastructure

Dave Winer: Amazon removes the database scaling wall.

I’m calling this “open infrastructure.” It’s totally shocking to me that Google and Microsoft are just letting Amazon take developers over this way. I would NEVER have predicted that a “retailer’s” infrastructure would be used by so many startups. Totally amazing. This is going to develop as one of the biggest disruptions of our time. Where is Ray Ozzie? Oh, Steve Gillmor seems to know what Ray is up to but it’s amazing to me that Ray is letting Amazon take over the infrastructure platform world and all sorts of developers with it. Watch what happens next year as Amazon moves this infrastructure into enterprises. Of course I’m sure that all the Enterprise Irregulars will say I’m smoking something illegal, but let’s meet up again in a year and see what happened.

Comments

  1. Robert, doesn’t this mean that Amazon is going to be able to mine even more people’s data???

    Why would I want Amazon to have control of my database and all the people who sign up for my site so that they can feed even more data to Facebook?

    Isn’t this just turning over the advertising revenue one could generate from one’s applications to Amazon??

    What am I missing here? I don’t understand why people think this is such a great deal. Seems to me it’s like giving Amazon the combination to your bank vault.

  2. Robert, doesn’t this mean that Amazon is going to be able to mine even more people’s data???

    Why would I want Amazon to have control of my database and all the people who sign up for my site so that they can feed even more data to Facebook?

    Isn’t this just turning over the advertising revenue one could generate from one’s applications to Amazon??

    What am I missing here? I don’t understand why people think this is such a great deal. Seems to me it’s like giving Amazon the combination to your bank vault.

  3. Dawnkey; you own the interface to the data, not Amazon. They’re not republishing it in anyway.

    Robert, take a look at this quote from Joel:
    “We’re getting thousands of people making FogBugz trials, so while I was in Malmö, Babak and Michael put $65,000 worth of new servers on my credit card to handle the demand.”

    From: http://www.joelonsoftware.com/items/2007/11/16.html

    I mean, wtf, who buys servers any more?

  4. Dawnkey; you own the interface to the data, not Amazon. They’re not republishing it in anyway.

    Robert, take a look at this quote from Joel:
    “We’re getting thousands of people making FogBugz trials, so while I was in Malmö, Babak and Michael put $65,000 worth of new servers on my credit card to handle the demand.”

    From: http://www.joelonsoftware.com/items/2007/11/16.html

    I mean, wtf, who buys servers any more?

  5. Unless I’ve missed something SimpleDB will probably run under the same rules as S3 as far as privacy is concerned. From the Amazon FAQ (For S3)…

    Q: What does Amazon do with my data in Amazon S3?

    Amazon will store your data and track its associated usage for billing purposes. Amazon will not otherwise access your data for any purpose outside of the Amazon S3 offering, except when required to do so by law. Please refer to the Amazon Web Services Licensing Agreement for details.

    If Amazon was gaining access to the data they were being given it would be all over for them and I think they (and everyone else) knows it.

    On the “Where is Ray Ozzie?” I’m not sure he needs to be in this just yet. Microsoft’s success certainly depends on how far Microsoft has thought on something like this but there’s no need to rush out an incomplete solution. As Microsoft has proven in the past it is rarely the first out of the gate who rules the market in the long run.

    The truth is, if Microsoft is smart they’ll hold off and release something like this with SQL Server functionality (Joins et al). If Microsoft could base a system like this off of SQL server (wiht export ability) they’d one up Amazon and sell more SQL Servers when the statups using their service grow into their own servers (for lack of a better term)

  6. Unless I’ve missed something SimpleDB will probably run under the same rules as S3 as far as privacy is concerned. From the Amazon FAQ (For S3)…

    Q: What does Amazon do with my data in Amazon S3?

    Amazon will store your data and track its associated usage for billing purposes. Amazon will not otherwise access your data for any purpose outside of the Amazon S3 offering, except when required to do so by law. Please refer to the Amazon Web Services Licensing Agreement for details.

    If Amazon was gaining access to the data they were being given it would be all over for them and I think they (and everyone else) knows it.

    On the “Where is Ray Ozzie?” I’m not sure he needs to be in this just yet. Microsoft’s success certainly depends on how far Microsoft has thought on something like this but there’s no need to rush out an incomplete solution. As Microsoft has proven in the past it is rarely the first out of the gate who rules the market in the long run.

    The truth is, if Microsoft is smart they’ll hold off and release something like this with SQL Server functionality (Joins et al). If Microsoft could base a system like this off of SQL server (wiht export ability) they’d one up Amazon and sell more SQL Servers when the statups using their service grow into their own servers (for lack of a better term)

  7. This could never work as a business model for Amazon or anyone else for that matter if safeguards were not in place protecting the data that is being hosted and maintained in the various AWS offerings. So just because my company sets up shop and might use the new structured query offerings, or S3 storage or the EC2 compute cloud, if I had one inkling that Amazon was going to be able to touch that data and worse, do something like “feed the date to Facebook” there is just no way.

    And there are other offerings in the marketplace, Robert. Sun has some pretty extensive offerings at their “Sun Utility Computing” or Grid: http://www.sun.com/service/sungrid/index.jsp

    And you can be assured that Google and MS are in this game as well. Both of those giants have the capabilities and the talent to offer this stuff, and my guess is they’ll do so as soon as they see there is a marketplace. Their challenge will be to grab marketshare from the already entrenched developers that set up shop at Amazon of Sun.

    But we’ve all seen that happen time and time again!

  8. This could never work as a business model for Amazon or anyone else for that matter if safeguards were not in place protecting the data that is being hosted and maintained in the various AWS offerings. So just because my company sets up shop and might use the new structured query offerings, or S3 storage or the EC2 compute cloud, if I had one inkling that Amazon was going to be able to touch that data and worse, do something like “feed the date to Facebook” there is just no way.

    And there are other offerings in the marketplace, Robert. Sun has some pretty extensive offerings at their “Sun Utility Computing” or Grid: http://www.sun.com/service/sungrid/index.jsp

    And you can be assured that Google and MS are in this game as well. Both of those giants have the capabilities and the talent to offer this stuff, and my guess is they’ll do so as soon as they see there is a marketplace. Their challenge will be to grab marketshare from the already entrenched developers that set up shop at Amazon of Sun.

    But we’ve all seen that happen time and time again!

  9. […] But one thing that has truly fascinated me in the past 24 hours is how many people are talking about how Amazon Web Services will be the backbone of many new web startups.  Dave Winer has a nice essay about Amazon removes the database scaling wall.  He specifically talks about SimpleDB, but the core concept applies to S3, EC2, etc – you pay for what you need, and you move on.  This is utility computing at its finest.  Robert Scoble calls it “open infrastructure“. […]

  10. Maybe “open infrastructure” doesn’t make sense for the neterprise market (yet?) but it does make sense for small businesses. And small is the new big right? ;)

  11. Maybe “open infrastructure” doesn’t make sense for the neterprise market (yet?) but it does make sense for small businesses. And small is the new big right? ;)

  12. I’m sorry but I think that silicon valley gets so caught up in their great ideas they are slightly out of touch with the real world. Startups are using it you say? If the startup market equaled a drop in the bucket of the business software market I would be surprised. So microsoft will continue to rake in billions per quarter on behind-the-firewall server software. The customers Microsoft is going after with SQL Server are the Fortune 500. Exxon, Chase, etc. not startups.

    There are still many many unanswered questions about SimpleDB. Scalability? Performance? These are tough problems for anyone running any DB system.

  13. I’m sorry but I think that silicon valley gets so caught up in their great ideas they are slightly out of touch with the real world. Startups are using it you say? If the startup market equaled a drop in the bucket of the business software market I would be surprised. So microsoft will continue to rake in billions per quarter on behind-the-firewall server software. The customers Microsoft is going after with SQL Server are the Fortune 500. Exxon, Chase, etc. not startups.

    There are still many many unanswered questions about SimpleDB. Scalability? Performance? These are tough problems for anyone running any DB system.

  14. I think Ray Ozzie would create a much better DB than SimpleDB. If you want to re-invent the database, that’s great, just come up with a better model. If your goal is simplification, don’t introduce a new terminology based on techie terms such as ‘domain’. And don’t completely sacrifice relational power.

    It’s true that Microsoft is missing out on the cloud computing revolution. This is incredibly important territory to cede to another company. My guess is that Microsoft doesn’t think of Amazon as a competitor, so it’s response has been muted. Big mistake. I know from first-hand experience that when Google was refining its search engine and winning praise as the best search technology, Microsoft still regarded AOL as the prime threat. This isn’t the first time in recent history Redmond has missed a seachange.

  15. I think Ray Ozzie would create a much better DB than SimpleDB. If you want to re-invent the database, that’s great, just come up with a better model. If your goal is simplification, don’t introduce a new terminology based on techie terms such as ‘domain’. And don’t completely sacrifice relational power.

    It’s true that Microsoft is missing out on the cloud computing revolution. This is incredibly important territory to cede to another company. My guess is that Microsoft doesn’t think of Amazon as a competitor, so it’s response has been muted. Big mistake. I know from first-hand experience that when Google was refining its search engine and winning praise as the best search technology, Microsoft still regarded AOL as the prime threat. This isn’t the first time in recent history Redmond has missed a seachange.

  16. Another quick point. If you look at Microsoft’s history, they aren’t these amazing innovators. Windows was in response to Macintosh, Word started as a response to WordPerfect. SQL Server was started in response to Oracle. They are a market driven company that has been very successful.

    Based on the sales figures of Oracle, and Microsoft. The “cloud computing revolution” hasn’t really arrived yet. People are still buying (a lot of) software to manage and administer on their own networks.

    When Amazon is making billions from its web services, expect Microsoft to enter the cloud computing market and dedicate 1000s of programmers to it.

  17. Another quick point. If you look at Microsoft’s history, they aren’t these amazing innovators. Windows was in response to Macintosh, Word started as a response to WordPerfect. SQL Server was started in response to Oracle. They are a market driven company that has been very successful.

    Based on the sales figures of Oracle, and Microsoft. The “cloud computing revolution” hasn’t really arrived yet. People are still buying (a lot of) software to manage and administer on their own networks.

    When Amazon is making billions from its web services, expect Microsoft to enter the cloud computing market and dedicate 1000s of programmers to it.

  18. I think the reason Amazon are so successful is quite simple, the services from the big technology companies are just aimed at completely the wrong people.

    Sun have SunGrid and IBM have Grid Computing but you look at both services, and you realise their not targetted at small developers but at people with large IT budgets and existing relationships with these companies.

    Sun have a Get Started page which tells you that you can get 200 hours of free computing, it tells you just how to get up and running. The key phrase is ‘Fill in the registration request, get approved, and your first three months are absolutely free’, right so all we need to do is get approved, what exactly are Sun going to approve? That my application idea is worthy, or that I pass the credit checks, or that it doesn’t compete with an existing Sun product? Don’t think IBM are any better though, they want you to buy and build your own grid from scratch, possibly the daftest idea in history, since the whole point of grid computing is surely to let people share resources and make access to computing power easily, not spend 6 months going through a proof of concept process with hundreds of thousands of dollars invested before you even know if it’s working.

    Compare both of these to Amazon Web Services, you visit their site, tell you what services are available (at the moment, a storage service, a database service, and a hosted per-hour computing service are the most interesting). The pricing is laid out clearly, and all you need to get started is a credit card. If you have an idea you want to try out that might need a lot of computing power, you can be up and running on Amazon EC2 in hours if not minutes, no ‘pre-approval to check you’re worthy’ and no ‘buy and build your own servers’, just exactly what you want when you need it.

    Sun and IBM could fix this of course, they’ve got an excellent system to clone in Amazon, and they have plenty of resources available to get it done. In the meantime, I wonder how many potential customers they’ll have to lose before they start giving developers what they want.

  19. I think the reason Amazon are so successful is quite simple, the services from the big technology companies are just aimed at completely the wrong people.

    Sun have SunGrid and IBM have Grid Computing but you look at both services, and you realise their not targetted at small developers but at people with large IT budgets and existing relationships with these companies.

    Sun have a Get Started page which tells you that you can get 200 hours of free computing, it tells you just how to get up and running. The key phrase is ‘Fill in the registration request, get approved, and your first three months are absolutely free’, right so all we need to do is get approved, what exactly are Sun going to approve? That my application idea is worthy, or that I pass the credit checks, or that it doesn’t compete with an existing Sun product? Don’t think IBM are any better though, they want you to buy and build your own grid from scratch, possibly the daftest idea in history, since the whole point of grid computing is surely to let people share resources and make access to computing power easily, not spend 6 months going through a proof of concept process with hundreds of thousands of dollars invested before you even know if it’s working.

    Compare both of these to Amazon Web Services, you visit their site, tell you what services are available (at the moment, a storage service, a database service, and a hosted per-hour computing service are the most interesting). The pricing is laid out clearly, and all you need to get started is a credit card. If you have an idea you want to try out that might need a lot of computing power, you can be up and running on Amazon EC2 in hours if not minutes, no ‘pre-approval to check you’re worthy’ and no ‘buy and build your own servers’, just exactly what you want when you need it.

    Sun and IBM could fix this of course, they’ve got an excellent system to clone in Amazon, and they have plenty of resources available to get it done. In the meantime, I wonder how many potential customers they’ll have to lose before they start giving developers what they want.

  20. Robert – It’s early in the game for everyone. While a bunch of firms you know have started using S3 and EC2, their total numbers is still very small. Other firms have lots of time to get into this space and compete well. You’re becomming way to binary these days proclaiming winners and loosers so quickly. It takes a long time to establish and maintain leadership positions. Nothing against Amazon, but don’t discount the opportunities and potential for yahoo, microsoft and, especially, google to compete here. Check out the cover story in BusinessWeek. It’s about google’s cloud computing initiative.

  21. Robert – It’s early in the game for everyone. While a bunch of firms you know have started using S3 and EC2, their total numbers is still very small. Other firms have lots of time to get into this space and compete well. You’re becomming way to binary these days proclaiming winners and loosers so quickly. It takes a long time to establish and maintain leadership positions. Nothing against Amazon, but don’t discount the opportunities and potential for yahoo, microsoft and, especially, google to compete here. Check out the cover story in BusinessWeek. It’s about google’s cloud computing initiative.

  22. What’s with all of you people who think goog and msft are not playing in this space? It’s like you think someone can just up and decide to have an offering in a matter of months. the reality is that amazon has probably been working on it for the better part of 2 years and has finally released something. trust me, both goog and msft have been investing in this for the same period and likely have offerings on the way.

    this is the absolute beginning — don’t mistake silence for inaction.

  23. What’s with all of you people who think goog and msft are not playing in this space? It’s like you think someone can just up and decide to have an offering in a matter of months. the reality is that amazon has probably been working on it for the better part of 2 years and has finally released something. trust me, both goog and msft have been investing in this for the same period and likely have offerings on the way.

    this is the absolute beginning — don’t mistake silence for inaction.

  24. but it’s amazing to me that Ray is letting Amazon take over the infrastructure platform world and all sorts of developers with it.

    You and Dave seem to have this Microsoft-asleep-at-the-wheel mind meld. I’ve mentioned Microsoft Astoria a couple of times, so I assume at this point you’re just trying to wind up the developers working with it by claiming it doesn’t exist. :-)

    Second, I’m not sure you can say Amazon is “taking” developers. It’s not as if Amazon has an IDE and a programming language.

    totally shocking?” “totally amazing?” “one of the biggest disruptions of our time?” Have you been drinking out of John Dvorak‘s sippy cup, or what? :-)

    Eventually, cloud database will be a cheap commodity, like wireless minutes, domain names, or pork bellies. The pricing will be cutthroat, and the barrier to switching providers low. Does Microsoft want to be in that space? Maybe.

    They might rather be selling SQL Server processor licenses ($xx,xxx) to the people building the cloud infrastructure… or selling Visual Studio ($x,xxx) and Expression Web ($xxx) to the developers coding against the cloud infrastructure….

  25. but it’s amazing to me that Ray is letting Amazon take over the infrastructure platform world and all sorts of developers with it.

    You and Dave seem to have this Microsoft-asleep-at-the-wheel mind meld. I’ve mentioned Microsoft Astoria a couple of times, so I assume at this point you’re just trying to wind up the developers working with it by claiming it doesn’t exist. :-)

    Second, I’m not sure you can say Amazon is “taking” developers. It’s not as if Amazon has an IDE and a programming language.

    totally shocking?” “totally amazing?” “one of the biggest disruptions of our time?” Have you been drinking out of John Dvorak‘s sippy cup, or what? :-)

    Eventually, cloud database will be a cheap commodity, like wireless minutes, domain names, or pork bellies. The pricing will be cutthroat, and the barrier to switching providers low. Does Microsoft want to be in that space? Maybe.

    They might rather be selling SQL Server processor licenses ($xx,xxx) to the people building the cloud infrastructure… or selling Visual Studio ($x,xxx) and Expression Web ($xxx) to the developers coding against the cloud infrastructure….