I’m sitting on the bus this morning. As happens almost every day of the week. I’m flipping pages, sort of, it’s an eBook on my Kindle App. I’m reading about Steve Jobs taking over the Macintosh Program at Apple. How things started to fall into place for Apple, for the Macintosh, and how Jobs saw what could be a pushed for it. Everybody else; Microsoft, Xerox, Canon, and practically every single other company was missing it. Xerox Parc had it right in front of them, the GUI, Mouse, Object Oriented Language, and about every single thing we assume for computer use and development today but wasn’t doing anything with it. They were all missing it, except Jobs. The eccentric, crazed, reality distortion field generating Jobs pushed forward and found those that agreed, this was absolutely the future. Today’s computers owe so much to Jobs efforts to pull these people together, to what he saw as the future, and our modern computing world will forever be indebted to Steve Jobs.
Howard Hues had done this 50 years earlier. He simply stated, “nobody wants to fly on a plane at 10k feet and get shaken to pieces, planes need to fly at 30,000 feet or more where the air is smooth!” He then went about working to get a plane built that could do this! The Government was in his way, the industry was fighting him, everybody said this wasn’t the way to go. Nobody could build a plane that would do that right now! It’s absurd. He did it, and bought every single one of them he could putting the airline (TWA) in hock at the same time! But it paid off, and his airline had the nicest planes, best flight in the world, easily. Today’s airlines are all modeled after this ideal, our modern travel owes a huge debt to what Howard Hughes pushed forward.
The competition, the fighting pushed the envelope, but in both cases a visionary could see the future. To them it was plain as an image on a clear sunny day. To them, the future didn’t need to be tomorrow, it was ready right now. The future just needed dragged kicking and screaming directly into today! They did this, they pulled people together who could make these changes, and they with their teams yanked the future right into humanity’s grasp.
Utility Computing / Cloud Computing
With those thoughts flying around at Warp 10 in my mind, everywhere, at every moment it seemed to occur to me. We’re merely putting the motherboards and cassette tape drives together right now in cloud computing. We have no Macintosh of cloud computing, we have no clear direction, there has to be something bigger, much bigger. At this point we’re merely making small steps, slight little strides toward the future. What we need to do is create the future and pull it directly into now!
There could be more though. Some of these things are being put together by individuals at various companies, oriented toward the platform level. There is, somewhere, a growing movement toward that next big shift in the way things are done. The gap between big architectures, big ideas, and launching these things is decreasing by the day – literally!
With these big ideas and big architectures and all the small steps and small pieces the industry is moving in the right direction. We’ve experienced shifts over the years and some more are definitely coming up very soon!
The Playing Field : Sitrep
With these thoughts racing around I felt compelled to look at where the industry stands right now. These are in no particular order, they all provide some type of building blocks for the next big thing, all in some aspect of the industry.
Amazon Web Services : This one should not need explaining. They’re probably the most utilized, nearly the most advanced, robust, price conscious utility storage, compute, and services provider in existence today. They continue to defeat the innovator’s dilemma over and over again, this company, and the departments in the company are hungry, very hungry and they fight the fight to stay in the lead.
Cloudability : This company is about keeping utility/cloud computing costs in check, and knowing where and when you’re pushing the pricing limits among all the various building blocks. There has been more than a few issues with billing, and people blowing through budgets by inadvertently leaving on their 1000 node EC2 instances and Cloudability helps devops keep these types of things under control stopping overages cold!
New Relic : The key to this offering is monitoring of everything, everywhere, all the time. New Relic offers absolutely beautiful charting and information displays around services, compute, storage, and a zillion other metrics among Ruby, PHP, Python, .NET, and about everything else available.
Puppet Labs : Imagine operations, IT, and systems administration all rolled into a single bad ass company’s product efforts. Imagine ways to automate and monitor ritualized machines, get them deployed, all with elegant and extremely powerful tools. Imagine that power now, you’ll know what Puppet Labs provides.
Opscode : The cloud needs management, hard core powerful management. Opscode and their respective chef product does just that. The influence of chef has gone so far as to influence Amazon Web Services (and others) to design their systems automation in a way as to enable chef usage. The devops community around Opscode is growing, the inroads to systems agility they’re making is getting to a point as to even be considered a disruptive market force!
Joyent : The birthplace of node.js, do I need to add more? Well, ok, I will. Joyent has a host of amazing devs, and amazing ops goals. The advances coming out of Joyent aren’t always associated back to the company (maybe they should be) but rest assured there is some heavy duty research and dev going on over there. Things to check out would be their SmartDataCenter and of course the JoyentCloud.
MongoHQ : Mongo HQ is one of the distributed cloud hosting provider for Mongo DB. Mongo HQ is also a supported provider in several of the other PaaS Providers such as Heroku and AppHarbor.
MongoLabs : Mongo Labs, another distributed cloud hosting provider for Mongo DB. Mongo Labs is also a supported provider in several of the other PaaS Providers such as Heroku and AppHarbor.
Nodester : Nodester is a hosting solution for node.js applications beautifully distributed in a horizontal way.
Nodejitsu : One of the leading node.js hosting providers and a very active participant in the community in and around New York.
AppFog : AppFog is a Platform as a Service (PaaS Provider) that is working on providing a cloud based horizontally distributed platform for creating applications with a wide variety of frameworks and languages. Some of those include .NET, Ruby on Rails, Java, and many others.
PhpFog : This is the PHP root of the PaaS Provider AppFog. They have a good history and an absolutely spectacular architecture for PHP Applications with a screaming simple and fast deployment model to cloud/utility based systems. They have a really great product.
Heroku : Deploy Ruby, Node.js, Clojure, Java, Python, and Scala. Probably the leader in PaaS based deployment right now. Got git, get Heroku, get push heroku master is about all the gettin’ for your application to be running there.
EngineYard : Think Ruby, Ruby on Rails, Rubinius, or any other aspect of Ruby and you’ll probably arrive at EngineYard in short order. The teams at EngineYard are heavily active in the cloud & Ruby scene. They are easily one of the leaders in PaaS based git workflow deployment in the Ruby & Ruby on Rails Community. They also, however, support tons of other technologies so don’t think they’re limited to just Ruby & Rails.
AppHarbor : The .NET Framework, often thought to be left completely out in the cold when it comes to serious cloud computing git based agile work flows, finally got included with AppHarbor! With the release of AppHarbor the trifecta of IaaS and a solid PaaS offering were finally available for the .NET stack.
Windows Azure : Windows Azure is Microsoft’s official cloud service, which supports a host of capabilities centered around a mostly PaaS based service. Windows Azure has however spread into SaaS and IaaS also. Some of the frameworks and tools they support include Ruby on Rails, Java, PHP, .NET (of course), node.js, Hadoop and others.
CloudFoundry : Cloud Foundry is an open source PaaS Solution that serves to link up various back end and front end architectures. Currently it is supported by a host of companies including VMWare, AppFog, and others.
Putting the Pieces Together
That’s where we stand in the industry today. We have all the pieces and they need fit together to create something great, something awesome, something truly remarkable. I fully intend to create part of the future, will I see you there? I’d hope so!