Cloud

The Amazon Web Services API debate shows no sign of cooling

Above: Randy Bias (left) believes OpenStack is wise to adopt the Amazon Web Services APIs. Eucalyptus CEO Mårten Mickos challenged him.

Image Credit: Michael O'Donnell/VentureBeat

While few, if any, cloud watchers would challenge the notion that Amazon Web Services is the leader in the infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) public-cloud market, the open-source OpenStack committee has been debating the question of whether to support the application programming interfaces, or APIs, that can control cloud resources for Amazon Web Services.

Randy Bias, the cofounder and chief executive of Cloudscaling and a vocal advocate of the idea, argued that Amazon Web Services’ architecture represents the “dominant paradigm” of cloud computing, rather than a mere system for spinning up virtual machines. To further clarify the argument, he said Google Compute Engine, the IaaS product Google has been opening up in recent months, is 90 percent to 95 percent “architecturally and semantically equivalent to Amazon Web Services.”

While the Google IaaS is still new in comparison with Amazon Web Services and major OpenStack backer Rackspace, it’s already “coming up on Rackspace’s heels right now,” he said. If OpenStack were to set aside the Amazon Web Services APIs, it would effectively be shunning the model at the root of Google’s and Amazon’s popular and growing public clouds and hamper efforts to make OpenStack a valuable tool in implementing hybrid clouds.

Bias also defended the proposal onstage at the CloudBeat 2013 conference today and responded to calls from a competitor to further build out his product.

CEO Mårten Mickos of Eucalyptus, which enables companies run Amazon Web Services-like features in their own on-premise data centers, asked Bias why he his company has not enabled customers to run tools Netflix has made available in open source to manage clouds, such as Asgard and Chaos Monkey.

That would take “resources and time,” Bias said. “I didn’t raise as much money” as Eucalyptus, he said. “You started early. Now you’re having trouble digging out.”

The panel’s moderator, Cloud of Data analyst Paul Miller, asked Eucalyptus customer Ben Carpenter if he thought OpenStack should support about the APIs.

“I think it would be great if everyone could standardize the APIs immediately,” he said. “You could switch [and] pick the best one based on its merits, rather than its API.”

Miller checked the sentiment with the CloudBeat crowd, asking for a show of hands about support for AWS APIs. Scores of people said yes; one said no.

Bias said OpenStack community has already adopted the AWS APIs, adding that adoption wasn’t the issue. “It’s about whether the community as a whole is going to ignore squeaky wheels like Rackspace,” he said.

The conversation about AWS API support could well have gone on longer than the session’s time permitted. And because cloud computing is still ramping up, talks of compatibility with the biggest of the public clouds will surely continue for months to come, leaving Bias plenty of opportunities to explain his position and grab attention for his company.

The interesting question is which hybrid cloud model will prevail a few years from now.

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