Appistry Does Cloud Transition Right; Mosso Gets Political

By Derrick Harris

October 27, 2008

If people are concerned about the know-how or third-party interface required to scale or perform parallel processing in the cloud, things just got easier with Appistry’s announcement that its Enterprise Applications Fabric (EAF) will now be available on two public cloud offerings — GoGrid and SkyTap.

(Speaking of GoGrid, have you seen NoHardware.com? It features possibly the geekiest B-movie shorts ever, and definitely the only ones combining cloud computing and assault rifles. And CEO John Keagy’s performance as Dr. GoGrid gave me nightmares.)

Appistry has been providing its enterprise customers with private clouds for a few years now, and, according to Appistry’s Sam Charrington, “In many ways, they get to enjoy more of the promise of cloud computing than the folks … using public clouds have gotten to, mostly because there’s this gap that exists between getting a bunch of virtual machines from a cloud provider and really having a cloud-enabled, cloud-like application that can take advantage of those.” A middleware solution designed to abstract applications from the underlying architecture, create a pool of resources, and provision them as the application requires, EAF takes care of the “just a bunch of virtual machines” issue.

Charrington added that much of the hype around cloud computing stems from this gap between what users want and what clouds can deliver. “We … elevate the application so it can achieve those high levels of service — high levels of scalability, high levels of reliability, high levels of performance — in any of these environments.”

This might be a particularly good move for Appistry because it has a chance to carve out a niche as the company enabling high-performance applications to run on public clouds. It’s current customers run a variety of applications, and one, GeoEye, uses EAF to process satellite images. If customers are able to build similar virtual architectures, the scope of applications suited to running in the cloud could expand.

I asked Charrington why Appistry chose these two partners and not, say, Amazon, and his answer is that GoGrid and SkyTap are just more serious about enterprise must-haves like quality-of-service and SLAs.

License-wise, Appistry and its cloud partners are working to ensure customers can use their Appistry virtual machines in an hourly billing model. At the moment, it is addressing the licensing issue moving from its per-CPU-per-year subscription model (which includes support) to a more cloud-friendly per core model.

For its internal customers, Charrington says the company “pretty frequently” kicks around the idea of utility billing and/or chargeback capabilities, but acknowledges that “we’re not quite there yet. Plus, customers like knowing they have use of EAF and support for the entire year. He does note, however, that Appistry is flexible in working with customer needs. For example, “If someone says ‘We’ve got this great opportunity. We don’t want to invest upfront, but it’s going to save us lots and lots of money,’ we’d entertain talking to them about sharing in that savings.”

You might notice a difference in Appistry’s approach to partnering with cloud providers versus that of Oracle. I asked Sam about Larry Ellison’s disparaging cloud comments, and he pretty much laughed it off as Larry being Larry. However, he added, hopefully Appistry can help a start-up SaaS company take advantage of cloud computing and grow up to be the next Oracle “so we don’t have to listen to the flack from Larry so much.”

More Mosso

Speaking of public clouds (or, in this case, cloud platforms), Mosso just keeps on rolling and seems to be the platform of choice for new Web sites that require on-demand scaling the way only cloud computing can. Specifically, Mosso seems to attracting usage from start-up sites that cover hot topics, and therefore could experience major traffic spikes with little warning Today, Mosso announced that it is powering YouDecide2008.com, “a bi-partisan Web site and blog supporting lively discussions and information about this years election, which experiences great spikes in demand.”

CNN.com they’re not, but Mosso’s work with popular sites like AppleiPhoneSchool.com (which experienced a 4x spike when iPhone 3G was released in July), YouDecide2008.com and the Teen Choice Awards (whose Web site received more than 34.5 million votes over a few weeks) proves that Mosso is succeeding in what it set out to do. As co-founder Jonathan Bryce told me earlier in the year, that is to provide “a place where developers can basically upload their code and we take care of the rest.”

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