Today, AppScale and Equinix Metal™ announced a partnership to enable on-demand deployment of AWS workloads on Packet's bare-metal infrastructure. If this is not (the much maligned and admittedly overused) "synergy," we don't know what is:
- Equinix Metal has a great API for infrastructure provisioning, but AWS users are used to APIs that abstract away the hardware;
- AppScale ATS gives AWS users the abstractions they want, but needs hardware infrastructure (and a few IP addresses) to function.
Together, we are now able to spin up what looks like your very own AWS region, with just a couple commands. This is super cool because – in the spirit of cloud – what used to take months now takes minutes. And you pay only for what you use. How cool is that?! This was a long time coming, though.
For those who've been around, AppScale ATS is basically rebranded Eucalyptus. Same code, same people. What's different is the go-to-market. Eucalyptus was sold to enterprises directly, as a software product. That means that the customer had to buy or repurpose machines, wire them up, configure them with OS, negotiate with the network gatekeepers, etc. That was a big commitment, it took fore-e-e-e-ever, and was more error-prone than setting up a video conference call in the year 2020.
If anything, private cloud barriers only grew higher since 2010. These days nobody wants to own hardware, wait for infrastructure to arrive, argue with the NOC, or even set up a database. We are all spoiled by the instant gratification of cloud services. Equinix Metal gets it and AppScale does, too. Equinix Metal will lease you the servers and will set up the network routes you need -- in a flash! In a few minutes more AppScale will take that and layer software-defined storage and software-defined network on top, exposing them as EC2, EBS, S3, and VPC. Fully- or self-managed – your choice – with no new tools to learn (keep using your AWS tools).
What's so good about an AWS region outside Amazon? Well... that depends on your needs.
If you'd like tighter control over your hardware, you're better off on Equinix Metal and AppScale. You know exactly what hardware you get and you have a choice in how you apportion it to the virtual machines running in your cloud. For example, you could oversubscribe the heck out of that c3.medium's EPYC 7402P if you like. Or not. Up to you.
If you'd like more flexible control over the location of your data, you're better off with Equinix Metal and AppScale. Today we have you covered in Europe (Amsterdam), South-East Asia (Singapore), and Japan (Tokyo), with more locations to come. You know exactly on what servers and in which data-centers your data resides. You can restrict the geographic placement exactly as you like. If you want to run ATS in-house, that's cool, too.
If you're cost conscious, you can win, too. We think hyper-scalers are fantastic for handling huge load spikes, but we can easily outbid them for more steady-state workloads (stuff like CI/CD, periodic analytics, always-on VMs, etc). For predictable workloads, talk to us about spinning up an AppScale ATS cloud on Equinix Metal for significant savings.
All of these come down to independence. Equinix Metal and AppScale give you independence from Amazon without paying the price for extracting yourself from it. Use both at the same time! Move workloads as you wish. It's pure flexibility.
Looking into the future, we see – quite clearly – many enterprise and startup infrastructure needs served by three or maybe four hyper-scale clouds (Google or Alibaba vying for the third spot in the West). Less clearly but more longingly we're anticipating (and working towards) a federation of smaller, more specialized providers, offering alternatives that are differentiated and, taken all together, much more robust. There are a couple historical parallels here to guide our (hopefully not purely wishful) thinking.
First, the history of open-source software (so far) tells us that there are enough people willing to build and enough people inclined to use open-source software to foster an alternative to proprietary walled gardens (be they the Microsoft ecosystem of the 1990's, the Facebook of 2000's, or the AWS of the 2010's). Furthermore, open-source efforts have generated enough innovation that the walled gardens we all know (a) were built upon them, (b) continue to ingress and sometimes monetize open-source innovation, and (c) occasionally even contribute back in the hope of benefiting more from the energy of open-source projects.
The point is, without resource constraints (of easy access to mainframes or minicomputers or PCs) open source development is a formidable force for innovation and, ultimately, liberation from someone else's idea of a perfect software stack. Yes, you can bet your Equinix Metal credits that the open-source ecosystem fostered by Equinix Metal, AppScale, Wasabi, CloudFlare, and others can out-innovate AWS, at least in some areas. We do love Dynamo, Cosmos, and Spanner, but we believe that the open-source community can often do better than that. Yup! Open platforms like Equinix Metal + AppScale are perfect places for that kind of innovation.
Second, there is the story of Microsoft's operating system API. There are many technical details to this story (CP/M ⤳ DOS ⤳ Windows ⤳ Win32, ...), but essentially the DOS/Windows API has been dominant in personal computer systems from the early 80's until now, with just a couple worthy competitors. What has happened to those competitors – MacOS and Linux – is interesting, though. After many years of forging their own destinies, Apple adopted the de-facto open-source POSIX API for its applications and, eventually, Microsoft offered it as an option, too.
Although POSIX did not originate in the world of open source, it was ultimately dominated by the Linux community, giving it the gravitas necessary to accept as the stable platform for software development in the 1990's and 2000's. We believe AWS is in a similar situation of being the platform of choice for cloud developers in 2010 and beyond. Its proprietary origins are irrelevant. Even the Oracle-Google legal battle over copyrightability of APIs is irrelevant. What's relevant is that these days the majority of cloud applications are being written on AWS and that majority of developers leverage open source.
AppScale and Equinix Metal deliver AWS abstractions in a flexible, opinionated, democratized cloud environment underpinned by open-source software. Live long and prosper!