Posts tagged Networks
It’s easy to assume the public cloud war is over and Amazon has won. Gartner highlights Amazon Web Services offers five times the utilized compute capacity of the other 14 cloud providers in the Gartner Magic Quadrant. Combined.
However impressive this lead may seem, Gartner’s analysis didn’t include the Google Cloud, which hadn’t yet publicly launched.
Google is different from Amazon’s other cloud competitors. And it has something that AWS doesn’t: massive, insanely fast network capacity. This could be a game changer.
AWS: Game, Set … Match?
There are many reasons to love AWS. Unlike the prototypical vendor wielding monopoly power, AWS hasn’t raised prices or slowed innovation. In fact, it has done the exact opposite, relentlessly dropping prices and spinning up new services and features at a torrid pace.
AWS competitors have mostly been caught flat-footed. Gartner analyst Lydia Leong suggests that, “Many [AWS] competitors haven’t had the willingness to invest the resources to compete … they’ve failed to understand that this is a software business, where feature velocity matters.”
Not so at Google. The search conglomerate already sports over 75 developer-centric APIs, far more than AWS. Google groks agile development. But the vulnerability of AWS may not be a matter of development vitesse. It could instead have far more to do with network speeds.
Looking For Amazon’s Achilles Heel
Every competitor is frantically looking for AWS’ weakness, something that can be used against it to win over developers and the enterprises they serve. People have called out security and performance for years, but Amazon keeps marching on.
More recently, Pivotal executive James Waters has argued that Amazon’s quasi-religious devotion to the public cloud leaves it vulnerable to a more flexible approach:
@mjasay AWS is a monster right now–full stop, but the tech world is defined by change as well…and multi-cloud may be their flat tire
— James Watters (@wattersjames) February 5, 2014
Waters could be right. Trying to push enterprises into a fully public cloud may ultimately fail in the face of strong hybrid approaches from the likes of Pivotal/CloudFoundry. But this may not be enough.
GigaOm’s Barb Darrow lists “8 things Google Cloud could do to freak Amazon out,” but she leaves out one major differentiator, something that Cloudscaling’s Randy Bias latches onto and which may trump all other factors: network capacity.
A Drag Race In The Cloud
As Bias highlights, Google (along with Yahoo! and Microsoft) has been buying dark fiber and deploying it between its data centers for the past decade.” Such networks are capable of Terabit speeds and interconnect Google data centers. This means that “If you own the dark fiber and light it yourself, you can continue to push more bandwidth across the same strands but using new DWDM gear on either side.”
So what? Bias explains:
What can Google do with this? Imagine the ability to have all Google Cloud Storage geo-replicated for free bandwidth costs. With so much bandwidth, moving huge VM images (100+ GB) across the network no longer sounds crazy. What about having your “regions” be as big as the entire eastern or western seaboards? All of this is possible if you have a big, fast, cheap WAN, which Google has and Amazon will never be able to achieve.
Because dark fiber is now in seriously short supply, Amazon doesn’t have the ability to play catch-up simply by spending. AWS is now structurally incapable of competing with Google in terms of supply of bandwidth between its data centers and the cost of delivering that speed.
This is a very big deal. Will it be enough to slow down the AWS juggernaut? Time will tell. But Google is most definitely a real competitor to Amazon in the cloud. Things are about to get interesting.
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New social networks are cropping up all over the Internet, spawning like rabbits keeping warm during a polar vortex.
Jelly, the highly-anticipated app cofounded by Twitter’s Biz Stone, was finally revealed on Tuesday. Turns out, it’s just another social application that its founders claim is “a new way to search.” With Jelly, users connect with the friends and followers they’re already connected to on existing social networks and then upload a photo just to ask: “What is this?”
Jelly adds another icon to the social bucket on our mobile devices, and asks us all to rely on our friends to provide trustworthy answers. Basically, it’s Quora meets Pinterest.
Even Forbes recently launched its own “mini social network”. The company’s so-called “Stream” lets readers save and share articles exclusively using the Forbes iOS application. Stream is a timeline comprised of Forbes articles, publicly or privately shared by and to Forbes readers. Of course, readers can in turn share articles directly to other social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr.
The Saturation Of Mobile Breeds New Apps
In the heyday of desktop computers, there was clear competition driving our social network use. Facebook usurped MySpace by infiltrating college campuses, and quickly took over international markets becoming the largest, and most addictive, social platform.
But society has finally reached smartphone ubiquity, fueling the ability and desire to create and distribute social apps that give users one more application they have to check.
Nearly all social apps rely on the information databases Facebook and Twitter have already built. Each time we download a new social app, we’re given the option to sign up with social login, and are then able to share the activity on the accounts we signed up with in the first place.
Many apps have suffered the rise and fall of consumer interest—a flashy new product grabs attention for a moment, and the number of signups propel the app to the top of any App Store. But as consumer interest wanes, usually caused by both the quality of posts and the increased distribution of time spent on other networks, apps once heralded as “the next great social platform” can quickly become obsolete.
Take Path. Path is an exclusive network, built so that information can only be shared with a select group of close friends. It relies on Facebook’s social graph and users’ Twitter accounts to find and connect with individuals. After shady invite practices spammed Facebook users, the original social network blocked Path’s “find friends” feature. The app that was once valued at one billion dollars has plummeted in both popularity and use—the end result of what appears to be the lifecycle of a social app.
The OG Social Network
Remember when you signed school yearbooks with your phone number? The antiquated address book has reinvented itself as the new social network as messaging applications threaten to overthrow the stalwart likes of Facebook.
It’s likely the names and numbers stored in your phonebook belong to actual friends. Which is why apps that access your address book are rising in popularity.
Snapchat, 2013’s messaging darling, has created a social network that is both a visual and private way to interact with friends. The simple ephemeral messaging app found its way into smartphones—and teens’ hearts—everywhere, tapping into every growth trend on the Internet by capitalizing on the data stored in our contact list.
Although the app has been fraught with controversy, mainly as the subject of a massive data breach that exposed over four million Snapchat user phone numbers, people will continue to use their 10-digit identities as friend-finding features. It’s just too easy not to.
Is Consolidation Possible?
Continued innovation prevents services from monopolizing, but for social, it arguably already exists. Most of our friends can be found on Facebook or Twitter, and if nothing else, we can send them a text message.
At the heart of it, social networks are built for connecting people, and human nature drives us to continue looking for the best possible way to do that.
Developers and founders who want to create the best way to communicate will continue to build apps that rely on mass consumption to survive.
But if there’s one thing driving consolidation and the desire to pare down our platforms, it’s time. Give me a reason to give you my time, and you’ve built something worth using. Otherwise, you’ve joined one of the many apps that quietly pass into the Internet’s ether as empty networks—barren deserts filled with updates no one ever sees.
Lead image via Jelly, other image via SeanMcEntee on Flickr
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