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Are Amazon's Web Services Going Open Source? 42

ruphus13 writes "Amazon has been one of the early movers in the cloud computing space, with its AWS offerings, including S3 and EC2. Now, there is a lot of chatter around the imminent open sourcing of all its APIs and services and the impact that will have on the other 'clouds' out there — public or private. From the article, 'Amazon faces significant threats from open source cloud computing efforts if it pursues a purely proprietary path [...] Amazon can't ignore the cost advantages and diversity of product offerings that open source players are already offering in the cloud computing space. The company's best move is to open source its tools, which will end up diversifying them, play on a level field in terms of cost with the open source alternatives, and charge for services. Absent these moves, the company will lose potential customers to free, open source alternatives [...] Word is Amazon's legal team is currently 'investigating' open sourcing their various web services API's including EC2, S3, etc.', although these have not been confirmed by Amazon."
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Are Amazon's Web Services Going Open Source?

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  • No (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Serilleous ( 1400333 ) on Friday May 29, 2009 @06:04PM (#28144569)
    With all the effort Amazon has put behind defending its products like Kindle from open source meddling, I would be shocked if they reversed their business strategy.
  • Not open source (Score:5, Insightful)

    by royallthefourth ( 1564389 ) <> on Friday May 29, 2009 @06:27PM (#28144813)

    An open API (whatever that is) is not the same as an open source program. If they were releasing the code that makes EC2 work, that would really be newsworthy. Of course, it'll never happen. Making their API accessible is just a way to get more people using their service.

  • Re:No (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Ohio Calvinist ( 895750 ) on Friday May 29, 2009 @06:31PM (#28144845)
    The key is integration. They stand to make money if developers/companies use their web services in their custom applications/solutions. It makes it more possible to integrate Amazon services into existing systems, and makes them more difficut to "cut-out" of those systems later. For the Kindle (and iPod), the cost is subsidized by content sales, exactly how game console, cellular providers, and drug dealers work. The money is on the comeback in the form of content (music, books, games) or the service.

    Disneyworld tickets are $99 so they don't really care what you bring into the park in the form of food. Movie tickets are $9, which doesn't cover their cost, so they need to make their money off refreshments which is why they prohibit food.

    Their ideology is profitability. If openness leads to profitability in one enterprise they'll jump on it. If in another it doesn't, they'll resist it. Most businesses don't go closed/open on philosophy, they do so on profitability.
  • Re:No (Score:3, Insightful)

    by phantomfive ( 622387 ) on Friday May 29, 2009 @07:37PM (#28145465) Journal
    Wait, what effort did they put into defending the Kindle? The hack to get root was basically nothing more than swapping out the root password. They even left the serial port on the back of the device. Putting your own OS on the device is also easy, and in fact a mechanism to do so is built into it. For a while I was even messing around with compiling xpdf for it, but never really got around to it. So what efforts exactly are you talking about?
  • Re:Not open source (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Stuntmonkey ( 557875 ) on Friday May 29, 2009 @08:26PM (#28145821)

    I agree, this article as written makes no sense. To "open source an API" is muddy thinking, a non-concept. At least in the US, there is well-established legal precedent [] allowing companies to duplicate APIs at a functional level. E.g., the function of APIs is not copyrightable in the way that source code is. So anybody that wants to can come along and implement their own versions of the EC2, S3, etc. API. They don't need any approval from Amazon.

    Now Amazon may decide it's in their best interest if other cloud providers adopted their APIs. Presumably they would do this to encourage more companies to adopt cloud computing (i.e., eliminate lock-in as a risk). They could advance their APIs as standards in a number of ways, including making some of their own specific implementations open-source. Is this what the article is trying to say?

God helps them that themselves. -- Benjamin Franklin, "Poor Richard's Almanac"