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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.
    • 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: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Jurily ( 900488 )

        exactly how game console, cellular providers, and drug dealers work

        You get a free set of spoons and needles, if you sign up for two years!

      • I usually sneak soda in the old fasioned way. I tuck it in between my belt and my stomach like a grade school erection.

        The burgers and tacos just go in my pockets.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by phantomfive ( 622387 )
      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?
    • closing the Kindle makes business sense in the same kind of way opening the service infrastructure might. I work for a company that might more seriously consider using their services if we knew we wouldn't loose our portability. Remember, cloud computing vendors tout themselves as a utility, this would be required before they could truly make that happen. And of course, this is my speculation on a rumor, grain meet salt.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Kindle source code files: http://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html?ie=UTF8&nodeId=200203720&qid=1243644379&sr=1-1

  • Eucalyptus and EC2 (Score:3, Interesting)

    by tcopeland ( 32225 ) <tom@@@thomasleecopeland...com> on Friday May 29, 2009 @06:15PM (#28144681) Homepage

    Folks may be familiar with the open source EC2 "clone" (or whatever) Eucalyptus [eucalyptus.com]. The latest version even has Elastic Block Storage support [eucalyptus.com]. Is anyone using it in anger?

  • Doesn't mean that they'll do it.
  • by Thyrsus ( 13292 ) on Friday May 29, 2009 @06:18PM (#28144715) Homepage

    Up to now, every "cloud" solution has been completely different, meaning that once you invest in getting one to work, you lose much of that investment if try moving to another. There are *lots* of important dimensions to compete on -- bandwidth cost, CPU cost, RAM cost, OS selection, security, privacy, reliability, reliability, and did I mention reliability? -- but until there is a common platform among vendors, it's all apples and oranges comparison.

    Open source would change all that.

    Suddenly, I can compare the cost of building it myself to the cost of having Amanzon do it. Due to scale, Amazon should win, but maybe I want to pay for less reliability for my development environment, or I want to pay for more reliability by duplicating that environment among several vendors, or I want to keep the super-sensitive data on my own data haven. Win, win, win.

    • "Suddenly, I can compare the cost"

      And that's something the leader of any market niche never wants. Amazon seems to be the leader of this market niche, so the only reason they would do over the open path is if they really feel that the lessen parties can menace their position by grouping together around the same standard against them.

    • Up to now, every "cloud" solution has been completely different, meaning that once you invest in getting one to work, you lose much of that investment if try moving to another. ... Open source would change all that.

      I've actually been hearing about a couple of startups (I don't have their names handy) that are creating integration software for different virtualization and cloud computing platforms. The example they gave me was how we could tie our VMWare infrastructure (ESX and VMWare Server installs) to fut

  • by Anonymous Coward

    rohypnol-lover writes "Microsoft has been one of the early movers in the operating system space, with its XP offerings, including SP2 and SP3. 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 'operating systems' out there -- public or private. From the article, 'Microsoft faces significant threats from open source operating systems if it pursues a purely proprietary path [...] Microsoft can't ignore the cost advantages a

  • Their whole business model is based on leasing you the marginal computer power they have at their disposal, not at leasing you code or algorithms.

    It's not like you can take the code for S3 and instantly offer a cut-rate S3 service, you need to have the throughput and backend storage they have, and processes they use to manage it efficiently. That's what they sell, and really open-sourcing the systems will only make their services more useful and ubiquitous, because people who want to build a simple hash-da

  • Not open source (Score:5, Insightful)

    by royallthefourth ( 1564389 ) <royallthefourth@gmail.com> 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.

    • Please mod parent up.

      E.g. Just because you can use Googles Map or Chart Apis, you still don't have the real thing. It is an additional dependence.

      In my opinion, the term "open-sourcing an API" should never be used, as it is not correct. It is more like releasing a specification and and maybe a free/open usage of the service.

    • Then perhaps you need to make yourself learned about Eucalyptus.

      I would also learn about a little used language called Erlang and how it works. Something screams ultra-distributed network there. Im sure Haskell or Lisp could do similar, but updating programs while users are on it active, just seems so much more powerful.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Stuntmonkey ( 557875 )

      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 [eetimes.com] 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

  • GeoCities. No kidding.

    If you commoditize your service to that extent, so will everyone else. You're not going to be able to charge any more than your expenses + SFA.

    You'll notice IBM are selling software, services and servers to cloud vendors, not particularly trying to get in on the act themselves, despite having a fearsome service division. They're selling the spades and picks in the gold rush.


  • There is no group of people of any significant size that would pay to use Amazon services only if they were open source.

    Indeed they could lose customers to other providers that provide the same software at up to zero cost. This also represents a security issue for Amazon Customers.

    The advantage would be to gain free programmers for their services. This is not very useful, as in this case they are leveraging their massive investment in internet services for running their company. The more it is useful for

    • by Taevin ( 850923 ) *

      This also represents a security issue for Amazon Customers.

      Security through obscurity, eh? Well, whatever helps you sleep at night.

  • While it would be nice to have more competition in the space, the fact is that we trust Amazon with our bits now. There are other players we could trust, but none with the sheer power of Amazon. Sure they go down once or twice a year, but hey, who among us can claim that nothing in our entire infrastructures never ever goes down? Why would the submitter think that any other current player can keep their service growing and have the same reasonable uptimes that Amazon does? Here in the real world, we don't
  • by jipn4 ( 1367823 ) on Friday May 29, 2009 @08:51PM (#28146029)

    What the hell is that supposed to mean? The APIs are already available; other people implement them.

    You can only "open source" source code.

  • Amazons best bet will be to go Open Source, it's a proven method that will produce better results. Using a EC2 Cloud Open Sourced will truly be a great move, that is if they make it.

"In the face of entropy and nothingness, you kind of have to pretend it's not there if you want to keep writing good code." -- Karl Lehenbauer