GoGrid wants to be your open source alternative to Amazon's cloud databases

IaaS vendors search for ways to compete with industry juggernaut

Amazon Web Services is a juggernaut in the infrastructure as a service market, but GoGrid, a midsize IaaS competitor that aims to be the cloud for big data, says it wants to offer an alternative to AWS's platform. And it's hoping to do so through open source databases.

AWS is a great platform for running its own custom-built proprietary databases, like DynamoDB, its internally-designed NoSQL database, along with Elastic Map Reduce, its Hadoop-like data service. But GoGrid CEO John Keagy says if an organization wants to use a true open source database, like MongoDB, Basho’s Riak, Hadoop or Cassandra, Amazon is not the place to go.

“We want to be an open source alternative,” he says. “If you’re not worried about lock-in then use (AWS). If you’re an enterprise that wants to be able to scale indefinitely and have a flexible architecture then you should identify those needs early and embrace an open source architecture.”

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Keagy says GoGrid has been built from the ground up with the intention of running open source big data workloads. The company has been recognized as one of the industry’s notable vendors by Gartner in the research firm’s latest Magic Quadrant. GoGrid was positioned in the “niche players” quadrant with one of the weakest “completeness of vision” rankings of the more than a dozen vendors in the report.

This week GoGird took a substantial step toward improving its platform with the launch of its 1-Button Deploy feature. The tool allows users to spin up versions of MongoDB, Basho’s Riak, Cassandra and Hortonworks’ Hadoop with one click. Keagy says this is the easiest way for users to spin up and test out a version of these open source tools. He’s hoping once users try it, they stick around.

Because they are open source, users can build applications around these data services in GoGrid’s cloud, then run the same copy of the open source software on their own premises and bring the apps back in-house. Keagy says customers can’t do that with AWS’s DynamoDB or EMR.

Here’s where GoGrid’s value proposition breaks down somewhat, though: AWS offers all those open source database options, too.

Liam Eagle, an analyst with 451 Research Group, says GoGrid is in a similar position to a host of other IaaS vendors looking for a competitive edge against AWS.

“While GoGrid is actually very competitive on price and performance relative to AWS and the other hyper-scale public clouds, such as Windows Azure and Google, it is a part of the large middle tier of infrastructure as a service providers that is looking for ways to differentiate their cloud infrastructure versus those very large players, rather than go head-to-head on raw resources,” he wrote in an e-mail. GoGrid is fairly unusual in offering all of these different types of open source databases as opposed to other providers like Rackspace, Joyent and IBM that choose to develop an expertise in one of these platforms. GoGrid is perhaps the strongest in the evaluation stage of these open source databases though, he adds.

The point is that for end users, GoGrid is offering an easy way to test out open source databases. Eagle says that’s valuable: Increasingly IT shops should consider using the cloud for big data management, and if they’re inclined to use open source tools, GoGrid is one of many places to start.

The market is in its early days. For many users, AWS’s DynamoDB and EMR are a fine fit, especially if the users have no plans to bring the services back in-house and they want to take advantage of AWS’s broad set of ancillary features. But for users who just want to dip their toe in the open source cloud-based database waters, GoGrid is an option.

The 1-Button deploy orchestration engine is a free service, customers only pay for the underlying resources. GoGrid’s pricing can be found here.

Senior Writer Brandon Butler covers cloud computing for Network World and NetworkWorld.com. He can be reached at BButler@nww.com and found on Twitter at @BButlerNWW. Read his Cloud Chronicles here.  

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