As I have written about recently there has been a war going on for the future of the cloud. Today Amazon's AWS unveiled their super weapon, the AWS Marketplace. What Apple's App Store did for smartphone usage, the AWS marketplace could do for the cloud. This is a game changer.
Now users looking to set up a cloud presence have one place to go and load a wide variety of cloud apps. Everything from OS choices like Red Hat, Amazon's own Linux or Ubuntu to security from the likes of Checkpoint, McAfee and Alert Logic (full disclosure I consult for Alert Logic). But there is so much more. There are development stacks from Bitnami, Amazon and others featuring a wide range of options like JBoss, Ruby, MySQL and more. Also the Big Data NoSQL crowd is there with MongoDB and Couchbase, among others.
The categories for apps right now are: Software Infrastructure, Application Development, Application Stacks, Application Servers, Databases & Caching, Network Infrastructure, Operating Systems, Security, Developer Tools, Issue & Bug Tracking, Monitoring, Source Control, Testing, Business Software, Business Intelligence, Collaboration, Content Management, CRM, eCommerce, High Performance Computing, Media, Project Management, and Storage & Backup.
Most if not all of the apps available in the marketplace are available by the hour or by the month. All billing is handled by Amazon as part of a consolidated, unified bill for what you use. This makes it very convienient for both the cloud user as well as the cloud vendor. Also for the vender, most of the apps in the marketplace are just one click away. The provisioning and deployment is also handled by Amazon on the back end. Provisioning such as this is a godsend to anyone who has had to install and set up anything in a cloud before.
For anyone who has had to set up and install cloud instances before you know what a game changer this is. For many new comers to the cloud they will think this is the way it is and not know anything else. The same way phone users don't know what it was like to shop and install apps on a phone before there was an app store.
Where does this leave OpenStack and some of the other open source cloud stacks? Looking in from the outside I am afraid. For CloudStack and Eucalyptus, I would assume their partnerships with Amazon will see them supporting marketplace apps in one form or another eventually. For OpenStack I am sure we are going to see a marketplace of their own soon. While Rackspace already had a partner listing of products that run on the Rackspace cloud, it is crude compared to the slick integration of the AWS Marketplace.
As I wrote earlier, I do some consulting for Alert Logic one of only 6 security vendors in the security section of the marketplace. So I have been aware of the Marketplace for some time now. But working on just one offering for it, I did not see the entire breath and scope of it until today. It seems to be everything Amazon would hope for with it. I am sure there are plenty of vendors both in security and other areas who are now making plans to make sure their offerings are listed in this new marketplace.
Focusing on security for a moment, it would seem that most of the security apps available now run the gamut from SaaS based endpoint protection, malware protection for your cloud instance, IDS and vulnerability management from Alert Logic's Threat Manager, as well as virtual security software blades from Checkpoint.
What could prove interesting is something I have speculated on before. In deployments on a scale such as a large public cloud like Amazon's AWS, how are virtual security appliances going to scale. Personally I think virtual appliances are an evolutionary dead end, as the overhead of managing so many appliances, virtual or not will just eat up too many resources. Other security solutions designed for public cloud environments using SaaS based deployments will I think require much less overhead and management per instance.
But there is much more here besides security though. Amazon helped create the cloud market with AWS. Today they have launched public cloud 2.0 by bringing easy, broad options to anyone. The bar has just been raised, now it is up to the other cloud ecosystems to at least match if not exceed the AWS marketplace. In the meantime using the cloud may never be the same.