Feeds

Google urged to make a more loving cloud

Open source BigTable and improve fluffiness, please

The essential guide to IT transformation

Structure 08 Yes, Google has opened its cloud to every developer down on earth. But for some, it's not quite as open as it should be.

Speaking this morning at Structure 08, a mini-conference dedicated to cloud computing, Jason Hoffman, founder and CTO of Joyent, called on Google to open source its cloud-based database, BigTable - or at least offer a version that developers can run on their own. Otherwise, Hoffman argued, apps built on Google's cloud - aka App Engine - will be stuck on Google's cloud.

"The reality is that if you're using BigTable as your data store and you want to get the benefit of scale, you can't leave," Hoffman said. "Unless Google either open sources BigTable or makes it so you can buy it and install it on your own servers, you're locked in."

Hoffman advocates what he calls "a freely available, fully-open-sourced, loving cloud" - a cloud that plays well with other clouds. And at this point, Google's unwilling to show that much love.

BigTable underpins many of Google's own online apps, and although it's happy to let others use the platform, it doesn't want competitors lifting the hood.

But the Mountain View outfit insists that its cloud allows for more portability than you might think. Yes, BigTable is closed, but Google still envisions a world where developers can freely move code from App Engine to third-party clouds, including Amazon's Web Services platform.

"It's a minor mis-characterization to say that App Engine is proprietary," Google senior engineer Christophe Bisciglia said during this morning's panel. "The API is very well documented, and one developer has actually built something called Appdrop, which allowed you to take app engine code and run it on EC2 - just by changing the implementation of our file presence and data-base layer.

"One of the things I think is very exciting about App Engine is that it could create a way of building portable applications. Right now, with our developers, we're previewing Google infrastructure. But there is nothing about the model that would prevent App Engine from running anywhere from a local server to any other variety of cloud."

Bisciglia went on to say that the App Engine API is not specific to BigTable. But he admitted that third-party databases won't scale as well. After all, he said, Google has years of experience serving online apps to millions of people across the globe.

"I would argue that Google is a little bit ahead in terms of BigTable," he said. "But the platform doesn't prevent somebody who builds a better mousetrap - a better BigTable - to come in and compete."

Does that mean developers can use their own databases today? Not quite. "[App Engine] is a developer preview, so I don't want to make promises about what will happen when we go out of the developer preview stage," Bisciglia said.

So it's not a loving cloud today. But it could be someday.

Of course, App Engine isn't the only big-name cloud facing the portability problem. Amazon and Salesforce.com are less than loving too. If apps are to jump from cloud to cloud, everyone must open source their code. Or agree to open standards. ®

Boost IT visibility and business value

More from The Register

next story
Pay to play: The hidden cost of software defined everything
Enter credit card details if you want that system you bought to actually be useful
HP busts out new ProLiant Gen9 servers
Think those are cool? Wait till you get a load of our racks
Shoot-em-up: Sony Online Entertainment hit by 'large scale DDoS attack'
Games disrupted as firm struggles to control network
Community chest: Storage firms need to pay open-source debts
Samba implementation? Time to get some devs on the job
Silicon Valley jolted by magnitude 6.1 quake – its biggest in 25 years
Did the earth move for you at VMworld – oh, OK. It just did. A lot
VMware's high-wire balancing act: EVO might drag us ALL down
Get it right, EMC, or there'll be STORAGE CIVIL WAR. Mark my words
prev story

Whitepapers

Top 10 endpoint backup mistakes
Avoid the ten endpoint backup mistakes to ensure that your critical corporate data is protected and end user productivity is improved.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Backing up distributed data
Eliminating the redundant use of bandwidth and storage capacity and application consolidation in the modern data center.
The essential guide to IT transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIOs automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.