Amazon’s Toolkit Strategy
Amazon announced the other day that they were releasing a product called CloudSearch. It’s yet another new product within the AWS portfolio, a portfolio that is getting so full of features that it is beginning become difficult to categorize. Traditionally there have three types of cloud services; Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), and Software as a Service (SaaS). The question is, what is Amazon EC2 today? It’s not software as a service, but I can make a good argument for either platform or infrastructure:
- Amazon EC2 is Platform as a Service. It gives clients access to way more than just an operating system so that they can quickly code an application without the hassle of building on an IaaS. For example the new CloudSearch feature or the Relational Database Management feature, if Amazon EC2 were only an IaaS cloud, you’d have to deploy your own RDBMS and Third Party Search tool.
- Amazon EC2 is Infrastructure as a Service. If you’ve ever developed an application at Engine Yard or in Google’s App Engine you know better then to think an RDBMS and a search function make it a platform. A platform is a place where I can deploy code from Eclipse and it just runs. Where do I deploy code on Amazon? I don’t, I have to set up an app server and web server myself. They also charge me for the CPU and bandwidth I use, doesn’t sound much like a platform to me.
The reality is that both arguments have a point. Amazon isn’t a Platform, but it’s not just Infrastructure either. They have created this “toolkit” of products that can be used on top of their infrastructure that don’t quite make it in to a platform, but also distinguish it from an infrastructure offering. The question for me is, “does this really make Amazon a new category of offering, maybe “IaaS+” or does it meant that IaaS and PaaS aren’t really seperate categories of products, but more accurately opposite sides of one product continuum?” Any thoughts?