Shortly after going GA with Google App Engine (GAE), Google announced a new pricing scheme a few days back.
This new scheme has generated lots of heat and anger, with some GAE customers estimating their monthly cost will grow from US $8,800 to an estimated US $20,000.
To me, this turn of events leads to several observations:
1) Standards are critical, but even moreso in the cloud. As GAE moved from a trial offering to a full-fledged, strategic GA offering, it was Business 101 for Google. They eventually have to make sure the pricing scheme matches their real costs – not doing it earlier and selling their platform at a loss for so long was the real mistake here. Consequently, while Google is certainly within their rights to make the change, the most upset GAE users are obviously the ones who are already locked-in to GAE’s proprietary features.
In the Platform as a Service (PaaS) era, open standards are even more important than they are in an on-premise environment. With a PaaS scenario, open standards become a fallback strategy in case a PaaS vendor starts providing poor service or is not competitive anymore, and the customer wants to make a platform change. That fallback strategy is supposed to be even easier to leverage in the PaaS era: PaaS offerings are typically very easy to deploy applications onto, consequently migration to a new provider should be a breeze…as long as you do not lock yourself into PaaS-specific features.
At CloudBees, we have always pitched that Open Standards were not only critical to the success of Java, but are also essential to the success of Java PaaS vendors. While Ruby and dynamic languages have historically been the favored PaaS languages to date, I believe that Java truly has a brighter future in the cloud: a lot of Java features are backed by Open Standards (or strong de facto standards). Further, the next iteration of EE7 will focus on extending that feature set in order to match the most typical PaaS deployment scenarios. Well-accepted open and de facto standards are a huge enabler for Java in the cloud, as they reduce vendor lock-in and force an equal playing field among Java PaaS vendors. That equal playing field represents obvious value for customers.
As a proof point, proprietary PaaS vendors, such as Salesforce.com, have realized that building a PaaS on top of a proprietary architecture — with proprietary APIs and a proprietary language — would only satisfy a number of users and use cases. Their recent acquisition of Heroku certainly shows a desire to become more “kosher” in that regard.
2) The PaaS market is new and pricing schemes/levels are very much undefined. PaaS vendors are still trying to figure out what the right pricing scheme is, and you should expect the schemes to evolve over time. This situation will certainly last for a couple of years until the market settles on a unified scheme. We tend to forget that the per-CPU pricing model that supported the success of the software industry for the last 20 years didn’t happen overnight.
At CloudBees, we have tried to use a relatively simple freemium model that gets rid of a number of variables typically exposed by IaaS vendors (such as bandwidth usage, for example) and we offer dedicated instances for larger customers. In summary, we are adapting to the use cases we see the most frequently and are very much listening to our customers’ feedback: they are the true voice that will ultimately cast the vote on what is(are) the right pricing scheme(s).
3) PaaS vendors have real deployments, today. If anything, complaints made in the GAE forums show that a number of companies are using PaaS solutions for real — that is, running real applications with real load and driving real business with them.
At CloudBees, we are soon going to release some case studies that clearly demonstrate the level of productivity development teams can expect by leveraging the CloudBees PaaS — which effectively removes the need for any IT and DevOps investment across your entire development-to-deployment lifecycle. This is simply unmatched in the industry.
As PaaS offerings get more sophisticated, more and more deployment scenarios will be satisfied and companies will move en-masse towards PaaS platforms in order to remain competitive. Obviously, if you are looking for a new home for your Java applications, you might want to give CloudBees, the Java PaaS, a try. We are eagerly awaiting your feedback!
Sacha Labourey, CEO