As part of the Google I/O keynote yesterday, several new features for Google Compute Engine were announced. First, GCE is now available to everyone in a preview and available for signups. They also announced Cloud Datastore, a NoSQL database solution and several other features.
Google Compute Engine looks great, but it's the same old thing from a cloud standpoint. AWS and GCE are both single-vendor, lock-in prone providers. You can't run GCE in your own datacenter. You can't customize and install GCE on both a $200 One-laptop-per-child notebook and a $4,000 MacBook Pro. These platforms are not open.
This year at SXSW, I spoke on why open matters. I used examples to explain how open can triumph over closed like the open Internet and AOL, or Linux vs. Windows. One of my favorite examples is the Betamax.<!-- more -->
Betamax? What is that?
Betamax was a superior video cassette format released by Sony in the 1970s and 1980s. It was a smaller cassette than JVC's VHS, with higher video quality. Here is a comparison video showing the formats side-by-side. LOOK AT THE QUALITY OF THAT LAKE!
How does Betamax relate to cloud?
Betamax was pushed by a single vendor, and while most saw it as a superior format, it had no interoperability between VCR vendors. Sony was unwilling to license Betamax technology, where JVC was happy to share the VHS format. Home movie enthusiasts could use VHS camcorders to review footage on one VCR and copy it to another for editing. It didn't matter what vendor made the VCR - it was a standard that just played the VHS format.
Once more and more companies were working on VHS, they were able to increase recording time on the tapes which led to a further advantage over a single vendor's proprietary format. In the same way, we've seen Android (more open) push Apple (more closed) forward with regard to features. Would the iPhone have cut-and-paste today if Android didn't have it first?
OpenStack is an open standard, with many companies working together to push forward on features and interoperability. A single vendor cannot move as fast as an open community. Google Compute Engine, even with its new features, is still a single vendor.