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The movement from ownership to renting on the web is absolutely terrifying to me. Within the span of a few years we've gone from owning our technology to renting it out from a big players for monthly fees that we cannot completely predict or control.

The advantages of owning your own hardware will never go away, but soon this will be made quite intentionally impossible as the big players coalesce and continue building their walled gardens.

This is already happening. All the big players own their hardware and rent it out to everyone else, while trying to convince everyone it's not worth owning your own hardware at the same time.

These companies have already begun closing off server platforms by developing custom hardware and software systems that cannot be bought for any price, only rented. These systems represent a new breed of technology with unbreakable vendor lock in.

Theses same companies compete with each other and countless other companies across the space. Take for example a start-up that wants to run their own app store. Google, Amazon, and Microsoft all run app stores. Where will this company go for cloud services? Their only big name options are to host their software on the hardware of a direct competitor. Their host has full visibility on how their system works, and control over the pricing and reliability of their machines.

It's laughable to think their "cloud partner" will give them any chance to compete if they enter the same market.

We've seen UEFI BIOS and un-unlockable mobiles enter the market in droves the last few years. A lot of new PC's can't run anything except windows. A lot of new phones can only run the carrier's version of android. We have all these general purpose CPUs that can no longer run general purpose programs because "security", and a lot of lobbyist pushing to make it actually illegal to run your own software on these with "anti tampering" laws, again for "security" . Soon the big guys (same companies, MS and Google) will make it impossible to run your own software on any reasonably inexpensive devices and the walled market will be complete.

Mark my words, I've never seen an industry with a couple big players where growth and innovation doesn't eventually turn into collusion, higher prices, and market stagnation. Once MS, Google and Amazon have their slice of the pie and they've killed off everyone else, we will see the death of general purpose computers and mobile devices. Everything you buy will be "android computer" "windows computer" and "apple computer". Anything general purpose will be massively more expensive because individual companies can't get the kind of volume discount of the giant behemoths that increasingly control large swaths of the world's computing power. We've already seen the endgame, with Amazon trialing an "on premesis" version of their compute platform which is basically a super locked down server that you can't buy, only rent endlessly. The future of on premesis will be a cloud in a black box if these companies have anything to do with it. Why? Because once they've got you locked in it makes no sense to sell you anything for keeps. Why keep improving their product so you buy the new version when they can just make it incompatible with everything else and force you to rent it forever, for whatever price they feel like charging?

One day running your own servers will be like running your own ISP . Massively impractical because the free market has been manipulated to the point that it effectively no longer exists




> One day running your own servers will be like running your own ISP . Massively impractical because the free market has been manipulated to the point that it effectively no longer exists

What? People use cloud computing because it already is massively impractical to run your own servers. Hardware is hard to run and scale on your own and experiences economies of scale. This principle is seen everywhere and can hardly be viewed as something controversial. Walmart for instance can sell things at a really low price because of the sheer volume of their sales. Similarly, data centers also experience economies of scale.

As someone who cares about offering the best possible, reliable user experience, cloud computing is absolutely the next logical step from bare metal on-prem servers. When your system experiences load outside the constraints of what it can handle, a properly designed app that has independently scaling microservices horizontally scales.

Even if you had the state of the art microservice architecture running on a kubernetes cluster on your own hardware, you still wouldn't be able to source disk/CPU fast enough if your service happens to experience loads beyond what you provisioned.

And there is the rub, buying your own hardware costs money, and no one wants to buy hardware they may not ever use. Another advantage of cloud computing.

You are seeing the peak of free market right now, because of cloud computing, which enables people with little upfront cash to invest to form real internet businesses and scale massively.

You think a game like Pokemon Go can exists and do the release they did without cloud computing?


"Even if you had the state of the art microservice architecture running on a kubernetes cluster on your own hardware, you still wouldn't be able to source disk/CPU fast enough if your service happens to experience loads beyond what you provisioned." That basically means you never planned. As everyone moves to cloud what makes you think AWS, Azure wont have same issue. If entire region is down do you think other regions can handle the load. If you think so you're kidding yourself. Unless you have business where you dont know your peak number then cloud does not matter.


You can plan all you'd like, failures happen not necessarily due to poor planning but because in real life, shit happens. Pokemon Go for instance experienced like 50x the amount of traffic they planned for.

Secondly, software companies like Microsoft, Google and IBM might know a thing or two about running data centers. Due to economies of scale, these companies are inherently in a better position to supply hardware at scale.

> If entire region is down do you think other regions can handle the load. If you think so you're kidding yourself

Netflix routinely does just this to test the resilience of their systems. They pick a random AWS region, and they evacuate it. All the traffic is proxied to the other regions and eventually via DNS the traffic is routed entirely to the surviving regions. No interruption of service is experienced by the users.

Here's a visualization of Netflix simulating a failure on the US-east-1 region and failing over to US-west-1/US-west-2

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KVbTjlZ0sfE

The top right node is the one that fails. As the error rate climbs, traffic starts getting proxied over to the surviving nodes, until a DNS switch redirects all traffic to the surviving nodes. Netflix does this monthly, in production. They also run https://github.com/Netflix/SimianArmy on production.

The cloud enables fault tolerance, resiliency and graceful degradation.


I think you missed the point, Netflix evacuating a region is not the same thing as that region failing. If the whole region goes down, their (AWS's) total capacity just took a major hit and unless they have obscenely over-provisioned (they haven't), shit is going to hit the fan when people start spinning up stuff in the remaining regions to make up for the loss.


>The cloud enables fault tolerance, resiliency and graceful degradation

No, tooling to failover and spin up new instances does that. An enterprise with 3 data centers can do that.

"the cloud" is just doing it on someone else's hardware.


Have you run your own servers in a colo? I've done it myself.

One person, with maybe 3 hours a week of time investment after a few weeks of setup and hardware purchase. Using containers I can move between the cloud and my own servers seamlessly, and long as I never bite the golden apple and use any of the cloud's walled garden "services" like S3. If I need more power I can spin up some temporary servers at any cloud provider in a few hours. For me the cloud is a nice thing because I don't use too much of it. If AWS disappeared tomorrow it would be a mild inconvenience, not devestating like it would be to many newer unicorns.

Go ahead and try to use the cloud you're paying for as a CDN or DDoS sheild, or anything amounting to a bastion of free speech. You'll quickly find out that your cloud provider doesn't like you to use all the bandwidth and CPU you pay for, and they don't like running your servers when they disagree with your views. They quietly overprovision everything pulling the same crap as consumer ISPs where they sell you a 100mbps line and punish you if you use more than 10 of that on average. That's the main reason the cloud is so cheap.

Hardware is cheap, colo's are cheap, software is largely easy to manage. The economy of scale they enjoy is from vendor lock-in and overprovisioning more than anything else.

Is it really that hard to double the amount of servers you own every few weeks? No! If you're using containers or managed KVM you can mirror nodes basically for free over the network as soon as the Ethernet is plugged in. Your time amounts to what it takes to put the thing in a rack, plug in the Ethernet, and hit the "on" button. Everybody in SV land thinks you have to use cloud to "scale massively" but they forget that all of today's technology behemoths were built years ago when the cloud didn't exist. Oh yeah, they all still run all of their own hardware too and have from the early days. Using their model as a template, you should own every single server you use and start selling your excess capacity once you get big enough.

Did you ever read about how Netflix tried to run their own hardware but can't because they have so much data in AWS that it would basically bankrupt them to extract it? Look at how these cost models work. Usually inbound bandwidth is extremely cheap or free but outbound is massively more expensive than a dedicated line at a datacenter, 50-100 times the cost if you're saturating that line 24/7. The removal fees from a managed store like S3 or glacier are even more ludicrous. The cloud is like crack and as soon as you start using it more than a few times a year you will get locked in and unable to leave without spending massive $$$. Usually companies figure out this shell game once they're large enough, but by then it's far too late to do anything about it.

Why are they marketing these things so heavily to startups? Because lock in is how they make their money. They make little or nothing on pure compute power, but since you don't have low level hardware access they can charge whatever the hell they want for things like extra IP's, DDoS protection, DC to DC peering, load balancing, auto scaling. You give massive discounts to new players using these systems and inevitably some of these will become the next Uber or Netflix. Then you are free to charge whatever exhoribitant rates you please once it's so impractical to move that it would require a major redesign of the business.

I see it a lot like franchising. By building on Amazon's cloud services you become "Uber company brought to you by Amazon". Like franchising, your upside is limited because any owner with a significant share of total franchises will begin to put pressure on the service owner itself.


To be honest, you sound like conspiracy nut hell bent on hating the Cloud. Maybe you should try taking a deep breath, and try to open up to the possibility that the Cloud is actually a good thing, and Cloud providers aren't the illuminati trying to "lock you in". Well maybe they are. Of course every cloud provider wants you to use their services.

But any "lock in" is totally up to you. Take a look at this: https://kubernetes.io/

You can architect your system in a way that it'll run on any cloud provider. All the major Cloud Providers support kube for orchestration.

To be honest I don't think you know what you're talking about. You should refrain from making uninformed opinions on hacker news, especially on a throwaway.


Did you ever read about how Netflix tried to run their own hardware but can't because they have so much data in AWS that it would basically bankrupt them to extract it?

Where did you read this? You can have Amazon send you a truck full of hard drives. I doubt it costs more than Netflix can afford.


Nevermind, I misremembered the story I read about them. They moved the main site to AWS with the huge omission of their movie streaming system. Their own Open Connect servers are far cheaper to use for this becuase of massive AWS outbound data costs.

Also, the truck is for data in, not data out. Getting data out of AWS is far more expensive than putting it in. That's the lock in.


The 'huge omission' is by design.

Also, the truck is for data in, not data out. Getting data out of AWS is far more expensive than putting it in. That's the lock in.

This is also not true. The bulk transfer service is bi-directional.


The Open Connect servers are for the edges, not the core.

They cache popular content close to the users, they don't manage their catalog at the edges.


You did not ever own your own globally consistent, massively scalable, replicated database. The fact that you can now rent one by the hour is strictly an improvement for you, if you need that kind of thing.


Cassandra also does that without requiring the "magic" of a system you can only get from a single vendor and never buy. At the same time these walled gardens have come up free software has grown to fill the gaps


Cassandra is sort of a Bigtable without transactions. It is not comparable to Spanner at all.


Spanner is unique in a lot of ways, but it still trades off consistency for speed.

The most unique thing about spanner is the use of globally synchronized clock timestamps to guarantee "comes before" consistency without the need to actually synchronize everything.

There is nothing stopping startups and open source developers from building the same thing in a few years. The missing ingredient is highly stable GPS and local time sources which will hopefully be available on cloud instances sometime soon. This is a new piece of hardware so it will be interesting to see if cloud providers make one available or use the opportunity to sell their own branded "service" version you can't buy. Unfortunately I think we'll see the latter far before the former, it it ever even exists. Without a highly stable timesource doing what spanner does will be completely impossible.

Yes spanner is special right now but that's even more reason to not go near it. Google has a complete monopoly on it, the strongest vendor lock in you can possibly have


> This is a new piece of hardware

Only "new" in the sense that it is currently not commonly offered, the devices themselves have been available for ages. (If you are a large enough customer you apparently can get at least some colo-facilities to provide you with the roof-access and cabling needed for the antennas). If cloud providers make precise time available I don't see much potential for locking you in with their specific way of providing it, as long as it ends up as precise system time in some way.


I'm saying I doubt they will ever offer it precisely because it will conflict with their paid offerings. The fact that it takes its hardware is a great excuse to not give your customers the option.

I know GPS time sources have been available forever but a fault tolent database needs a backup. The US GPS is incredibly reliable but there have been multiple issues with both Glonass and Galilio.

It sounds like Google has an additional time source making this possible, probably a highly miniaturized atomic clock, possibly on a single chip. There's no way they're running on GPS alone


Yes, they clearly say that they use atomic clocks in addition, but that's commercially available as well. Atomic clock for frequency stability short- to mid-term, GPS to keep it synced to global time. E.g. in many cases, mobile-phone base stations contain just such a setup, and the data-center versions should fit in a few HE.


And then all you need is a team of 12 full time SREs to manage it.


A system build on top of it? Possibly, but thats the trade-off if you don't want to pay for/be lock-in to somebody else running it. For just the timing stuff: not really. Of course it adds complexity, but these things are established and should be quite stable.




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