Much has been made about this week’s Amazon Web Services news, and for good reason. The introduction of Amazon RDS shed light on the growing prevalence of relational databases in the cloud, high-memory instances optimize EC2 for a new breed of workloads (including relational databases), and the 15 percent across-the-board price cut indicates that cloud-computing services are commoditizing, forcing providers to compete on features and price. But as important as these enhancements are, their effects on Amazon’s cloud business should pale in comparison to the effects that Joyent’s move into China will have on its business – and, potentially, the global cloud-computing market.
By becoming the first public cloud offering available in mainland China, Joyent has an opportunity to become the de facto cloud solution in a rapidly expanding economy that will rely on computing to achieve its goals. Already China is taking the lead in the development of green technologies, and now the world’s most-populous country is making a concerted effort to boost innovation in other high-tech sectors through a state-backed venture capital program. The web is still a burgeoning market in China, too, so there is plenty of need for infrastructure services that will take web apps and sites to the next level.
Chinese industry has shown a great interest in cloud computing, partnering with IBM on large-scale initiatives to power entire innovation parks, but this new generation of startups will need access to additional, more-flexible sources of cheap computing to maximize their innovative potential. Joyent is poised to step up and meet this need with a full range of cloud offerings.
A Chinese presence is particularly important to Joyent because the company’s cloud offerings have not caught on in the United States on par with competitive offerings from Amazon and Rackspace. According to Guy Rosen’s popular cloud-hosting statistics, Joyent lags far behind those two when it comes to running web sites, and Joyent certainly holds less mindshare than its publicly held foes. This is despite a cloud portfolio comprising IaaS, PaaS and private clouds, not to mention a broad range of performance-boosting features – including MySQL. In China, however, Joyent gets to play the role of Amazon by being first on the scene, and its cloud is much more mature than was EC2 when it broke into the U.S. market three years ago.
If Joyent is successful, other U.S. cloud providers losing the uphill battle against Amazon and Rackspace (and soon Microsoft, IBM and EMC) might attempt to establish international toeholds, too. It’s a big world, after all, and even the largest players can’t dominate in every geography (just ask Facebook).