Mosso come out fighting against S3 / Cloudfront with Cloudfiles and Limelight

Mosso are certainly not intent on letting Amazon have everything their own way, posting on their blog, Top 10 Reasons why Cloud Files + Limelight offers a better experience than S3 + CloudFront.

Competition is a great leveler and fuels innovation so I am glad to Mosso taking the lead here. The reasons that they give are reproduced below – I’d be interested in the thoughts of S3 / Cloudfront users as to whether these would make them consider moving across or what they think in general:

1.  World-class technical support is only one click away.

Live support, with real humans based right here in our offices, is available 24/7.  And they are really, really good!

2. World-class technical support is free.

Yes, free.  As in you don’t pay for it.  And it is really, really good support!

3. You can get started in as little as one minute.

Not a programmer?  Not a problem!  You do not have to know how to code to use Cloud Files + CDN!  Our simple web-based interface makes it a snap to share your content!

4. Limelight is a tier one CDN provider.

Really, Limelight is VERY cool, and one of the foremost CDN provider’s in the industry.  That’s why we chose to partner with them!

5. No API is required to share files.

Did we mention this already?  If so, it is worth mentioning again!

6. Language-specific APIs are available, if you need them.

Not everyone knows ReST and SOAP, so we’ve created and provide support for the following language APIs – PHP, Python, Java and .NET. We do this to allow you to work in the language you feel most comfortable with.

7. Pricing for data transfer does not vary depending on edge locations.

Data transfer starts at $0.22/GB, no matter what edge location is used to share your content. This should make it easier on you when you are trying to estimate your monthly bill.

8. There are no per requests fees for CDN.

Just another way we simplify your life, and your billing.

9. There is no limit to the number of CDN-enabled containers you can create.

As far as we can tell, you can only have up to 100 distributions in Amazon’s Cloud Front system. At Mosso, we try to keep these types of arbitrary limitations to a bare minimum, not just for Cloud Files, but for all of the services we offer.

10. The Cloud Files GUI is easy to use and navigate.

Our browser based GUI let’s you easily upload a file and share it on CDN without writing a single line of code.  Heck, you don’t even need to know a programmer to share content via Cloud Files!

What differentiates Mosso from EC2 ?

Having talked about Amazon being the only game in town I thought it would be interesting to look at Mosso and look at the advantages / differences between Mosso And Amazon:

From a technology perspective Mosso don’t provide root access to their severs. They  provide servers with the OS and software pre-installed. Mosso claims that this gives them ability to easily monitor and scale the service as needed which frees the end user from having to worry about OS, load balancing, etc. How does this work ? Well, Mosso abstract the actual platform that you are working against. From a practical perspective this means that you end up with a single directory space in which you store file types (PHP, .RoR,etc). If a files is requested it is actually executed by the native platform. What does this mean ? It means that if you are executing ASPX files they will be handled by Windows, and if you are executing  RoR files they will be  handled by Linux, etc).If you have combinations that don’t appear to be supported then support will enable this for you.

This leads us onto a good differentiator that Mosso has over Amazon, their customer service is 24*7 manned by people at the end of the phone unlike Amazon. This can make a world of difference when actually trying to get something to work and I have to say their customer service is excellent.

Mosso currently only offers FTP access to your instances . No RDP,  SSH etc, which of course you get with EC2 from Amazon. However right now, Amazon don’t really provide anything that competes with Mosso’s primary cloud offering whose value point are  providing load balanced Windows and Apache based web applications, as well as semi-load balanced SQL Server and mysql offerings. This is what Mosso call Cloud Sites. Automated load balancing is coming from Amazon, but is not there yet, and right now you have to roll your own.

There is no concept of sharing image instances with Mosso as the core concept is different aren’t working with 1 “virtual” instance but are really working with an interface that functions as a type of fascade to a potentially many instances. Having said that, Mosso are currently beta testing something they are calling “Cloud Servers” and it looks like this will be direct competition to EC2.
Update: Mosso Cloud Servers now goes live on March 16th. Pricing starts at $0.015/hour or $10.95/month. Check out the details here.They will also have an API. For a sneak look at the API email Mosso and ask . Also Cloud Files is out of beta on the 12th March 2009.  Cloud Files is Mosso’s online storage service and CDN enabled static content serving engine. It  has several new features. Check out all the details here.

Amazon has lots of extra services that they provide to interact with the cores instances  such as S3, SimpleDb, SQS, CloudFront etc, and whereas Mosso has Cloud Files it does not have the breadth or extent of services that Amazon provide.

Another differentiator is the billing services. Right now Amazon do not provide hard copy billing invoices ( a particular bug bear on the Amazon forums) which prevents many organisations from actually using Amazon, whereas Mosso do provide this.

All in all, Mosso is a good  cloud hosting solution. It’s value proposition is different from EC2 and whereas Amazon has more power and flexibility there is  definately room for the service Mosso provides which is likely to get many people up and running quicker. It lacks the ability to have pre-configured AMI instances, so I won’t be able to get a pre-installed and configured Hadoop instance, or whatever, which for some is one of the attractions of EC2, but for being able to quickly having web applicaitons configured and load balanced it is perfect.

Commercially it does not follow the granular utility compute model that Amazon provides, as it has  starter flat rate of $100 per month. This does include 50 GB storage space, 500 GB monthly bandwidth, 10,000 compute cycles, and also 24*7*365 live support chat.

So in summary Mosso has some unique differentiators:

– Different model that enables quick configuration and load balanced web applications

– 24*7*365 live support

– Hard copy Invoices

The way that Mosso is heading it provides a nice set of different features as well as some comparable offerings in the pipe that should ensure Amazon do not have everything their own way.