Last week, I was at Hostingcon, a yearly Conference and Trade Show for Web Hosting and Cloud Service Providers, which took place in Austin, TX. I had the chance to represent iWeb and share my thoughts about How to Build a Cloud on a panel discussion with Ditlev from OnApp, Rob from Dell (also sitting on the Openstack board), Tony from Flexiant and Ryan from Microsoft on a panel that discussed the technologies, pitfalls and challenges of building a Cloud.

Hostingcon Cloud Panel

My view on the subject was that Cloud Platforms are gaining maturity and that in order to Build a Cloud today you should build it on top of an existing platform. Whether you are going to choose Openstack, OnApp, Microsoft, Cloudstack, Flexiant, Open Nebula or another platform will mostly depend on your expertise, the expertise you have in-house or the expertise you expect you will be able to find.

iWeb built its own Cloud Platform about three years ago. The efforts where rewarded with the success of the product but keeping the software technology up to date has proven to be a hard task for an infrastructure company. The Open Source and Commercial platforms quickly evolved into mature and full-featured solutions and this pushed iWeb to rethink its strategy and move to a model where it will build unique features and implementations on top of an available cloud platform. Today, it is moving into an Openstack strategy while also experimenting with other cloud platforms. I think it’s the way to go and it is still full of challenges for the in-house development teams that should focus on building what I call emotional lock-in, creating an integrated experience, making sure all product flavors work together and building a unique frontend and user experience on the platform.

I didn’t see many people from Montreal down at Hostingcon. Beside iWeb’s delegation, I did walk into François Lane from Cakemail which counts on various hosting providers (Funio, iWeb’s Shared Hosting Division is a Cakemail partner) to resell his Montreal-Baked newsletter and mailing list management product. No trace of Cloudops, Sherweb or other local providers this year … unless I missed them.

I feel Montreal’s Web Hosting industry is a bit quiet these days. We should have more hosting and cloud services providers representing at Industry Events and it makes me wonder who do Montreal-Startups use as their hosting provider? Do you use mostly USA based providers? Is Amazon Web Services the way to go for you or is it too technical? I guess some of you use iWeb, but it is still mostly dedicated. Are you looking for more virtualization and cloud hosting options from Montreal providers? Do you prefer colocation, dedicated, shared or virtual hosting? It would be interesting to know!

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  • Ian Rae


    Great article!

    CloudOps has never participated at hosting conferences since we are a services business focused on cloud platform architecture, building and ongoing operations. We either know or work with most of the companies you mention. We have consulted for and built cloud services for well known hosting companies.

    CloudOps has invested a lot in the cloud sector long before it was popular, you’ll see us at most of the cloud and big data conferences. We’ve been heavily involved in Cloud Connect, Interop’s Enterprise Cloud Summit and O’Reilly Strata. CloudOps Research publishes studies and whitepapers on cloud computing (see ) and we frequently keynote at cloud conferences.

    The distinction between the hosting industry and cloud computing has been a confusing one, especially as the word “cloud” has become all encompassing. Over time we expect that traditional hosting (as well as traditional IT in our opinion) will be replaced by cloud services and this is why we see that cloud platforms are now widely recognized as the future of the hosting industry!

    I’m glad for your call to action on participation, it is true that not enough Canadian let alone Montreal companies make it out to industry conferences, but I think involvement is necessary for us to develop some real leadership in our sector. CloudOps was a bit lonely at cloud computing conferences from 2008-2011 but that has improved significantly in the last 2 years.


    • Martin

      Ian, isn’t is all the same? I don’t think there’s a Cloud sector and a Hosting sector. Orchestrators and Virtualization existed long before we talked about cloud. Hosting is Cloud and Cloud is Hosting.

      • Ian Rae

        Its a good question. I think the term cloud has basically evolved since 2006-2007 to become as generic as “internet” or “web” and in that sense all “hosting” is “cloud” but keep in mind not all that is “cloud” is “hosting”. That said, cloud computing as AWS invented it was a truly novel approach to right-sizing infrastructure for web scale companies. The ideas that all features should be available via a REST-ful API, on-demand and self-service with hourly metering and billing, rapid scale-up and scale-down with the promise/illusion of unlimited capacity, all of this took the hosting industry off-guard. I think AWS has been competing with hosting, for the interesting customers and I’m not sure any hosting company has managed to provide anything nearly as compelling to web-scale businesses, but most are trying hard to be able to provide services to customers who are shopping for web-scale cloud platforms for running their businesses.

        • Martin

          Makes sense :-)

  • Stéphane

    We have recently switched some of our operations to MS Azure (on the west coast I think). It has some great advantages, mostly that it adds an abstraction layer that relieves us of operating servers (god I hate that!). However, there are some area that are not good enough for us to use in production so we still need dedicated servers. Especially for the databases. Maybe it’s the way we use the cloud, but it’s not working as smoothly as we would have thought.

    If we could find similar service as Azure in Montreal (or Quebec city, why not!), we would sure have a look at it. Hosting being a critical part of our business, having a partner not too far is a must-have.

    • Martin

      Stephane, you are using the Compute/Virtual Machines service of Azure? It’s interesting to hear about Azure and not Amazon. Why have you chosen Azure? About the dedicated server for database, I believe that’s a perfect cloud usage scenario and more and more providers are building hybrid environments where virtual machines are used with dedicated servers and where you choose the resources you needed (virtual vs dedicated) according to your workload. Softlayer’s platform is a very good exemple of a platform that allows to do this (and they are being aquired by IBM for about $2.1B).

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