Cloud Agnostic

Last week Apple announced it was moving some of its iCloud storage to Google’s cloud from Amazon. Earlier this month Dropbox moved from AWS to their own cloud hardware. The motives for both these moves are to get off of someone else’s cloud and and on to their own1. But it does bring up a good point for all hosted development, try and be as cloud agnostic as possible because you never know what you might have to do.

Early on in WeoGeo’s life, we had a product called WeoCEO. You won’t find too much about it but it was WeoGeo’s way of managing S3, EC2 instances and balancing traffic. WeoGeo created this because Amazon’s EC2 tools weren’t robust enough to handle a business yet and WeoGeo didn’t know how AWS might turn out. The point of WeoCEO was it could be staged in any CentOS environment and handle the WeoGeo database, geoprocessing and websites. In theory that would have allowed WeoGeo to easily move off of AWS and on to Azure, Google or Rackspace. WeoGeo abandoned WeoCEO and started using AWS’s native tools because it made it easier to work with new technology such as Cloudfront, new storage solutions and database options. While there was zero chance WeoGeo would move off of AWS, having such a tool could have made it easier for the WeoGeo platform to be integrated into other technology.

All this got me thinking about my current hosting GIS systems. I’ve got some on AWS and some on Azure. Could I move from one provider to the other and how much work would it be? Most of my stack isn’t proprietary to one or the other system2. Node.js, PostgreSQL and other open technology runs really well on just about any hosted system out there. But there is somewhat proprietary cloud technology out there you can lock yourself into.

I don’t think that everyone needs to develop their own WeoCEO type management system3 but making pragmatic choices with how to deploy cloud applications can pay itself back in spades. I have clients who want their applications on AWS or Azure and I can’t deploy the same application there with little effort, but keeping it that way requires planning and a will to be cloud agnostic. I’ve always liked the term and I’ve always tried to prototype and develop applications that aren’t locked into to infrastructure. I’d love to keep it that way and you should too.

  1. In Dropbox’s case, they have already done so 

  2. Even my Azure stuff is all PostGIS and Node.js 

  3. Clearly even we didn’t stick with it