A Refreshing call with GigaSpaces

Steve and I had an interesting and refreshingly different cGigaSpaces Architectureall this morning with GigaSpaces.

They had reached out to us to make sure we knew all about them so that they could be fully represented in each of the categories in our cloud computing market landscape / segmentation / taxonomy where they have a solution.

And after the call I can see that instead of just being in

  • Cloud Software / Compute

They also have a valid claim to

  • Cloud Software / Data

and may be even

  • Cloud Software / Cloud Management ( /Application Services Management )

This raised a bit of a dilemma for me. I certainly want to represent vendors and providers accurately in the segmentation model but I want to avoid vendors appearing in lots of different segments just because they believe that some esoteric feature or other qualifies them.

Instead I want the segmentation model to reflect where the vendor/provider specifically and actively addresses a market need with a specific capability and value proposition. So if I hear from a vendor/provider “yes we can do that too”, I’m reluctant to simply add them to a segment. After all the motivation behind producing the segmentation model was to remove some of the confusion present in the Cloud Computing not to perpetuate it.

So I think we’ll need to reflect on what we heard this morning from GigaSpaces and think how best to represent those vendors in our market segmentation document that have a single product with broad capabilities. Having said that I think there is enough about the XAP proposition that means I will be adding it to at least one more segment of the market landscape.

Anyway, the refreshing part of the call was that GigaSpaces’ marketing seems to focus on what they can do for organisations rather than simply placing the “Cloud Computing” term before, after and in the middle of their product name everywhere it appears. In fact you have to go digging on their web site to find references to the cloud-enablement features of their product line. I’m not sure whether they have taken this approach consciously or if it is that they’re not sure how best to position their offering in the cloud market. The risk I guess is that as they are not positioned specifically as a cloud computing vendor, they may not be placed on clients’ long lists. But it certainly differentiates them and different is usually good unless you’re selling 8-fingered gloves.

These calls with vendors are useful for many reasons but mainly to test some of my assumptions. As with many of the products and companies I have looked at in compiling the segmentation model, I had “assumed” that I knew what the product was and what it did. It turns out there are many more strings to XAP’s bow than I had at first realised. I knew GigaSpaces as a purveyor of extremely scalable application servers but that, it turns out, is only half the picture.

One interesting feature of GigaSpaces’ XAP product is its application services management layer (my term not theirs – they use application management services!). This layer understands service level commitments for the infrastructure as well as the applications that are deployed to it. It’s common practice for the infrastructure to “understand” the service level that is expected from the infrastructure itself – usually measured in CPU percentages, data volumes or some such. However it’s not so common for the infrastructure to understand the commitment that the application developer has made about the service level that the application will deliver. These application layer service levels are usually described in some business metric and to then have the infrastructure react to automatically provision more infrastructure to meet the business’ requirements to ensure that application SLA commitments are met is a certainly an interesting claim. One that we will dig into a little further over time. GigaSpaces’ Jim Liddle explains a little more here – whist also picking a fight with TIBCO over whether its claim that “self-aware elasticity” is something unique to Silver.

Interestingly, it appears that with a number of GigaSpaces recent Cloud Computing customer wins (they claim to have 75+ “cloud” customers) they have in fact used this application management services layer to control and manage Amazon’s EC2 infrastructure. This ability to manage application services outside of its own compute infrastructure goes some way to answering my rhetorical question of whether any vendors were focussed on providing a pure play layer for application services management. It appears that there are.

So I’ll make some changes to the segmentation model in light of our conversation this morning and I’ll also keep an eye on how GigaSpaces’ cloud proposition develops – specifically following their Platform as a Service partnership with ServePath’s Go-Grid announced earlier today.

Danny Goodall

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  1. Hi Danny

    Thanks for the detailed summary and feedback, i found it very useful.

    1. You are right to say that our cloud offering is not highlighted in our website as you would expect it to be. The main reason as you rightly pointed out is that cloud is over hyped. We didn’t wanted to put something at the front without first having real substance behind it. Now that we have good success stories, online offering that enables user to try out the product in one click on the cloud (gigaspaces.com/mycloud) we feel more comfortable to bring that part of our offering to the front end. So i agree with you that we should put it at the front end of our offering and that’s probably what your going to see in couple of weeks from now.

    “One interesting feature of GigaSpaces’ XAP product is its application services management layer (my term not theirs – they use application management services!)”

    I liked your term better:)

    Note that the idea behind all this is to bring operational awareness to the application. You can read more about it on one of my recent post: The Interactive Cloud (Part I)

    Nati S
    CTO & Founder GigaSpaces

    • Nati, thanks for taking the time to comment. I enjoyed your blog on the subject of The Interactive Cloud. I can’t disagree with anything you wrote but would ask what sort of application development effort would be required to build such sentient applications? Can existing applications be easily modified to take responsibility for their deployment infrastructure resources as you appear to advocate? Or are we looking at a new breed of applications, architected to understand their SLA commitments and the infrastructure required to meet them?

      Danny Goodall

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