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AWS Marketplace: The Missing Link?

Written by Gillian Gover - 28 august 2012

A couple of months ago, AWS launched a new Marketplace where customers can find cloud software and launch it directly on AWS. The Marketplace now includes a few hundred AMIs (Amazon Machine Images) ranging from base OS images, to LAMP stacks up to fully-fledged business application stacks.

Here at UShareSoft, we're pretty excited by the AWS Marketplace. That does sound like an awful canned PR quote. But really: we are. Our mission has always been to simplify software delivery and the new AWS Marketplace is designed to do exactly that. We believe that the number of application marketplaces will expand massively in the future, reaching hundreds or thousands of stores catering to different verticals, individual country requirements, various ISV ecosystems and much more.

However, the AWS Marketplace in its current incarnation, does have certain limitations, and one of those is a lack of tooling.

Unlike Apple's App Store, AWS offers few tools to help application designers – developers and ISVs – package their software as a complete stack ready for the Marketplace. Developers only have access to a series of guidelines for selling software on the marketplace, instructions on how to build an AMI by hand, and a few command-line tools for encrypting, bundling and registering their AMI. What're more, despite the fact that AWS requires Marketplace sellers to keep their software current and up to date, there are no guidelines or tools to help developers implement a consistent, repeatable process for updating their AMI with new releases, patches, bug fixes etc.

In the same vein, AWS doesn't provide any tools that allow end users to easily customize Marketplace AMIs if specific components don't suit their needs. These users need to manually adapt the AMI, then re-encrypt, bundle and register a new AMI. This has a real impact on organizations needing to maintain software governance. How do they ensure that software components running on AWS are consistent with components running in their datacenter or other public cloud? How do IT departments encourage their users to work with corporate-approved applications? How do companies ensure they meet security requirements or comply with government and other regulations?

So what's needed to overcome these limitations?

A good start would be tooling that offers developers two things: software modeling and automation.

Software modeling provides the ability for a developer to model his or her entire software stack as a template, from individual OS packages right up to the application level. This template can then be easily updated with new releases and patches. Once the template has been created, it's easy to generate and re-generate AMIs.

Automation is equally important: not just automating the maintenance and updates of the software stack to ensure that developers can consistently and repeatably create error-free AMIs. But also automating the process of encrypting, bundling and registering the AMI to AWS. Only by automating these steps, can users take full advantage of the on-demand nature of the AWS compute and storage infrastructure.

A second step would be to review the nature of the application marketplace itself and allow developers to publish their template, rather than a fully baked AMI. By offering the same tooling to end users, you ensure that they can quickly swap components in and out to obtain a stack that meets their needs exactly for consistency and software governance.

For developers and ISVs wishing to sell their software through the AWS Marketplace, there is an application process in place. Unfortunately, we can't help you with that! But we can help you put the tools and processes in place to ensure the software you want to sell is ready for AWS, first time and every time.

If you're interested, why not check out our ISV Partner Program, and download UForge Builder to get started? Then come back soon for a detailed post about assembling and publishing your software to AWS.


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Classified in : Cloud Computing - Tags : aws, aws marketplace, application marketplace, cloud computing, usharesoft


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