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InfoQ Homepage News Samsung Acquires Cloud Provider Joyent

Samsung Acquires Cloud Provider Joyent

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Samsung has acquired Joyent, the public cloud provider positioning itself as a container-native cloud platform. The buyout gives Samsung an immediate cloud presence, and the potential to build an integrated back-end platform to support its consumer-facing devices. For Joyent, there is the potential for rapid growth if Samsung invest to expand the reach of the service. As Forbes observes, potentially the biggest attraction for both parties is the ability to offer an end-to-end experience in the Internet of Things space: “IoT is expected to be at the center of Samsung’s strategy”.

Wired described Joyent as 'the best-kept secret in cloud computing'. Its platform offering is narrower than market leaders like AWS and Azure, who provide a whole stack including message queues and databases. Joyent only offers object storage and compute, but the compute stack is its differentiator. On the Joyent cloud you can run Linux-based VMs, containers or serverless compute functions, and they all run directly on the company's open-source Triton DataCenter software, without any intermediate virtualization layers.

For Joyent customers who value that flexible compute offering, which includes support for Docker with a pay-per-container billing model, the Samsung acquisition should lead to an expansion of the Joyent cloud. Currently it runs from four data centers, three in the US and one in Europe. Scott Hammond, CEO of Joyent, is clear on his goal for expansion: “We'll be building data centers around the globe.”

Those data centers will be filled with machines running SmartOS, Joyent’s proprietary, but open-source, operating system built on Solaris. The choice of Solaris over a Linux distribution comes from Joyent’s engineering history – many of the team worked at Sun Microsystems. With Solaris comes Solaris Zones, a containerization technology that pre-dates Docker by almost ten years. A container-native cloud offering has always been Joyent’s proposition, even if that meant being – as Bryan Cantrill, CTO of Joyent said - “In the right place at the wrong time for an extended period of time”.

Containers-as-a-Service offer the potential for huge scale with high efficiency, which is what you need for the service side of an IoT offering. The IoT proposition may take longer to realise, but it could put the Samsung/Joyent partnership in a pre-eminent position. Samsung already has the Artik program which pairs hardware modules with cloud services, but right now that’s backed by AWS. Samsung can now look to migrating the back-end to Joyent, providing its subsidiary with an anchor tenant, and removing a dependency on Amazon.

Samsung also has the possibility of centralizing the client software stack. Artik modules currently run a variety of operating systems and development platforms, including Fedora, C++ and Java. If you want to build a range of devices based on Artik, you may need multiple forks of your own software for different types of module. Joyent brings years of experience with Node.js (it was the project’s custodian before creating the Node.js Foundation), so it would make sense to build the Artik development platform on Node.js.

Andrew Reichman of 451 Research suggested the end goal for Samsung is to control the end-to-end product stack and own the data: "They see their future being defined not by manufacturing the devices but by connecting the devices and analyzing their usage and providing content for them".

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