Apple sends the Mac to the cloud and Amazon immediately sniffs the deal

Apple sends the Mac to the cloud and Amazon immediately sniffs the deal

The latest version of the operating system allows you to leverage it as a virtual resource in the cloud. 28 million developers can be won over: a deal on which Amazon has launched

Apple Floating Store | Credit: Javan Ng, via Twitter (screenshot) In November, in a bold post, Brian Stucki of MacStadium showed his happiness for a small change of the license to use macOS Big Sur, the new version of Apple's operating system that works on both Intel-based and Apple Silicon-based Macs. A party that did not last long, however, because it was immediately ruined by Amazon web services, the cloud division of the ecommerce giant. But let's go in order.

Brian in his post explained that Apple had finally added a paragraph, the sixteenth, in which he authorized the hosting of his operating system (and therefore of the Macs) legitimizing the work more than ten years of MacStadium and its acquired Macminicolo.

The two companies, later merged into one, have offered since the Mac mini has existed (ie since 2005) the possibility of using this small and compact computer, presented by Steve Jobs in January 2005 as "the cheapest and most affordable Mac ever", as a network resource for hosting a website or other network services. With data centers in Las Vegas, Palo Alto, Atlanta, Dublin and Frankfurt, MacStadium has grown over time along with the synergy created by Apple between its two main products: Mac on one side and iPhone / iPad on the other.

(Photo: Apple)

The business of development

The iOs / iPadOs devices are those that produce value for the company both in terms of sales volumes and turnover deriving from the app store. This is known, but another constraint imposed by Apple in relation to the app store that allows the company to bill even more is less known: the development of apps must necessarily pass from the integrated development environment Xcode, which works only on Mac . Therefore, the tens of millions of iPhone and iPad app developers must have at least one Mac to “build” (ie compile) and upload apps to the store. There are no alternatives.

Developers typically use individual computers for all activities of code creation and local testing, and servers that are used for managing the code repository and for "builds" compilation and submission of the app on Apple's servers. These local servers are typically Mac minis, which have the right balance between cost and power. MacStadium (and Macminicolo) have exploited this market opportunity over the years by offering computers as a cloud resource for millions of iOs developers, mobile app test teams and DevOps engineers around the world.

The state of the cloud

The MacStadium business would still have remained a footnote in the history of the IT business if in the meantime the software production methods, both app and web, had not changed. The cloud native paradigm and DevOps approach, combined with continuous development strategies (continuous integration, continuous deployment) have become one of the main models for developers around the world and have been made possible by Amazon's cloud services with AWS, Google and Microsoft with Azure (plus other smaller players like Digital Ocean) and services like those offered by GitHub (now owned by Microsoft) and innovative companies like Netlify with its “JamStack“ approach.

In all this, whether it is apps or websites (in reality, real complete applications, divided between performing front-end and service back-end (according to the dictates of JamStack), remained the anomaly of the Apple ecosystem. for that environment, that of apps now converging into a single model based on Xcode and Apple Silicon processors, required a completely different approach that cannot be automated and scaled in the cloud. How to do it?

A but Amazon Gazette (Photo by Paul Hennessy / NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Boomerang Effect

For years MacStadium has been lobbying with Apple to obtain a form recognition in the license under which it was explicitly authorized use of hosted macOs. This basically meant giving a more solid legal basis to MacStadium's activities and allowing listed companies, which must justify all choices made to shareholders, to use MacStadium's services.

The company , while on the one hand pushed Apple for this to happen, on the other hand it prepared more complex services such as Orka, a variant of Kubernetes for Apple, private clouds based on macOs and hosting of individual Mac mini.

Coordinating with Apple at the end Brian Stucki celebrated the release of the new user license that in fact legitimizes his work: “In case it is not clear this fact is extraordinary for me. They could have titled the new section "After our beloved Brian" and it wouldn't have been out of tune even a bit. Not even a bit ".

The troublemaker

Stucki's post is from last November 11th. Let's jump forward a few days and change perspective: let's go to the virtual version (causa covid) of Aws re: invent, the annual event for Amazon web services developers, where the news and strategies for the year are presented that will come of Amazon's cloud arm. The event is held as usual in early December and this year there is an extra surprise: the CEO Andy Jassy among the various new announcements also signals the entry into operation of new Amazon EC2 Mac instances.

Taking advantage of the opportunity of the new license and realizing that there is a "hidden" market made from the dark matter of the code compiled for the iOs / iPadOs app, Amazon decides to go straight in and makes a pact with Apple that burns with a three-decade collaboration signature of little Davide destined to succumb in front of the Goliath of Seattle.

The video of the announcement shows the arrival of a truck full of Mac minis that are being delivered to an Amazon data center and that become the "engine" of this new Ec2 function, so far available for Windows and Linux.

"Speaking with our customers - says David Brown, Aws Ec2 vice president - we have grasped the need for their Apple's development environment was integrated with AWS services. With Mac instances of EC2, developers can now deliver and access on-demand macOs computing environments in AWS for the first time ever, so they can focus on building innovative applications for Apple's industry-leading platforms rather than on purchasing and managing the underlying infrastructure. "

Translated from corporate jargon, this means that Amazon enters the industry and probably crushes MacForum, especially since the company offers a much broader product portfolio that not the only compute instances based on macOs. And therefore it is overall more attractive to customers. But how many potential users of the service are there?

This is explained by Bob Borchers, Apple's vice president of Worldwide Product Marketing, who collaborated closely with Amazon on the project: “The thriving Apple community, made up of over 28 million of developers, continue to create innovative apps that benefit customers around the world. With the launch of Mac Ec2 instances, we are excited to enable Apple's Mac application development on accessible platforms in new ways, and to combine the performance and reliability of our world-class hardware with the scalability of AWS. ”

So much for the love letter to Brian Stucki. But after all, business is business. Now Aws customers, explains the company, "can seamlessly provide and access computing in macOs environments to enjoy convenient, distributed testing and rapid application creation, bringing additional choice so they can use Mac as a platform. trusted, on-premise or in the cloud ”. Customers, the release continues, "can also consolidate the development of Apple, Windows and Android cross-platform applications on AWS, leading to increased developer productivity and accelerated time-to-market".

The consequence of the second order

If Apple has entered the crosshairs of Amazon and the two companies have agreed to a record supply of Mac mini (for now with Intel processor but soon with M1 processor on Apple Silicon Arm derivation) what does it mean? The most logical explanation is that, beyond the millionaire business opportunity for the thousands of end-of-line Mac mini sold and probably bought at a big discount, there is also the recognition of millions of potential users of the service on the one hand and the need (from Apple's point of view) to rejuvenate its offering by using a specialized cloud provider like AWS to do something Apple's cloud technology can't. But above all, all this shows that Apple has become a player of the Serie A in the world of software and that with Apple Silicon it could have a further explosion in the market.

Powered by Blogger.