I have been covering a number of cloud-related topics on this blog for a number of reasons. Above all, I believe that mainstream IT administrators and managers need to be aware of these technologies even if you are not actively experimenting with them. In this blog, I want to showcase some differences between one of the Amazon Web Services (AWS) offerings — the Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) — and VMware’s new vCloud Express beta offering.

vCloud Express was announced publicly during VMworld 2009 in San Francisco. This announcement is somewhat of an expected progression for both cloud offerings and VMware. The Amazon EC2 cloud is based on Citrix XenServer technology for server instances, and a VMware offering in the cloud is the next natural step. Above all else, vCloud Express is targeted right at EC2.

Pricing and offerings

Their pricing is very similar, but I will say that vCloud Express has more options related to instance provisioning. These are details such as number of CPU cores assigned to the instance, which would enumerate as processors in the operating systems. Other options are for specific quantities of RAM to assign to the server, which slides the pricing scale. The pricing models do not align directly, but EC2 instances start at $.10 per hour and vCloud Express instances start at $.036 per hour. EC2 offers some discounts for 1- or 3-year subscriptions that will bring the hourly price offerings down to a rate of $0.03 per hour for Linux instances. vCloud Express offers a monthly subscription for Windows licensing offerings as well.

AWS does not explicitly charge for the public IP addresses (Elastic IP addresses), but vCloud Express charges $.01 per hour for a public IP address. Likewise, vCloud Express charges $.01 per hour external Internet access for the workload -– which includes some additional features such as load balancing, which is not available on EC2.

AWS has a comparatively limited operating system offering from the pre-bundled instances. vCloud Express, however, has a broader offering –- including Windows Server 2008 instances, which are not yet available on EC2.

Intra-Cloud federation and the future

AWS wins this one currently, as it is more mature in the space with other offerings. The Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3), Virtual Private Cloud, and Simple Queue Service, for example, are other cloud components that vCloud Express doesn’t yet offer. vCloud Express allows basic storage attachment to server instances, yet the S3 cloud is a separate cloud that is API driven.

To be fair, vCloud Express is still a beta, and you can bet that features will be lined up to go up against AWS for the long battle that will be cloud technology. Has vCloud Express sparked more interest in cloud technologies for you or your organization? If so, share a comment below.