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AWS Blox enters crowded open source container market amid skepticism

While much of the developer community turns to Kubernetes to schedule containers, open source AWS Blox could carve out a niche among container and serverless users.

AWS has a record of launching services that enterprises want. But this tactic doesn't work for all cloud providers....

Development teams within larger enterprise players don't always have the freedom to innovate or test out new ideas.

Take, for example, AWS Blox. This open source project provides services that enable AWS users to consume an event stream to track and schedule container clusters. But considering that Blox has entered an already crowded container space, many cloud professionals are scratching their heads as to its impending success. Blox fills some needs of Amazon EC2 Container Service (Amazon ECS) users that have clamored for a native container scheduler -- without having to integrate non-native platforms, such as Google's Kubernetes and Apache Mesos. Blox also includes a daemon scheduler that can run one copy of a task on each container instance within a cluster. This one-per-container approach enables them to process logs and collect metrics.

Blox is available from GitHub, but AWS hasn't provided the source code to an open source organization, in which groups of people can argue over what features or functions to include in the next release. Because AWS is not traditionally an open source contributor, this move has some experts questioning the true open source nature of the service. While Amazon will be a player in the container orchestration market, Blox might struggle to find a user base.

Perhaps AWS has another plan for Blox.

Given the rise in popularity of AWS Lambda, AWS Blox could be a player in serverless computing technology.

Given the rise in popularity of AWS Lambda, AWS Blox could be a player in serverless computing technology. Schedulers, which stop and start processing for a resource and work with serverless- and microservices-based applications, could be the next development rage after containers.

AWS Blox can still win developer hearts and minds -- if the cloud provider's real focus is on Lambda. Blox is likely part of a larger strategy in which AWS owns both the cloud-based serverless and container spaces. Currently, there's no relevant open source equivalent to Lambda, Google Cloud Functions or Microsoft Azure Functions. And with Lambda dominating the serverless market, Blox could become a de facto scheduler through AWS' support; it's also easier to use than non-native schedulers.

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This might be the rare case where a late entry in the scheduler market wins the day, simply because of who built it. And whether or not Blox is open source, having AWS support backing the service likely will lead to increased use among developers.

If the majority of AWS users continue to run Kubernetes on AWS, it will be telling how long the public cloud vendor sticks with Blox. While it’s not likely that AWS ditches Blox altogether, there is a risk that it could find the service is no longer part of its overall strategy. If that happens, developers and enterprise IT shops that adopted Blox will need to find another scheduler.

On the contrary, the service could morph into something that's built into native cloud services that work with developer-preferred approaches. Still, this is all about billing for cloud services -- and AWS will win either way.

Next Steps

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This was last published in June 2017

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