Samsung stepped away from its usual strategy of building intellectual property (IP) in-house by announcing yesterday that it was buying cloud provider and container pioneer Joyent for an undisclosed sum, but one that should, by all accounts, be significantly less than the $26 billion that Satya Nadella promised to LinkedIn earlier this week. The move makes sense for Samsung, which up until now has been heavily dependent on Amazon Web Services (AWS) to provide its cloud infrastructure and services.
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While AWS is certainly an enterprise-grade provider of cloud Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) and a long list of related cloud services, it's also expensive and probably not as responsive as Samsung needs. Additionally, Samsung isn't looking at its underlying cloud platform for run-of-the-mill infrastructure and app hosting. Rather, it wants to specialize in building and delivering broad-scale, consumer-grade mobile solutions. For that, container technology is currently the favored solution and, while Amazon supports containers, Joyent has been out front with that tech for much longer.
Not only is Joyent known for specializing in Node.js development, it also has an object Storage-as-a-Service (SaaS) solution called Manta. It's this solution that Joyent CTO Bryan Cantrill claims Samsung tested with keen interest, asking deep questions about its scalability when combined with Triton, Joyent's cutting-edge Containers-as-a-Service (CaaS) offering.
"Samsung started asking some very probing questions about our Manta object storage system," Cantrill wrote in a blog post. "Clearly savvy, they started testing Manta and our Triton Container-as-a-Service solution aggressively." According to Cantrill, that testing focused specifically on attributes of scale.
Samsung went slightly further in its press release concerning the acquisition, stating that it was interested in Joyent because of that company's "unique combination of container-native infrastructure, object storage, server-less computing, and Node.js expertise." This makes sense given Samsung's announced intention of using Joyent to power its growing mobile IP business, which will include not only new mobile app solutions, but also Internet of Things (IoT) technologies and a variety of consumer-grade forays into smart homes and even connected vehicles.
What makes Joyent attractive to a company looking to build such products isn't just that Triton and Manta sound like a new superhero duo, it's the combination of mobile app expertise via Node.js and the ability to innovate around containers and scalable object storage. The future of containers is exploding, with companies like ContainerX, Microsoft, and VMware pushing it hard as a useful virtualization variant for enterprises. But the technology is especially well-suited to delivering high-scale mobile apps because of its ability to quickly virtualize dedicated app environments and elastically scale them, without the need for server or hypervisor overhead. That means providers using containers can develop new apps faster and then provision those app containers much more quickly—capabilities that are key when serving a customer base as large as Samsung's.
Joyent is a solid choice for Samsung, as the 11-year-old company has both innovation experience and pioneering chops in building a variety of solutions based on container technology. Its key executives, notably CEO Scott Hammond (formerly of Cisco), CTO Bryan Cantrill, and VP of Product Bill Fine, will join Samsung's executives branch, and will work on integrating Joyent's capabilities across Samsung's cloud initiatives.