Joyent's differentiator, Hoffman says, is its integrated stack. SmartOS is not just an operating system, but also a networking fabric and hypervisor -- it uses KVM. He describes it as analogous to a large-scale storage area network (SAN), with an integrated network between compute and data layers that run virtual machines directly on it. "We completely collapse the model into a single hardware design," he says. By doing this, new customers are easily onboarded to the cloud, with each new customer site added to Joyent's network being like the equivalent of adding another availability zone in AWS's system.
Hoffman says Joyent is cheaper and offers more compute for the buck compared to AWS. A pricing comparison chart on the company's website shows that Joyent prices are between 6% and 29% less compared to prices of similarly sized VM instance types in AWS's cloud.
Reese, the cloud consultant, says Joyent seems to have a dedicated user base, but it is still a niche play in the market. "They don't have a ton of features, but the features they do have perform really well," Reese says. VMs come up fast and are predictable and reliable, he says, based on testing he's done within enStratus for customers using Joyent's cloud.
Joyent seems optimized for customers that run large, complex, cloud-native apps in Joyent's cloud, apps from which developers want high visibility and highly reliable performance, Reese says. The focus on its core features leaves some wanting, though. Joyent doesn't have a database as a service feature, for example, nor does it have nearly the breadth of services offered by AWS or Rackspace. Ultimately, that could provide a challenge for Joyent significantly biting into Amazon or Rackspace's dominating market share.
Joyent is continuing to develop its products and company, though. The release of Joyent7 is about enabling "seamless hybrid cloud," Hoffman says. The new OS furthers LDAP integration and adds a catalog of APIs, specifically around workflow management, image management and security groups.
In addition to announcing Joyent7, the company also appointed a new CEO, Henry Wasik, formerly president and CEO of Force10 Networks, to lead the company.