I've gotten a lot of feedback on parts one and two of this three-part series on "The Three Revolutions of Cloud Computing." This series is based on my perspective that cloud computing represents the next major platform shift in computing, and will undoubtedly impose as much change as previous shifts like client/server or the rise of the Web. In parts one and two I focused on the changes cloud computing will cause in IT operations and application funding patterns. Now I'd like to turn to the changes cloud computing will cause in applications - and, to be blunt - those changes will be enormous.
Stories by Bernard Golden
Last week, I wrote about the first of cloud computing's revolutions: the revolution in IT operations. This week I want to turn to the revolution that will occur because of the changed nature of cost in a cloud computing environment. In the Berkeley RAD Lab report on cloud computing, it identifies "pay-as-you-go pricing" as a key characteristic of cloud computing. Pay-as-you-go pricing refers to the fact that computing resources in a cloud environment are typically charged for on a fine-grained usage basis.
Every revolution results in winners and losers -- after the dust settles. During the revolution, chaos occurs as people attempt to discern if this is the real thing or just a minor rebellion. All parties put forward their positions, attempting to convince onlookers that theirs is the path forward. Meanwhile, established practices and institutions are disrupted and even overturned -- perhaps temporarily or maybe permanently. Eventually, the results shake out and it becomes clear which viewpoint prevails and becomes the new established practice -- and in its turn becomes the incumbent, ripe for disruption.
Last week I wrote about the impact cloud computing will have on IT operations. I noted that the increasing scale of data dramatically changes the expectations of how data centers are operated. This week I want to turn to how cloud computing affects IT application architectures, specifically examining the flip side of the coin of data growth: application load.
Just before the holidays I had a really interesting conversation with my friend Bill Takacs, who works at Gear6. It is a company that offers memcached appliances, used in applications that have very high data loads that preclude using a database as the primary means of data access. He shared with me a common pattern he sees in companies that are heavy users of memcached, which, after some thought, I concluded offers a vision of the future of cloud computing operations.
A couple of weeks ago I was asked to moderate an HP-sponsored meeting on the subject of virtualization. Predictably, most of the discussion (attended by press and vendors including Citrix, Microsoft, Red Hat, and VMware) focused on cloud computing. It was a pretty lively session, but what I want to address here is an HP product portfolio called "IT Financial Management" that was discussed, along with its implications for cloud computing. As you might guess, the product focuses on financial analysis of IT operations, which is extremely relevant to the adoption of cloud computing.
You've probably seen a hundred-or even a thousand-articles criticizing cloud computing Service Level Agreements (SLAs). A common example in those articles is the putatively low Amazon Web Services SLA. Typically authors of these kind of articles go on to cite recent outages by cloud providers, implying (or stating directly) that cloud computing falls woefully short of the true SLA requirements of enterprises, often described as "five nines," i.e., 99.999 per cent availability.
During this week's Cloud Computing Expo, I had an opportunity to meet with a new Japanese Cloud Service Provider. This company, KDDI, is the second largest telco in Japan, and offers a wide range of network-based services, including colo and managed hosting. It has now moved into offering IaaS cloud services (starting roughly six months ago), basing its offering on well-known cloud infrastructure software company 3tera. I found our conversation really interesting, for the following reasons:
In last week's post, I discussed why dev/test can be a good first use of cloud computing. Without rehashing the entire post, it's clear that dev/test is often hampered in its activities by the difficulty of getting enough computing resources to its job.
When Microsoft's storage service for Sidekick users broke down, cloud computing questions sprang up -- both fair and unfair.
This week I'm in Washington, D.C., speaking at a <a href="http://1105govinfoevents.com/EventOverview.aspx?Event=JGCS09">government cloud computing event</a> and also meeting with congressional staff and agency personnel to discuss their cloud computing plans and concerns. The discussions have been really fascinating, both for what they indicate about the Federal government's cloud plans as well as what they illustrate about its challenges. But, make no mistake, the government is serious about its interest in cloud computing.
There's been a lot of discussion the past couple of days about an analysis by Guy Rosen, in which he estimates that Amazon Web Services (AWS) is provisioning 50K EC2 server instances per day. He created this estimate by examining EC2 resource IDs and doing a time-series analysis on how much the IDs are incremented per hour.
I am privileged to co-chair the SDForum Cloud Services SIG. This SIG, which Tibco graciously hosts in its Silicon Valley facility (directly across the street from VMware's HQ, I might add), is fortunate with its location-it attracts a fascinating range of speakers from innovative startups to large established technology powerhouses, all presenting on their cloud computing products, services, and plans. So I was a bit taken aback at the last meeting, when, during the pre-presentation networking, one attendee told me "I'm starting an anti-cloud company."
Public. Private. Hybrid. Cloudburst. Much of the discussion about cloud computing focuses on deployment options and choices, with a surprisingly large number of enterprises inclining toward internal private clouds-that is, a cloud-capable infrastructure residing within a company's own data center.
The talk of CloudWorld this week was VMware's acquisition of SpringSource. The top-of-mind chatter focused on the price: US$400 million plus, a very large sum for a company doing perhaps US$25 million in revenues. Certainly there was a good bit of envy in this type of conversation. And, of course, the fact that SpringSource is an open source company further makes the number even more eye-watering.