Cloud gazing

For those of you who just can’t get enough of this cloud thing, here’s some weekend reading. Berkeley’s Reliable Adaptive Distributed Systems Laboratory – the RAD Lab, as it’s groovily known – has a new white paper, Above the Clouds: A Berkeley View of Cloud Computing, that examines the economics of the cloud model, from both a user’s and a supplier’s perspective, and lays out the opportunities and obstacles that will likely shape the development of the industry in the near to medium term. And, in the new issue of IEEE Spectrum, Randy Katz surveys the state of the art in the construction of cloud data centers.

4 thoughts on “Cloud gazing

  1. Tom Lord

    Oops. I’m late to the party. I pointed you at that paper in the previous thread but only after you’d posted this. Great minds!:-!

  2. Simon Wardley

    It’s a interesting paper however in my opinion it doesn’t explore changes in the business environment which are leading to the emergence of cloud computing.

    Many of the reasons given for cloud computing were also given during the ASP days (pay per use, elimination of upfront cost and scaling being dealt with by a 3rd party), however back then the activities that were often targeted seemed neither ubiquitous nor well defined enough for such an approach. Businesses often perceived that competitive advantage in customised solutions exceeded the benefits of standard components provided through volume operations.

    This has started to change. For example, CRM has become ubiquitous and defined enough in many industries that most offerings are considered to be feature complete. The marginal benefits of customisation are slowly being perceived to be less than the benefits of standard components provided through volume operations. The same appears to be true with many other IT activities in the computing stack.

    Hence I’d personally argue that one of the primary drivers for growth of the cloud is that discrete IT activities (at different layers of the computing stack) have become ubiquitous and defined enough to be suitable for volume operations (whether CRM at the application layer or machine images at the infrastructure layer).

    The trend towards cloud computing often appears to have less to do with new technology innovation but more to do with a change in perception in the business environment. It is this change which has enabled those IT activities to cross the boundary from a product to a service based economy. I do not think that it is a coincidence that the hottest trends of IT – from service oriented architecture, to mashing up services, to web services to cloud computing – all have a service theme.

    Overall the paper is a good summary of contemporary thought over the last twenty years but I’d liked to have seen more, including :-

    • a deeper exploration of the changes in the business environment and whether they are driving this change?
    • consideration given to the beneficial impacts of componentisation of various layers of the computing stack (i.e. acceleration of innovation in IT).
    • consideration given to the business impact of cloud computing and why this shift to a service economy could create competitive disadvantages for those that don’t adapt (i.e. Does the Red Queen Hypothesis apply?).

    Maybe I expect too much from an academic institution but it reads more like a commercial whitepaper.

  3. Ivo Quartiroli

    I have much respect for Kurzweil, his brilliant mind goes often toward projects aimed to help people’s suffering. But he embodies the apotheosis of Descartes’ delusion in understanding and controlling the whole existence through the intellect (and electronics in his case).

    Immortality has been pursued by Taoism as well, but they were looking to connect to the eternal components of our soul, from an inner perspective. I wrote about the Singularity and Kurzweil on The Singularity is Nearest

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