Future of computing: Forecast calls for partly cloudy

Cloud computing is the hottest Internet insider buzzword since the technologies to which it owes its existence: Virtualization and Grid Computing.

In May’s Interop Unconference, we explored their intersection in an informal jam session with enthusiastic audience participation starring Jinesh Varia (Amazon), Kirill Sheynkman (Elastra), Rueven Cohen (Enomaly), Jacob Farmer (Cambridge Computer), and Louis DiMeglio (ScienceLogic).

It’s taken some time to fully digest the results.

To many of us, the cloud is that amorphous blob of semicircular squiggles the IT crowd has been using on whiteboards to represent the internet since the mid-nineties. Clouds mean we don’t care what’s in them.

Cloud Computing - everything and the kitchen sinkOnce upon a time, that cloud in the middle of the whiteboard used to just represent the network — how to get from here to there. All the interesting stuff happened outside its borders. More recently, however, we’ve started moving the rest of the shapes on the whiteboard into the cloud. Applications and infrastructure are now drawn within the borders of that formerly ill-defined and anarchic etherspace.

If you listen to some overzealous cloudnuts, you’ll will hear that pretty much everything is rushing headlong into the Internet’s troposphere. But the truth is much more complex, and rational opinions seem to favor a hybrid future of rich clients, hardware, and software. We’ll have a hugely diverse mix of private and public cloud-based services providing both a back-end and a matrix for device interaction.

Aside: I’ll leave defining cloud computing ad nauseam to other bloggers. For our purpose it is the trend of outsourcing what you would normally run in your datacenter to an indefinitely flexible computing platform which is billed to you as a utility. Traditional hosters don’t count (for me) as cloud providers, but newer managed service hosters might, depending on the level of automation and scalability they employ.

So what did the Interop crowd conclude?

Continue reading “Future of computing: Forecast calls for partly cloudy”

Living in a virtual world

I’m at Web2Expo this week, followed by Interop next week. I’m moderating a discussion between database heavyweights: Brian Aker, Director of Technology for MySQL; Dave Campbell, Microsoft Technical Fellow behind MS SQL Server; and Matt Domo, General Manager of Amazon SimpleDB. My first question should really be, “why isn’t Oracle here?”

But with the exception of that session, everything I’m seeing is virtual. Here’s my list of ten companies with a virtualization theme you should probably know about.

  1. Elastra, whose seasoned CEO has them out of the gates in record time with a technology for provisioning whole app clusters across any grid you want.
  2. Platespin, who suck physical machines into the virtual world, and just completed acquisition by Novell.
  3. Bluelane, focusing on security within the virtual machine — since if someone owns your hypervisor, you’re a whole new kind of crispy toast.
  4. Stacksafe, who I interviewed for GigaOm out on the pier. Very interesting use of virtualization to do pre-production testing.
  5. 3Tera, who launched a major upgrade to their virtual machine management technology at Web2Expo this week.
  6. Rightscale, who make virtual machine management tools. They just closed a round from Benchmark.

But wait, you say, that’s not ten! Yep, there are four in the list that I can’t get into yet. Stay tuned. They’re all twists on essential parts of a modern application, using bits instead of atoms. And that changes everything.