Where is the Cloud Computing bus going?


delorean_19813Technological innovation patterns have often repeated themselves in history. So it is with Cloud Computing. Familiar patterns of change seem to emerge today

Here are some of main trends that I see in Cloud Computing

Advent of containers: Containers are the new hot topic in cloud computing. In virtualization guest OS’es run separately. Running separate guest OS over the hypervisor is associated with a lot of overhead for each of the heavy weight OS’es. Containers can be used as an alternative to OS-level virtualization to run multiple isolated systems on a single host. Containers within a single operating system are much more efficient being light weight while being able to provide the same level of isolation. Containers run the same kernel as the host. Here is an interesting article on containers Containers, not virtual machines are the future of the cloud.

In many ways this containers over VM innovation pattern is reminiscent of the advantages of lightweight ‘threads’ over the heavy and slow ‘process’ approach in the OS world.  It is inevitable that containers will eventually score over VMs

Open ‘something’ over proprietary’ness: Technology over the decades has always moved into an ‘open’ approach over proprietary solutions. Hence, for example, we have OpenStack for creating instances, provisioning storage, network to do many things that are being done separately by VMWare, Citrix, Hyper-V. The intent is to have a common approach over several disparate approaches. In the networking world there is OpenFlow which tries to have a uniform interface to the many different standards maintained by the Ciscos, Junipers and Brocades of the world.  There are also other technologies like OpenCV (Computer Vision processing), Open VPN (VPN protocol) etc. In all these approaches there is either to move to unify or to provide a layer over and above the disparate approaches.  I am not sure whether Openstack will prevail, only time will tell. I personally think we will move to a level abstraction that will be even above that of Open Stack.

Software Defined Everything: Cloud Computing started with the need to be able to provision computing resources through a user interface or the Web portal. This was made possible, thanks to virtualization. Users could now define and request computing resources. Soon this led to the need for being able to programmatically request storage. The trick in storage is to do ‘thin-provisioning’ or to provision resources that barely satisfies the needs of the application. The application will be able to request more storage programmatically. Not to be outdone, networking followed suit when Software Defined Networking became a reality when Stanford and University of California came with the Open Flow protocol. We have now entered into the era of Software Defined Datacenter. This is a dominant theme in Cloud Computing.

These are some of the predominant trends that are emerging in the Cloud Computing arena.

I have spent more than 2 decades of my career in telecom, implementing telecom protocols, starting in the mid-1980s. The mid 1980s was the time when digital switches started to emerge. This was followed by a spate of protocols and dizzying innovations like mobile telephony, ISDN, Intelligent Networks, Softswitch, UMTS,3G, HSDPA, LTE etc.

I personally think that Cloud computing, to use a very frayed and hackneyed term, is at a similar ‘inflexion point’. Trends are emerging and we will soon be caught in the maelstrom of rapid change and innovation.

In this post I am going to do a Marty McFly of the ‘Back to Future’ trilogy. I am going to set the clock of the Delorean DMC-12 to 2020 and ‘Whoosh…..’

21 Apr 2020:

It is 21 Apr 2020 and a sunny day.  Here is a look at the Cloud Computing landscape

  • The Organization of Cloud Computing Standards (OCCS) now sets and governs the standards for all Cloud Providers of the world
  • Common APIs govern provisioning of instances on the cloud regardless of the Cloud Provider. Instances are defined by RPE values, RAM and IOPS, LB, DNS requirements
  • Networking bandwidth, security and storage are also standards based
  • Enterprises use a ‘diffuse deployment’ strategy where the organization’s workloads are deployed to multiple cloud providers.
  • Workloads are Cloud Provider agnostic.
  • Enterprise applications themselves may span multiple cloud providers for e.g. the e-commerce in Cloud Provider 1, Analytics on HPC instances on Cloud Provider 2 and secure applications on Private Cloud of Cloud Provider 3. Appropriate contracts are maintained between the Cloud Providers for charging for the usage.
  • Algorithms are used by enterprises to deploy workloads to cloud providers. The algorithms match the SLA and cost requirements of the application with those offered by the cloud provider to minimize the cost while meeting the SLA requirements of the applications.
  • Compute, storage and networking costs fluctuate and enterprises use algorithms to optimize the deployment of workloads. Workloads are migrated to take advantage of these price changes
  • Consolidation and acquisitions happen at an alarming pace. Cloud providers, storage, network and HPC providers aslo compete fiercely
  • Cloud providers are swallowed by others and some lose out. The battle scene is bloody

Time to get back to Delorean. This time the clock on Delorean is set to 2025

18 Sep 2025

Today it is 18 Sep 2025, and it is sunny again, coincidentally.

  • Cloud Computing is dead, mate. These days technology has moved to ‘Cloud Computing in a box’.
  • The technology of these times are ‘Haze works’ where the computation happens in the stratosphere over the ether …

So much for looking into the future. It is now time to get back to the reality of VMs

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