The Economist is now reporting on the cloud. They’ve picked up on the very real concern of vendor lock-in because of proprietary standards. The article focuses on data portability between SaaS apps, but the same issue arises in IaaS (different proprietary virtualization formats, despite what the Open Virtualization Format (OVF) promises), and in PaaS (google app engine extensions to Python which are hard to ignore and lock you into their platform).
I did a series of videos in the fall of 2008 about Web 2.o, SOA, entitlements, etc. These were on the Layer 7 home page until recently, when we went through another re-design. The videos still exist on YouTube, but we did nothing to promote them so they haven’t been seen by too many people. I’m going to re-post them here over the next week for posterity.
This is the first time I had done this kind of media. I spent the day down at Media2o in Gastown. Bradley Shende and his crew are real pros, and I really enjoyed the whole experience. But I do have to confess: it’s a lot harder than it looks. I’ve done loads of talks at conferences, web casts, etc, and I honestly went in believing that I would knock it off in one take each and be out in time for lunch.
Was I ever wrong. Even with the aid of a teleprompter, it took hours of video to get these four short pieces. We were all pretty tired by the end of the day. I learned an important lesson here. You just can’t underestimate how a different media will impact how you perform. I can still barely watch these without cringing.
Hopefully I’ll get a chance to do this again. And I’m going to practice a lot more in front of a mirror this time…
Earlier this month, NIST went public with their perspective on cloud computing. This is important because NIST is a well-respected, public standards organization, and there is still a lot of confusion about what cloud really is (the *-aaS affect).
They released only a short, two page document and a longer, 72 slide PowerPoint (you can find their main page here). They are offering a broad definition based on essential characteristics, delivery models, and deployment models:
Ubiquitous network access
Location independent resource pooling
Cloud Software as a Service (SaaS)
Cloud Platform as a Service (PaaS)
Cloud Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)
There’s not really anything new here, but that’s fine; it’s more important as a validation of the emerging models and ideas from a public standards body. I do like the three pronged approach, acknowleding that cloud is a lot of things but at the same time keeping it simple and concise. Brevity is the soul of great standards.
We’ve released the first in my series of white papers on cloud governance. This is the high level overview of issues and solutions, titled Steer Safely into the Clouds. You can download it from the Layer 7 website.
Looks like Amazon read the Berkeley cloud paper where they spent a lot of time dissecting the economics of physical shipment of cheap disk drives versus the still high cost and relatively constrained (compared to USB, at least) bandwidth of WAN links.
Never underestimate the simplicity and potential data transfer rates of sneakernet. I was reminded of this when I saw the Western Digital WDTV recently at Costco. It’s basically a digital media player with HDMI that you plug portable USB drives into. At first I thought it was dumb, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized that this is a pretty pragmatic solution. what they did right was keeping the price way down (they are something like $129 CAD at Costco). I’m trying to talk myself out of buying this and waiting for the inevitable cheap version with USB and Wifi plus the ability to wirelessly mount disks from various servers.
I spent hours pouring over Radio Shack catalogs thinking about which one I should get (calculating a careful balance between cost and potential). When I finally did get one of these kits (actually, I think it was this one–it looks eerily familiar), it was cool but very cookie cutter, and didn’t really teach anything about electronics. Somehow I never made the conceptual leap into circuit hacking that seemed so easy when confronted by a computer language. I don’t think I really understood circuits until I took 2nd year electrical engineering courses, and that was 100% theoretical–no soldering required.
I’ve always puzzled over why programming triggers such powerful attraction with so many people, but other disciplines, which are arguably similar, don’t. Electronics is one of these. Like programming, it’s component-based and consists of puzzles and features (relatively) instant feedback. But it doesn’t quite engage the same broad section of people.
A more extreme case is math. I’ve always been much more respectful of strong, natural math skills (which I have to work hard at) than of programming or general computing skills (which I find comparatively easy).
1972 – Dennis Ritchie invents a powerful gun that shoots both forward and backward simultaneously. Not satisfied with the number of deaths and permanent maimings from that invention he invents C and Unix.
I really found the time line interesting. I honestly wouldn’t have guessed Ruby was that old. Everyone thinks of the 70s as such a fertile time in language development (everyone who was anyone came up with a language), but we easily forget the important milestones in the 50s. Half a century later we are still dealing with some of the decisions made in this time.