Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Above the Clouds: A Berkeley View of Cloud Computing

The Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences department at the University of California at Berkeley just put out a research paper on Cloud Computing as they see it.

The paper is an in-depth exploration of what some consider to be just another buzzword, Cloud Computing. Since nobody has agreed on what exactly it means, the implication is that it's just a marketing term.

I remember when web services started to appear, around 2000/2001 if I recall correctly. The descriptions and possibilities seemed great, but nobody really knew what to do with them or why. So there came a time when nobody talked about web services anymore and it looked like that particular bubble had burst.

In fact, behind the scenes, a host of companies and individuals were figuring web services out, building their own, and releasing them. A couple of years after the term started popping up, web services arrived for real and now we have mashups and SaaS and Software + Services and some really well-traveled XML fragments zipping around the globe.

The same thing seems to be going on with Cloud Computing. We're in the early days, and still hearing the "Moon on a stick" promises that Cloud Computing is a silver bullet for everything.

This white paper is one of the first I've seen that really quantifies the (potential) cost savings of Cloud Computing.

Some gems:

  • Explanations on Cloud Computing and how it differs from previous attempts;
  • Classes of Utility Computing on page 10, comparing Google AppEngine, Amazon Web Services, and Microsoft's beta Azure platform;
  • Cloud Computing economic models, on page 12;
  • A discussion of the Top 10 challenges- and potential solutions to them - on page 16;
  • The observation that FedExing your data is a good way to cut down on your bandwidth costs and delays.

This is very impressive work. The full paper is here:

http://www.eecs.berkeley.edu/Pubs/TechRpts/2009/EECS-2009-28.pdf

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