Working in the Cloud

March 27, 2008

A thought experiment of what it might be like for a user working for a full cloud enabled company. Meaning a company that has moved its entire IT infrastructure to the cloud.

The workers  will still use a laptop-like device optimized for the cloud. I can’t resist, let’s call it a cloudtop. It might be much like a MacBook Air though an iPhone would work equally well. I just like laptops over phones or PDAs. And an aside, further proof that Steve Jobs is really a time-travelling alien who comes to us from about 10 years in the future.

The cloudtop has WiFI, WiMax and cellular, so it is connected to the cloud all the time from just about anywhere. It also has a VoIP+cellular phone so it can place calls from just about anywhere, automatically picking VoIP where ever possible of course.

At the office, the cloudtop doesn’t need to be plugged into anything. It is already connected to the cloud. In fact. there is nowhere to connect it, the office has no need for networking, and has none. Just electrical power, to recharge the batteries. No telephone network either, the cloudtop has VoIP already. The company uses a CloudPBX service to route all of its calls, available from anywhere of course.

Which leads to the question, why have the office at all? All it provides are empty desks and empty meeting rooms. You don’t need to lease expensive business real estate for those. The business doesn’t reside there, it is in the virtual “real estate” in the cloud.


Gibson was Wrong

March 27, 2008

Gibson being William Gibson the author who is often credited with coining the term cyberspace in his novel Neuromancer. He gave us the romantic metaphor for the early internet as this alternate utopia where the “real” world rules didn’t or couldn’t apply. Many early users really believed it too.

Truth is, it wasn’t that the real world rules didn’t apply, it was just that the real world didn’t care enough to bother. As long as there was no money and few users, no one cared what sort of utopia Net users dreamed of. Remember back when the ‘Net was non-commercial?

Now that there is lots of money to be made, the “real” world  cares big time and cyberspace has evaporated. The real world has simply absorbed it.

If anything, many of us now may think the real world rules don’t apply enough as we find the internet has become a haven for spammers and thieves

To the millenium generation the notion of cyberspace is quaint at best. They have never known a world without full time high speed connectivity, without always on instant messaging, etc.. It is just a part of their “real” world.


The End may be Closer than You Think

January 19, 2008

The end being the “End of Corporate Computing” as Nick Carr has called the utility computing model.

In his blog, Brian Cinque, the chief datacenter architect for Sun Microsystems IT, sets a target of 2015 for SunIT to shutdown all of its data centers in favour buying IT from central utilities.

Sun may have a vested interest in pushing this envelope since they want to sell lots of new servers to these new utilities but that’s still only SEVEN years away.

Given the lifecycle of data center servers can be 5 years or longer, your next upgrade cycle could well be your last. In fact, if you just refreshed, you might be done now.

Let the great data center tear down begin.


Cycles

December 9, 2007

Interesting how cycles go in this business.

Back in the beginning when computers were hugely expensive and people relatively cheap, we had big centralized mainframes so we could share the high cost computer.

As computers got comparatively cheaper we stopped sharing them and distributed client/server computing became the norm.

Now computers are so cheap that people are comparatively expensive and we have these giant Google data centers so that a few people can be shared around managing all the computers.

What’s next? When computers become so automated that they don’t require anyone at all to manage them, they will be distributed out again as appliances.


Servers in Siberia

December 9, 2007

Microsoft has apparently started plans for a bug data center in Siberia. Along with several other data centers recently completed and the giant Northlake, Illinois center now under construction, Microsoft is scrambling to keep up with Google data center build up. The Microsoft build is to support the Microsoft Live product line.

The particular attraction of Siberia, along with low prices likely, is literally cold air. Cooling is very significant cost in these data centers and cold winter air makes for much cheaper cooling than A/C. Low average temps were also a big draw for the Northlake data center, reportedly to be the world’s largest data center when it is completed.

If the big requirements for a data center are cold air, abundant electric power and good internet connectivity, you’d think parts of Canada would be a on that list. So far I don’t know of any though.

To get an idea of the cost savings with this data center model, the Northlake center will have well over 10,000 servers but employ only about 35 to 50 people.

The Northlake Data Center


Thin client this time?

November 10, 2007

We’ve heard the thin client promise for years, remember X terminals and JavaStations? Remember how Netscape scared Microsoft into giving IE away to drive Netscape out of busness? In every case, the thick client, essentially MS Office, has prevailed.

The thin client has failed so many times before, why might this time be different?

  • Companies like Google (and even MS) are spending big bucks to build the necessary backend infrastructure, like those infamous Google datacentres and Google Apps
  • With mobile devices, we are no longer tied to our PCs so a PC-centric solution is less appealing, Instead of a PC, why not just attach a keyboard and monitor to my cellphone?
  • The cost of maintaining a network of PCs is now seen as onerous. Leave all that upgrading and virus scanning to Google.
  • A lot of business in-house apps have already moved to an web based model on Java or MS.Net.

Let’s all read about it in Nick Carr’s new book “The Big Switch”. I’ve already pre-ordered my copy.


Server Huggers

November 9, 2007

Server huggers are people who won’t give up there own private servers, even when a more centralized model makes more sense. They may be department level people who won’t move to the corporate data centre. Or data centre people who won’t move to the Google Cloud.

The fact that we have a derogatory term like server hugger tells me something is going on here. Back in the client/server days, those departmental types would have been called leading edge, now they’re legacy holdouts.

Note also that server hugger means a whole different thing at Hooters.