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Jonathan Erickson

Dr. Dobb's Bloggers

Cloud Computing, Coming Down the Stretch?

February 12, 2009

Just because the term "cloud computing" has been ridden hard and put away wet doesn't mean there isn't any "there" there. Hype aside, cloud computing appears to be for real. The promise that cloud computing offers developers with great ideas but little cash execute those ideas is reason enough to hop on the bandwagon.

With its announcement that it will start delivering software to developers via Amazon Web Services (AWS) using a "pay-as-you-go" model puts Big Blue squarely in the clouds-are-okay camp. And as part of the deal, IBM is making available Amazon Machine Images (AMIs) at no charge for development and test purposes, so that developers can quickly prototype applications within Amazon EC2.

Still, cloud computing isn't home yet, at least according to the folks at the University of California at Berkeley's Reliable Adaptive Distributed Systems Lab who, in their paper Above the Clouds: A Berkeley View of Cloud Computing, predict that cloud computing will continue to grow. That said, it may not be *that* easy because cloud computing will face obstacles.

To put this in perspective the "RAD Lab" has identified the "Top 10 Obstacles to and Opportunities for Growth of Cloud Computing":

1.Availability of ServiceUse Multiple Cloud Providers; Use Elasticity to Prevent DDOS
2.Data Lock-InStandardize APIs; Compatible SW to enable Surge Computing
3. Data Confidentiality and AuditabilityDeploy Encryption, VLANs, Firewalls; Geographical Data Storage
4. Data Transfer BottlenecksFedExing Disks; Data Backup/Archival; Higher BW Switches
5. Performance UnpredictabilityImproved VM Support; Flash Memory; Gang Schedule VMs
6. Scalable StorageInvent Scalable Store
7. Bugs in Large Distributed SystemsInvent Debugger that relies on Distributed VMs
8. Scaling QuicklyInvent Auto-Scaler that relies on ML; Snapshots for Conservation
9. Reputation Fate SharingOffer reputation-guarding services like those for email
10. Software LicensingPay-for-use licenses; Bulk use sales

They go on to say that different utility computing offerings -- Amazon EC2, Google AppEngine, Microsoft Azure, and the like -- will be distinguished based on the level of abstraction presented to programmers and the level of management of the resources. Right, its a software problem (again).

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