Monday, July 28, 2008

Phew, it's hot in here ....

The "cloud" is a hot topic, by which I mean it has moved firmly into the transitional stage of its lifecycle and it is therefore becoming more mainstream. There is now so much movement and so many players in the field that the cacophony of noise can be overwhelming to those new to the subject. Eventually de facto standards will emerge but for now you have the maelstrom of players all jostling for position.

I thought I'd make a few comments about things I've found interesting in the last few weeks.

First of all, Artur Bergman and Brad Fitzpatrick are working on a Perl implementation of Google App Engine. From Brad's blog:-

"In the process we can build the start of an open source App Engine server clone that's suitable for many purposes .... but perhaps in the future (once Hypertable/Hbase/etc are ready) a full stack to give to ISPs to let them run App Engine apps on their own."

An open sourced stack allowing ISPs to create an ecosystem of providers, this is very smart move.

Secondly, James Duncan has also just released an open source JavaScript cloud environment. Now James used to be the CIO of Fotango in the Zimki days, so it is no surprise that he has followed an open source route. I see that he has gone for cloneable apps (network effects), open sourced reference model (focus on kickstarting an ecosystem), JavaScript language (allows a wider audience) and maintaining operational advantages through their own implementation (such as the data store). Well it's early days but they've made some smart moves and have every chance of doing very well.

I also note that Zimory are introducing and operating an international trading platform to exchange data center resources. Looks like I'm going to win my bet for computer resource brokers in the next six years. Whilst Zimory's service is principally based upon open source technology, the functionality controlling the connection between the local manager and the marketplace is kept proprietary and patented. That's a pity, as you don't need patent protection here but reputation. Patents might perversely slow the adoption rate.

I haven't seen the patent yet but the idea of exchanges and the ability to "offer and to retrieve data center resources dynamically and on-demand" has been obvious to anyone working in the field for the last five years, not that anyone at the European Patent Office would know that. Still at least we have people moving into the marketspace arena. Personally, I'm also expecting to see Microsoft make a big play in this area.

Lastly, I note that Tim O'Reilly and others have created the Open Web Foundation, an independent non-profit dedicated to the development and protection of open, non-proprietary specifications for web technologies. Whilst this is a positive move, my concern is that their focus will be on specification rather than open sourced standards (i.e. operational open sourced reference models of what is to be provided). Time will tell, however the encouraging sign is that Tim favours the practical approach taken by the IETF of "a rough consensus and running code".

My view is that in a service based economy, it makes logical sense for that "running code" to be the open specification in a cloud computing world. It is all hotting up and the next five years promise a real shake up of the industry.

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