Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Far from the Madding Cloud ...

Today I was faced with a challenge.

Explain cloud computing and why interoperability, portability and markets based upon open sourced standards are important IN layman terms!

Now as James' says, I've done this subject to death over the last few years. So I thought I'd try to explain all of this using example for cloud computing and an analogy to explain why interoperability, openness and so forth is important.

So here goes ...

Imagine that average Joe has taken out a big loan to buy lots of very expensive computer hardware.

Tom rents this hardware from average Joe and uses his technological wizardry to make it all appear as one big computer.

Dick rents this big computer from Tom and uses his virtualisation technology to make it appear as lots of small virtual machines.

Harry rents some of these virtual machines and creates a multi-tenanted storage service and messaging system.

Alice also rents virtual machines from Dick to provide a multi-tenanted framework for developing applications in. Rather than building all the elements of the framework she rents Harry's storage and messaging system however she provides access to it through her own API.

Bob rents an instance of this multi-tenanted framework from Alice in order to build a multi-tenanted application which provides transport routing information based upon user provided data, some super smart algorithms and an external cartographic web service from Dave.

Sue, who runs IT for a multi-billion dollar transport company, decides to use Bob's new transport routing system as a key part of her business processes. It's provided on a software as a service basis and marketed as "cloud" which is the latest hot thing, so Sue is happy.

Sue has never heard of Dave, Alice, Harry, Dick, Tom or average Joe. That's cloud computing!

The downside is that average Joe forgets to pay a bill and his machines get repossessed.

As for the analogy;

Imagine that average Joe has taken out a big loan to buy lots of very expensive houses.

Tom uses his financial wizardry to make it all appear as one big security.

Dick divides this security into smaller ...

... you know the rest.


Rufus said...

The first part is not in layman's terms, but the analogy is beautiful!

Anonymous said...

So now you know why Frogtrade sell on servers installed in the company, with a perpetual licence!

swardley said...

Hi Rufus,

Well I tried, maybe not 100% successful. Thanks though - much appreciated.

I hope all is well with you and Coralie (and T of course, and ...?)

swardley said...

Hi Roger,

The move from a product you own and which runs on standard components that you are aware of and can re-implement to a service that you rent and for which you have little or no idea about the components it depends upon or how interoperability & portable it is, should be of concern.

Without interoperability, portability and transparency of components, it can quite easily become a house of cards. Of course, open source solves this problem.

The problem with a black box solution has always been dependency on the vendor but at least you had access to the black box.

In the cloud world, you have to consider that should something go wrong, you might not even have access.

Anonymous said...

Masterful as always Simon. Thanks for sharing another treasure and your commitment to challenge our thinking and force us to look forward.

swardley said...

Thank you Jenny, very kind words.

However, when it comes to challenging our thinking and looking forward, I strongly believe that you are leading the way.

I'm more of the "dig up stories from the past and retell them in simple to understand chunks" sort of guy.

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