Wednesday, September 02, 2009

That Tesla feeling ...

When it comes to the modern electricity industry, Nikola Tesla is undoubtedly one of the most significant figures in its history. His work pioneered the formation of alternating current electrical power systems, including the A/C motor and multi-phase systems for electricity distribution. There are none who would compare in terms of contribution.

By contrast, Thomas Edison was vehemently opposed to the A/C system, even going so far as to publicly electrocuting animals to show its dangers. However, the average person today would likely associate Edison as the "father of modern electricity", in much the same way they might associate him as the inventor of the electric light bulb (as opposed to Joseph Swan).

First, be in no doubt that Edison made enormous contributions to these and many other fields. The question that really needs to be asked is how did Edison become so strongly associated to a field when the contribution of others was equally as large if not greater?

I often nickname this situation as a "tesla moment", an incident in time where the noise generated by others far outweighs the actual contributions made. Nikola Tesla's entire life seems to have been on the wrong side of a prolonged Tesla moment. In my view, he has never really achieved the recognition he deserves.

So why do I mention this? Well, to some extent Canonical has had its own trivial Tesla moment and to be honest this irks me. Canonical, for those of you who don't know, is the company that sponsors and supports Ubuntu - the world's fastest growing linux distribution. In the cloud computing space, Canonical has made some bold moves, including :-

  • The first distribution to select KVM as its official hypervisor.
  • Launch of officially supported images on Amazon EC2 (2008).
  • Integration of Eucalyptus into the distribution (April'09, Ubuntu Enterprise Cloud). We're the first and only distribution to provide their users with a simple way of creating their own clouds that match the Amazon EC2 API (the defacto standard for infrastructure provision in the cloud)
  • The introduction of support, training and consultancy services targeted at building private clouds.
  • The introduction of officially supported machine images which will run both on a public and private cloud environment across different hypervisors.

We've been working in the background with a number of different partners and we have several announcements aimed for the next release of Ubuntu. Overall, a lot of work has gone into making Ubuntu Server Edition an easy way to get started with cloud computing.

So, you can guess my disappointment that Canonical was not included in the list of 85 vendors shaping the cloud.

Obviously we need to create more noise however we're not going to do this by adding vapour, there's enough already in the cloud world.

Since UEC is freely available, open sourced and doesn't require subscriptions for security updates and patches, there are many people building ubuntu clouds with whom we have no contact. Hence, I'd like to hear from you and how the community is using UEC.

Ping me on twitter.


Sam Johnston said...


These lists are meaningless, annoying noise and the fact that Canonical was not included reflects badly on the authors of the list (who likely created it for SEO purposes) rather than those [in|ex]cluded.

There are plenty of people working hard to make cloud a reality (eg the "big four") and plenty of others busying themselves taking credit.

This unfair balance exists throughout society in the form of 'givers' vs 'takers' and there's little that can be done about it.


swardley said...

I completely agree that we're not very good at acknowledging the givers. On that note, still looking forwards to hear more about the open cloud initiative.

Sam Johnston said...

Yes, and I'm busy working at 1am this fine Monday morning so as to have some news for you very soon :)