Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Some trivia questions on cloud computing

 ... just for amusement.


1. Which year was the future of computing being provided by public, private and mixed utilities like "electricity", first published in a book?

2. Which came first, a utility based IaaS or a utility based PaaS?

3. Was Amazon EC2 built on selling Amazon's spare capacity?

4. When did Amazon start working on the concept of EC2?

5. In which year was the idea of future utility markets, federated grids and the role of open source in cloud computing first publicly presented?


1. 1966, Douglas Parkhill, The Challenge of the Computer Utility.

2. Utility based IaaS. The first utility based PaaS (Zimki) was publicly launched at D.Construct, 14 days after the launch of the most commonly well known utility based IaaS of EC2 on the 25th August 2006.

3. No. The myth of Amazon EC2 being built on spare capacity of Amazon is one of the unquenchable and totally untrue rumours.

4. 2003, though the implementation of the idea started in 2004. A good bit of background on this can be found on Benjamin Black's post.

5. Whoot, I'd like to claim that was me in 2006, an earlier version of the talk I repeated at OSCON in 2007 but then that would be completely untrue. (see http://blip.tv/swardley/commoditisation-of-it-419213).

The reality is these ideas was fairly common by 2007 and I don't know when it actually started. Some of the federated ideas certainly dates back to 1960s and many of the concepts above were described in this 2003 paper on Xenoservers by Ian Pratt et al.

There are many earlier publication, normally around the notion of markets of common service providers (CSPs). You can also bet your bottom dollar that many academics were looking into this issue between 1995-2005.

So I'm afraid this was a trick question and the answer is ... no idea but earlier than people normally think.


The point I want to get across is that the concepts of cloud computing are much older than many realise, that there still are many myths (such as the Amazon spare capacity story) and we're in our 7th year of commercial applications. Normally, these changes take 8-12 yrs to become widespread and mainstream, hence expect this over the next year or so. If you're just getting upto speed with Cloud Computing then to be honest, you're perilously close to being a laggard.