Sunday, April 22, 2007

Prediction: Server-Less IT Services

Folks like Greg Papadapoulous at Sun say that a small number of companies will invest in creating a huge infrastructure of computing power. (See my blog of 12 Jan. 2007). And folks like Amazon are already doing so with their Electronic Compute Cloud (EC2), while others like Google, eBay, Yahoo etc. are likely to follow.

To Wit: Carriers like Verizon have announced intentions to do so, and recently announced its existing ability to host more than just CRM applications. But what will really signal the shift toward "compute cloud" use will be the third-party vendors that make use of these resources.

So Here's my prediction: As the infrastructure vendors build-out their compute and storage farms, a new class of computing "brokers" will emerge. These players will adapt the needs of users and IT departments to make seamless use of these compute and storage "clouds". Everything from backing-up your laptop for pennies a GB, to hosting and failover services that don't own a single server.

And here's proof it's happening, with "mashups" of the following just around the corner:
  • JungleDisk: offering a simple windows interface to allow individuals to create a "web drive" onto Amazon's S3 storage
  • Weoceo: offering a product that allows existing servers to "overflow" peak computing needs onto Amazon's EC2 cloud
  • Enomalism: providing services to provision and migrate virtual "elastic" servers, even onto and off-of the Amazon EC2 cloud
  • Elasticlive: which essentially provides virtual hosting services - as predicted - (and works with Enomalism, above). Plus, they charge by the "instance-hour", not by the server type!
  • Geoelastic: a beta group of "global hosting providers" who will be creating a "global elastic computing cloud" and presumably balancing loads between physical centers.
  • Distributed Potential: beginning to deliver pay-per-use grid computing capacity (powered by Elasticlive and Enomalism technologies, above)
  • Distributed Exchange: Also powered by (and presumably founded by) ElasticLive and Enomalism; claiming to "broker" excess compute capacity between providers
  • Dozens of 3rd-parties creating even more applications on S3
The question is, how quickly will small- to medium-sized businesses feel comfortable outsourcing their IT needs to a service that itself may not own any physical servers? What security, compliance and privacy issues might arise? My gut tells me that these are merely details that will be overcome as the new economics of this model crushes the existing economics of owning your own iron.

Lastly, from somewhat of a self-serving perspective, Cassatt essentially creates a "cloud" out of existing resources within corporate IT. At that point, shifting loads between "clouds" (internal or external) becomes a simply policy-based procedure.

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