Infrastructure Cloud Strategies

San Francisco, Monday Feb 20th, evening. I'm wondering what path most Platform customers will take to the cloud over the next decade, and perhaps more interesting, what will the intermediate steps be as they prepare for that journey. I'm here for the molecular tri-con, and had the pleasure, or more properly, the learning experience of listening to people like Deepak Singh of Amazon, Chris Dagdigian of Bioteam, and Jason Stowe of Cycle Computing.

For a while, global organizations have recognized that its much easier to move computing resources and demands to the location where data is housed rather than the reverse. As such, its now quite common to hear that regions within globally distributed companies have specialties, and take on projects of their own. Naturally, this isn’t as efficient as it could be, and perhaps the promise of 3D compression services for remote visualization will eventually unlock the user from only working on data close to him. But that’s another story and another blog post.

More and more, in these cloud computing conferences, the need for data is emphasized, or seen as a barrier for widespread use of cloud computing. Simply put, the time to transfer data up to the cloud process it, and bring it back often negates the value of using a metered pay per use infinite compute service. For me this is like not being able to drive a new Nissan GTR out of the garage simply because it doesn’t have any gas in the tank.

Amazon EC2 has recognized the import of data and made uploads into the cloud a free process. Of course, storing that data in the cloud isn't free, but then again, neither is buying redundant filers, and locating them in geographically dispersed data centers. But more cleverly, once data is sitting in the cloud, not only is access to it nearly guaranteed by amazon, but that data is easily and cost effectively manipulated in any number of ways using the EC2 instances as operators. There is no secret sauce here, no super-sophisticated technology which Amazon has developed with scores of software developers with Mensa membership cards in their wallets.

Cloud vendors take note (IBM people included) Once an organization starts locating corporate data in a particular cloud as a business policy, that cloud provider has won the battle for where that data will be processed. And processing demand only grows with time.