Cloud Computing: What’s Required
October 20, 2008
Seeking Alpha ran a long analysis by Gregory Ness titled “Cloud Computing: What Are the Barriers to Entry and IT Diseconomies.” I thought the analysis was quite good. Not surprisingly, I had several thoughts occur to me, but I find it stimulating to read thoughtful work by an individual who approaches a subject in a helpful, informative way. You can find the full text here. The most useful portion of the write up for was the discussion of the infrastructure. The gap between Google and the also-rans in the Web search game boil down to plumbing. Mr. Ness understands its importance. I don’t agree with his assertion that we have entered “Infrastructure 2.0.” My view is that Google built on AltaVista.com’s experiences and applied itself to addressing fundamental issues such as file and record locks and unlocks, minimizing message overhead in massively parallel systems, and confronting the problems of traditional Codd database structures in its first year or two of existence. Since that time, Google has continued to make incremental improvements in its decade old system. Companies trying to catch Google are not going to get very far if those firms try to embrace Infrastructure 2.0 as more than a word envelope. Amazon–a company which seems to get more mileage from modest R&D and information technology investments than others–has made good progress, but I doubt that its engineering foundation is as robust as Google’s. But Google, like Amazon, can fall over as the recent Gmail outage proves. Nevertheless, plumbing is important. When I was wandering around Crete, I saw some ruins that we thousands of years old. Those ruins had terracotta water drains visible. Plumbing is old stuff. I don’t think archaeologists talk about “Plumbing 2.0.” Despite my dislike of the “2.0” reference, this is a good bit of work. A happy quack to Mr. Ness.
Stephen Arnold, October 20, 2008