Is the New Era of Timesharing Winding Down?

August 11, 2022

What kind of question is that? Stupid for sure. The cloud is infinite. The earnings bright spots for Amazon, Google, and Microsoft are cloud revenue and services. Google wants to amp up its cloud because sitting in third place behind the dorky outfits Amazon and Microsoft is not part of the high school science club’s master plan. And Microsoft cannot cope with Amazon AWS. Accordingly Microsoft is chasing start ups in order to be in the front of the ChocoTaco line for the next big thing. And Amazon. Fancy moves like killing long-provided services like backup, making changes that will cause recoding of some applications, and thinking about ways to increase revenue from Fancy Dan billing thresholds.

The cloud is the big thing.

If the information in “Why AI and Machine Learning Are Drifting Away from the Cloud” is on the money, one of those odd ball Hegelian things may be gaining momentum. The reference is to the much loved and pretty obvious theory that sine waves operated in the biological world. I am referring to the old chestnut test question about thesis, antithesis, and synthesis. Stated another way: First there was a big computer. Then there was timesharing. Then there was the personal computer. Then there was client server. That begot the new version of the cloud. The future? Back to company-owned and controlled computers. Hegelian stuff, right?

The article presents this idea:

Cloud computing isn’t going anywhere, but some companies are shifting their machine learning data and models to their own machines they manage in-house. Adopters are spending less money and getting better performance.

Let’s follow this idea. If smart software becomes the next big thing as opposed to feeding people, the big clouds will face customer defection and maybe pushback about pricing, lock in, and restrictions on what can and cannot be done on the services. (Yep, some phishing outfits use the cloud to bedevil email users. Yes, some durable Dark Web sites host some of their data on big cloud services. Yep, some cloud services have “inspection” tools to prevent misuse which may not be as performant as the confections presented in marketing collateral.)

With more AI, perhaps there will be less cloud. Then what?

The write up points out:

Companies shifting compute and data to their own physical servers located inside owned or leased co-located data centers tend to be on the cutting edge of AI or deep-learning use, Robinson [vice president of strategic partnerships and corporate development at MLOps platform company Domino Data Lab] said. “[They] are now saying, ‘Maybe I need to have a strategy where I can burst to the cloud for appropriate stuff. I can do, maybe, some initial research, but I can also attach an on-prem workload.”

Hegel? What’s he got to do with this rethinking of the cloud, today’s version of good old timesharing? Probably nothing. The sine wave theories are silly. Ask any Econ 101 or Poli Sci 101 student. And who does not enjoy surprise charges for cloud computing services which are tough to see through? I know I do.

Stephen E Arnold, August 11, 2022

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