From Amazon to Zynga, cloud leaders at the conference gave some interesting sneak peeks at the future of cloud computing. Take a look ahead.
Cloud Connect, a UBM/TechWeb event, always generates a lot of news of interest to IT pros, developers, and cloud providers. As the third day of meetings are set to kick off in Santa Clara, Calif., that tradition is holding true. Here are the four topics that have already caught my eye.
Telecommunications Companies Show Cloud Aspirations
The telco service providers are thinking out loud about how they'd like to join the ranks of cloud service providers. CenturyLink and Verizon are already there, with their purchases of Savvis and Terremark cloud service suppliers, respectively, last year. More would like to get into the business.
I've wondered why they didn't do so sooner, given their worldwide investments in data centers to serve their large customer bases. Their data centers in some ways don't look so different from the large, "invented exclusively by us" centers built by Google, Yahoo, Amazon, and Microsoft. Still, I pull up short of believing that an AT&T or a Telefonica is about to supply infrastructure as a service that's competitive with Amazon Web Services, GoGrid, or Rackspace.
But what if the telcos took a different tack? Amazon Web Services and other first-generation cloud suppliers were all builders of large-scale data centers making their services available over the Internet. So far, the debate over cloud computing, with only one or two isolated exceptions, has presumed cloud services will be dispensed over the public Internet.
What if the telcos, with their large inventory of sometimes underutilized network capacity, generated a common carrier Ethernet WAN that carried traffic, much like the Internet, over switches and routers that were not open to the public? Such a private alternative to the Internet at first blush sounds like it could never compete with free services. But Ralph Santioro, a founding member of the Metro Ethernet Forum, and director of carrier Ethernet market development at Fujitsu, clearly thought there were uses for such a private, Ethernet network.
In a talk at the Carrier Forum, a concurrent event at CloudConnect Monday, said the Internet is the WAN that delivers cloud services "but there's surprisingly little attention paid to it by the cloud community." That is to say, the cloud community loves to talk about the services it can invent. The telecom community would spend more time talking about how the network could make the services better.
That potentially leaves an opening for telcos to re-invent the cloud for the private enterprise in ways that: make network quality of service an option of cloud services; offer more guarantees of data security through denial of public access (users are purchasers of the service); and provide more private data center-types of guarantees on application performance and security.
As I've tried to point out before in the cases of Terremark and Savvis, a cloud supplier with its telco owner suddenly has the option of becoming a data chain of data centers linked together with a point-and-click choice by a customer. Such links could provide automated backup and recovery from a separate geographical area for a customer, and allow cloud services to maintain higher availability through the option of shifting workloads away from a trouble spot.
Cloud services from a global, common-carrier Ethernet network may yet emerge, not so much as a challenge to Amazon Web Services' dominant EC2, but as a completely different way of delivering cloud services.
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