Cloud Computing Advocates Detail Its Future

Amazon CTO Werner Vogels, Sun Microsystems CTO Greg Papadopolous, and Marc Benioff, CEO of speculate on cloud computing's future.
The launch came off without a hitch and Facebook signed up one million User Names users in the first hour, Heiliger said.

Cloud computing will prompt new skills in application developers and wean them from their dependence on relational databases, predicted members of a panel on, "From Databases to Dataspaces."

"Application developers don't usually target Hadoop as part of their applications," said Jeff Hammerbacher, chief scientist at Cloudera, a Burlingame, Calif., a firm founded to provide technical support of the Apache Hadoop Project's technology. Hadoop is open source code, based on Amazon's MapReduce, which understands how data is distributed across a large cluster of computers and attempts to assign tasks to be executed on a node close to the data.

Asked what was another impediments to Web applications in the cloud, Richard Buckingham, VP of technical operations at MySpace, answered, "Spinning disks. They haven't gotten any faster in ten years," but flash-based devices have yet to achieve the scale and reliability needed to support cloud applications, he said. Najam Ahmad, general manager of Global Networking Services at Microsoft, agreed disk drives were an antiquated technology.

He added cloud vendors such as Microsoft have had to come up with a new hierarchy of data based on its impact on the business. Microsoft now rates data, such as personal information and credit card numbers as "high impact" data, other types as medium or low impact data, he said.

Paul Sagan, president and CEO of Akamai, the content distribution network, says Akamai is responsible for routing 6-7 million requests for content a second, 300 billion per day. It maintains distributed content on 50,000 servers in 2,000 countries, and builds maps of the fastest Internet segments over which to route the requests.

Delivering content used to have to overcome latency problems in the first mile of routing or the last mile to the end user. But those problems have largely disappeared. "Now all the problems are in the middle mile. We know where the fastest segments are. We understand air traffic control for the Internet," he said.

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