Cloud Computing from Your Mobile


(T) We get our music from iTunes, we connect with friends through Facebook, we publish our professional bios on LinkedIn, we find our directions through Google Maps, we share our pictures on Flick , we share our videos on YouTube, we check our e-mails on Yahoo! Mail, we phone with Skype, we IM with Yahoo! Messager, we send updates through Twitter, we search for knowledge on Wikipedia, we buy and sell stuff on Craigslist, we…

At the same time, companies are buying CPU at $0.10 per hour and storage at $0.10 per Gb per month from Amazon Web Services, developing their office documents through Google Docs, getting their ERP system from NetSuite, managing their customer leads with and supporting their customers through RightNow and…

Welcome to the world of Cloud Computing where information and applications are on-demand! Welcome to our world!

The elasticity of Cloud Computing can provide a Web service to a few or hundreds of millions of consumers or 100 servers for one hour or 100 hours of one server to a business.

And, what is different this time is that new computing technologies are first getting traction by consumers, brought to the office and later adopted by businesses.

Each major evolution of the computing industry has been shaped by new applications that were enabled by new clients, new servers and new networking technologies. And each time, those applications have been scaling to more and more users. In the 80s, PCs, Mini-Computers and Ethernet replaced mainframes by providing client/server applications to enterprises. In the 90s, the Internet provided Web pages (hypertext documents) without any boundaries to everyone on the planet. Today, our new application is Cloud Computing. The new client is any mobile device. The new servers are distributed data centers that can be accessed through any wireless networks and the Internet.

The Cloud Applications, Web Services for Consumers, SaaS for Enterprises

All Web Services for consumers or Software as a Service (SaaS) for enterprises will have to be provided from the “cloud” as a utility service. It is the most efficient way to deliver, update and tailor any product and service offering. The life cycle of technology-based products is very short. Products are outdated as soon as they are launched. Cloud applications provide to the user the latest product always-on without any switching costs. And, those products can target  “The Long Tail” or many diversified and particular market segments.

The economics strongly play in favor of cloud computing and the business model for cloud applications is straightforward: subscription-based or usage-based. The economics works for the users: a lower cost for the service since the investments in the infrastructure are shared among the various users and no start-up costs are required. For the provider, the start-up costs into the infrastructure are huge but profits come when the service scale and is massively used. Providers have two operational models. Either they owned themselves their infrastructures such as Google and IBM are doing and they amortize their investments by providing multiple Web services to a large number of customers. Or they focus on developing and marketing their services such as many small social networks or SaaS providers are doing and outsourcing the underlying infrastructure to companies such as 3tera.

The Cloud Clients, the iPhone, and the Notebooks

The iPhone, the BlackBerry, and the Android are the new generations of notebooks, where the phone is one of many features. Mobile devices are today more powerful than desktop PCs were 8 or 10 years ago. Their successes rely on a combination of new OSs, processors, memory, and displays. The 17 millions of iPhones users have thousands of applications to choose from. Shuttle dispatchers at San Francisco Airport (SFO) are using their feature phones to find out your online shuttle reservation. New services such as Qik or Flixwagon are providing streaming video services from your iPhone to other iPhones or other computers. Imagine every iPhone users broadcasting from his or her iPhone a real-time video to thousands or millions of other users at any time, anywhere in the world. When you get mobile computing power, new cloud applications are spreading at the speed of light. Many kids all over the world are developing iPhone applications every day. And, cloud applications are likely to drive at the client new Web 2.0 technologies, new social browsers such as Flock or faster browsers such as Google Chrome.

The Cloud Infrastructure, the Datacenter, the Internet and the Wireless Network

The goal of the cloud infrastructure is to provide computing resources available on demand. Its architecture is pretty straightforward. It comprises the cloud service, the cloud computing platform to host the Web service, the cloud database or storage, and the cloud management for provisioning and metering the Web service. It leverages extensively present data center technology.  A key technology of the cloud infrastructure is virtualization which provides virtual environments to isolate and partition the services and the applications and maximize the efficiency of the underlying physical computing resources. To reduce huge costs, many cloud infrastructure providers are leveraging open source software in particular Linux for the OS, Xen for virtualization, Apache Hadoop for file management and MySQL for the database. And data centers are moving where power and space are cheap and are benefiting of GreenTech technologies to reduce energy costs. The cloud infrastructure needs to provide low application latency, scale to millions of users, be always available and ideally enable secure transactions and protect user privacy. A lot of requirements that will take time to be completely fulfilled. Access to the cloud is driven by wireless networks in particular 3G/4G wide area cellular networks and WiFi 802.11n networks that are on their ways to provide gigabit links.

Both Amazon that has leveraged his online infrastructure and Google that has leveraged his search engine infrastructure have been successful in expanding their core businesses with new Web services. A lot of new start-ups are emerging to provide new approaches to the core infrastructure such as 3Tera, OpSourceMossoJoyent or specific cloud technologies such as Enomaly,  RightScaleElastra or Enki. And, as it was the case for the emerging Internet and Java, 15 to 10 years ago, every major IT supplier is moving to Cloud Computing such IBM and Sun.

Note 1: The picture above is Combourg in Brittany, France the home of Francois-Rene Chateaubriand who grew up in a castle in the middle of the city.

Note 2: Combourg has a great bookstore: “Tournez La Page”.

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Categories: Cloud, Front-End