On Demand Computing Fabric

Jeff Nolan blogs from the Accel/SNRC symposium. Some interesting comments from Bill Coleman of Cassatt:

– where we came from: the computer model has been extended over 4 generations, nothing has really been replaced. The last wave set the stage for distributed computing.
– where we are: huge hype period, it will take a decade to happen. The “Whole Product Concept” has not been realized. Current hype on grid and network computing benefits vendors more than customers.
– 2 dislocations are coming, neither has hit inflection point. Grid is the first because it overturns the economics of hardware, but the economics are not currently there because the interconnects are still expensive. Over the next few years the experience will be sufficient to commoditize the expensive interconnects.
– the 2nd dislocation is the software. Loosely coupled web services enable the policy and business process to be disconnected from the underlying apps. This will undermine the economics for the customer, which will force an undermining of the incumbants.
– if this is a commodization business, only the commodity players win. 3 horizontal apps silos, customer side, supply chain, and ERP. These apps will dis-integrate.
– large storage and switch vendors will have to live on leaner margins. Turnover is coming that will reconfigure the industry.
– challenges in the SOA space are significant. It’s not simple, it’s not excepted as standards, small players need to come together in a platform play, and it’s not scaling yet.
– the network needs an operating system that is insensitive to scale, provide virtualization for storage, lan and apps, set business driven policy

Jeff Nolan thinks about the implications in another post:

It’s evident that customers want an abstraction layer between applications and hardware, this virtualization provides many opportunities for management points to proliferate. In some cases, the switch will be a port into which enterprise applications connect and integrate with other nodes on the network, shared services in the operating system, and hardware resources. In other cases, the switch point will be a management portal through which companies throttle up/down their capacity, manage resources, and implement security and policy with little operational disruption.

Just like we saw single points of management for networks and storage, it is logical to assume that management points for applications will proliferate.

The evolution to application grids enables the promise of grid computing, at least in terms of dramatically undermining the current economics of computing today.

The above summary is a technical disruption that will greatly evolve the way that enterprises deploy and manage applications, but it’s not a recipe for how they buy or pay for them. In fact, the limitation in existing grid models is the povisioning and billing; how do customers know what they are paying for, or even how much they are getting of something? It would be an unnatural act for any of the incumbant vendors to put forward a model that encourages customer churn.

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Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.