Cloud Computing – An interview with David Linthicum

It has been noted in economics that the gradual progression and evolution of an economy starts with agriculture, then moves to manufacturing, and finally to services. Americans have been fortunate enough to see all three, and those of us who have been alive for more than the last 10 years have seen the transition from manufacturing to higher level services.

This progression has spawned a new generation of service-oriented billionaires from the “Google Guys” Larry Page and Sergey Brin, to the founder of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg. Services are becoming the main breadwinner of American economics, and when analyzed deeply enough will leave two words at the end of all our tongues, “What’s next?”

Cloud Computing as a concept is said to be the brainchild of John McCarthy, a computer scientist who also coined the term artificial intelligence and invented the Lisp programming language, when he said that one day computing may be organized very much like a public utility. McCarthy unfortunately passed away before his concept became as invasive as many of the public utilities we have already, but we are definitely approaching the movement with great momentum, and his concepts have allowed the next generation of thinkers to push the concepts forward to meet the eventual inevitability of cloud computing being added to the public utilities repertoire.

One of the great thinkers of our day in the world of cloud computing is David Linthicum, whose blog on the subject can be found at InfoWorld. He is the Chief Technology Officer at Blue Mountain Labs and the coauthor of 13 books on computing including the best-seller “Enterprise Application Integration” (Addison Wesley). One can derive from David’s actions that his life has been dedicated to the progress of cloud computing (a contemporary buzzword he says will one day be simply, “computing.”). David (Dave) was generous enough, despite his very busy schedule, to answer a few questions related to cloud computing for us:

Q: What is cloud computing? What are some of the potential benefits?

A: Cloud computing is a model of computing where we’re able to leverage computing resources on-demand. This means that we can allocate as many resources as we need, when we need them, and only pay for the resources we use. Cloud resources include storage, compute, and software, and even networking, security, and testing. The list grows each month. Cloud may exist outside of the enterprise, or public clouds, or inside of the enterprise, called private cloud.

The potential benefits include:
• The ability to only use and pay for only the resources you need.
• The ability to provision those resources on-demand.
• The ability to scale to massive loads.
• The ability to become more efficient and effective around costs and service to end-users.
• The ability to get systems up-and-running quickly, and mix and match resources required supporting those systems.
• The ability to become more agile. The ability to change quickly around changing business requirements.

Q: How will cloud computing effect PC makers like Dell and Apple?

A: More processing will move outside of the enterprise, thus we won’t have to upgrade PCs as often. I think they will show a lag in sales as cloud computing becomes more of a force. However, at the same time cloud providers, and those building private clouds, need cores for their data centers, and we’re seeing a increase in server sales right now. Thus, they could find that their business shifts, but continues to grow.

Q: How will the fast progress of cloud computing affect the online storage industry?

A: It shifts, but grows. The need for storage is significant, and growing all of the time. In many cases storage-as-a-service will solve the storage problem of enterprises, and we’ll see some movement in that direction considering the ease of use, the ability to self-provision, and the lower cost. However, keep in mind that no matter if you’re using a IaaS provider for storage-as-a-service, or a traditional storage provider, it’s still storage. The patterns remain the same; the models for delivery are changing however.

Q: What areas is cloud computing still (no pun intended!) lagging in?

It’s lagging in security and standards.

Security is catching up with the cloud right now, and we’re seeing many new and innovative approaches. However, it’s really around the experience of those deploying cloud solutions that needs improvement.

Standards are beginning to appear. Mostly around tactical areas of cloud computing, such as security, storage, and compute services. However, many cloud providers are slow to support them, or are just giving them lip services these days. I suspect a few will emerge shortly.


We really appreciate Dave sharing his expertise on the issues of the world of cloud computing, it’s benefits, its current drawbacks, and where we will stand in the coming years – Thanks Dave!

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