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Thursday, June 26, 2008

The 4th Wave of computing.... is a (cirrus) cloud

The recent Xconomy Forum - The Realities of Cloud Computing, brought together thought leaders from all aspects of IT advancement: Big companies and startups; investors and educators; scientists and authors; and we discussed and debated the realities of commodity reliable infrastructure to serve the needs of all businesses and consumers.

The cloud, driven by four big things, none of which are hype, and all of which are changing the way we compute.

  1. Power and cooling are expensive. Today, it costs far more to run computers than it does to buy them in the first place. To save on power, we’re building data centers near dams; for cooling, we’re considering using decommissioned ships. This is about economics and engineering.
  2. Demand is global. Storage itself may be cheap, but data processing at scale is hard to do. With millions of consumers using a service, putting data next to computing is the only way to satisfy them.
  3. Computing is ubiquitous. We’ve lost our desktop affinity. Most of the devices in the world that can access the Internet aren’t desktops; they’re cell phones. Keeping applications and content on a desktop isn’t just old-fashioned — it’s inconvenient.
  4. Applications are built from massive, smart parts. Clouds give developers building blocks they couldn’t build themselves, from storage to authentication to friend feeds to CRM interfaces, letting coders stand on the shoulders of giants.
Many parallels have been drawn between the dawning age of cloud computing, and Bill Gates retirement from Microsoft last week. One era passes to the next: the 3rd wave of computing, which was dominated by heavy client server applications and a legacy IT mindset, is now shifting to the 4th wave, which is embracing on-demand infrastructure and applications that deliver just-in-time functionality at a reasonable cost. This is the beauty and the promise of cloud computing to solve more and more IT pain points. All the while preserving security and reliability to the satisfaction of more and more enterprises looking to leap ahead of the status quo.

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