Tuesday 22 March 2011

Todays thoughts on the Cloud!

Just been reading this article http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-12779201

Theres a few things in there to think about, the first is this statement "Shifting the computing workload to a cloud provider is more efficient. Companies like Rackspace or Amazon run their cloud servers at 75% or even 90% of capacity. That's both greener and cheaper." Well, I think they need to clarify this statement, sure Amazon do run their servers at 75-90% capacity but what does that mean, does it mean that the processor is running at 75-90% of capacity?, does it mean that the memory is being used at 75-90% of its capacity or does it means that the disks are running at 75-90% of capacity, and as for being greener and cheaper, well we need to know "than what exactly?"

Non Cloud
Lets take a corporate user in an office, they are using a desktop, they need to access a service running on a server in the computer room in the basement. the actual pathway looks a bit like this:

Desktop - Local Switch - Core Switch - Server* - Service
* There may be more than one server to route through dependent on authorisation protocols


Desktop - Local Switch - Core Switch - Server - Internet Access Server - Internet Routers* - Internet Core Router - Local Switch - Server - Service

* There may be more than one internet router dependant on where the service located (unlikely to be more than 9 though)
Now, the switches in the path will be being used by more than one user, but this is the same in both examples, the server and services will also be used by more than one user.
As you can see the amount of equipment being used is a lot more in the cloud example than in the non cloud example, and in fact in both examples the corporate equipment is still being used.
So when the BBC state that the solution is greener and cheaper, are they taking into account the device being used to access the cloud service?, is it efficient? are they taking into account the corporate access device? are they taking into account the additional switches and routers required to access the service? Or, are they merely comparing the cost of the server/sevice element, sure it probably is greener and cheaper, but thats because its likely to be newer and therefore marginally more energy efficient over previous models but still in the 550w range, and cheaper because the cloud service supplier is working it hard, working something harder usually means that it breaks down quicker, ermmm.
Many Big Consultancies have published research on Cloud Computing and they usually nearly always state that the solution is greener, but look to the back pages and review the assumptions made, work it out using your own setup as a guide and ask the questions of the cloud supplier.

Finally, the closing paragraph is a quote from someone who wants to sell you cloud computing services "John Manley, in charge of cloud computing at HP Labs in the UK, says that "we are in the foothills of cloud computing and going towards Mount Everest".
I dont want to rain on John's Parade, but how many people have attempted to climb Everest and failed, many have died,  true most people who enter the cloud wont die, but they may be comitting professional suicide!

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