Today is Like 1973 Cloud Computing

Vint Cerf, a founder of the Internet back in the day and now a Google employee, says the situation today reminds him of the e-mail delivery situation in 1973. There aren’t yet universal standards for moving data around. Vendors need to work cooperatively so customers can easily move information between services. Until that happens, enterprises will exercise caution about moving vital data to the cloud. Cloud computing today is similar to the earliest days of snail mail delivery, when a nationwide network did not yet exist to reliably and expeditiously move letters from one location to another. From the need to deliver mail came peering, in the form of reciprocal agreements and flat rates. Mail began to be charged by weight. Address standards emerged. Standardized envelope sizes and stamps allowed for better handling and portability; the emergence of trains and steamships provided an improvement in infrastructure.

Today, Alex Williams, an editor for ReadWriteWeb says, “we need cloud peering in the form of reciprocal agreements and flat rates. Compatibility means open APIs and formats. Portability is about standard virtual machines and images. And better infrastructure is needed to reduce intercloud latency.”

It’s not tremendously complicated, and we are moving rapidly in the right direction. “Peering agreements can be relatively simple,” Williams says. Peering should be simplified, as most data centers are clustered in specific geographic regions. Tom Hughes-Croucher (Yahoo! Developer Network) and Carlos Bueno (Yahoo! Mail) point to the effects on carriers when SMS messages could freely flow between the networks. SMS message volume increased anywhere from 250 percent to 900 percent in the span of a short six months.30

As Hughes-Croucher says, lock-in is not just about APIs and data formats. “It’s a BIG mistake to think that lock-in has gone away because we have open-source software. There are some kinds of problems that you can’t program your way out of.” Vendors are listening.


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