Cloud week

(El Alamein 1942: British Matilda tanks move forward at Tobruk)

This is an interesting week. And the battle for the cloud has increased its intensity.

We had Microsoft reveal its Cloud Stratey on the PDC with Azure. We also had the debate between Tim O´Reilly and Nick Carr, which I touched briefly upon.

Today I find further interesting pieces (via). Tim Bray discusses “The Shape of the Cloud“, and is reminded of Altavista (the dominating search-engine that was before Google, ya know?). But he mentions very important topics which he believes are true:

Monopolies Don’t Require Lock-in

Low Barriers to Entry Win

Economies of Scale

CIOs Aren’t Stupid

and the analogy to Altavista:

Amazon Web Services smells like Altavista to me; a huge step in a good direction. But there are some very good Big Ideas waiting out there to launch, probably incubating right now in a garage or grad school.

Such an idea doesn’t have to come from a big company. And it doesn’t have to be proprietary to grow fast and dominate the landscape. It has to have no aroma of lock-in, it has to be obviously better, and most of all, more than anything else, it has to be really, really easy to get started with.

And he is absolutely right.

Eric Larson adds another important point:

The essence is that we haven’t quite found the sweet spot for deploying apps to the cloud.

I would imagine there will be two progressions that will allow deployment on the cloud become mainstream. The first is languages will create a simple way to wrap up an application with all its libraries, much like a desktop application. The second is that cloud service providers will change from supporting a language or virtual machine to supporting a process. The idea is that if I can take my web app, zip it up and throw it on their server with a simple bash script they can monitor and scale by adding more processes, then it seems feasible we might see could computing environments that are essentially like the current wealth of shared hosting services.

Being able to start small is going to be the killer feature of the next generation cloud platforms. We are not there yet, but folks seem to be quickly narrowing in on hitting that sweet spot.

Fully agreed.

Update: I had it open in another tab, but forgot to include here. Microsoft has yesterday on PDC also showed their offering for Office functionality on the web that is supposed to compete against Google Apps, Zoho and alike. Nick comments:

The battle is joined. The outcome will be determined not only by whether Microsoft will be able to maintain its dominance of the Office market but also by whether it can maintain the outsized revenues and profits it has long enjoyed in that market.

Interesting times, really.

Update 2:

Vinnie asks “Wrong Side or Wrong Cloud?” and links to Bob Warfield who summarizes the debate between Nick Carr and Tim O´Reilly: Cloud Computing Network Effects, Or Why Tim O’Reilly and Nick Carr Are Both Wrong. It started with a post from Hugh McLeod: “the cloud’s best-kept secret“. He blieves that cloud computing will lead to a huge monopoly. Time will tell.

Finally, Nick adds a typology of network strategies. Interesting reads, all of them.