Thursday, September 17, 2009

Datacenters = Today's Mainframe?

I have often spoken of how I love the green screen! Nostalgia aside, a mainframe computer was (and still is) a scalable solution, if you needed to run more programs you cut out another logical partition also known as a LPAR. LPARs were first used on old systems like the IBM ESA/390 circa mid 1980’s. Eventually you had to add more processors, memory, and disk space to your mainframe –alas buy it by the drink!

I often hear this phase; buy it by the drink. I often wonder what it really means. In looking to the past, I know this task was accomplished with mainframes. Every CIO that I know of wants to employ the “buy the drink” idea. Question is how do their direct reports develop a solution and execute that solution? I think this is going to require some thinking out of the box. Cloud computing or grid computing is a solution for a "buy it by the drink" requirement.

The boundary of a system should be the datacenter, inside it is chuck full of storage, processors, and memory. Google takes one 62u cabinet full of Linux Servers and they operate as one logical system. Imagine rows and rows of these machines operating as one super computer, one system. Google has taken the datacenter and transformed it into one computing system. Furthermore Google has developed multiple datacenters that load balance and provide Disaster Recovery to their computing enterprise.

When you step back and look at this concept, it seems very simple. The challenge is that many CIO shops are stuck in a paradigm. The paradigm is as follows:
Outsource the datacenters
Dictate architectural standards i.e. no virtualization, separate systems etc.
Imagine going to Outback and demanding to see your food getting cooked or telling the cook what pot to cook it in! Bottom line, keep out of the kitchen and let the service provider serve up your apps.

In order for cloud computing to work, the vendor needs to deliver a service model. They need to deliver it like a menu, for instance the Outback Special costs X and an “add on” lobster tail will cost X more (I think I am hungry for Outback). From my point of view there is a ton of money to be made with cloud computing, Google is already doing it. When someone can figure out how to deliver this concept to the Federal Government, they (and their company) will become very rich.
Here is the paradigm that needs to be broken:
1. Who cares about the hardware (Servers, switches, storage)
2. Who cares about virtual versus physical hardware
3. Yes, the cloud can be secured to FISMA standards

Build it and they will come, or if you are in the government –bid it and they will come!

1 comment:

Paul Davis said...

I agree with your base thought, the devil is in the details. Developing the guidelines that are FAR and FISMA compliant will be the enabler. When EC2, Rainmaker...and other private clouds see the market advantage to be on GSA then your vision will be here. If a service model is provided it needs to provide for full life cycle of apps development.

I still think the future of cloud will reside on our cell phones. ;-)