I had the opportunity to attend Google’s Data Center Efficiency Summit. During the summit, Google took some of the mystery of their data center operations. In addition to a number of presenters, Google displayed one of their custom server models. It is an interesting approach where the server itself holds the battery that provides redundancy.
Videos and presentations from the Google Data Center Efficiency Summit have been posted to YouTube. Here are links to them:
What is a data center fabric? Can this be related to how electric generation started? What about the electric grid? Can we expect to see a compute grid develop? Where do classical operating systems come in? If there is a migration process for companies from IaaS to PaaS (and to SaaS), will the significance of operating systems diminish? As we see the market mature, the answer is certain to be yes. That is not to say that operating systems will go away. But for most applications, the priority will be on the platforms.
In order to look forward, we have to first look back and ask ourselves the purpose of the operating system. In the most basic sense, we needed a common way for applications to interface with the physical hardware resources they were consuming. Fast forward to the cloud era. What do applications need to interface with? Depending on the level they’re working at (SaaS or PaaS), they’re only concerned with the platform they are developed for…not the hardware resources they are consuming.
One could ask where the concern about hardware resources comes in. That is where we will start to see a type of cloud operating system develop. However, unlike stand-alone operating systems of today, cloud operating systems will adopt a mesh-like integration. They can run as easily as a single resource as they can a combined (and shared) resource. This cloud resource provides the abstraction layer between hardware resources and the applications/ platforms that consume them. Hence, a cloud computing fabric starts to develop.
The fabric becomes a common resource pool that can dynamically allocate resources to the services and applications as needed. As the market matures, so will the adoption of cloud-based operating systems. And eventually the size and number of private systems (and those operating systems) will decrease. This is not unlike the changes to the power generation facilities moving into the 1900’s.
Is there an advantage for early adopters to this migration? Yes. Early adopters will drive the architectures that develop. Sure, there are risks to consider, but those can be mitigated.
I’m in the process of setting up this blog. Expect more information along with presentations, links and thoughts on IT strategic issues including:
Death of the Data Center