Cloud and Desktop Virtualization


Benny's Blog has an interesting article about virtualization (specifically desktop virtualization) and the cloud.

Benny is not as sure, that cloud will be the future.

I tend to agree. Benny, perhaps we need to shine a bit more light into what cloud is and what the roles of the different corners of the industry will be in the cloud.

First, it seems obvious, that cloud computing is a hype.
Second, it seems obvious, that many of those, that one meets at cloud conferences, CloudCamps, you-name-it, are highly enthusiastic about the Cloud. So, it's not strange to observe, that you seem a bit out-of-place in such a setup.

But: First things first. It's always important, to segment the market: Here, with cloud computing, we have: a.) Users of the cloud, b.) provider of apps in the cloud, c.) provider of the cloud, d.) provider of tools to build a cloud.

Many, many, years ago, it' been predicted, that the Mainframe would die. IBM still lives quite well in building and enhancing that piece of dinosaur technology, so, a statement like "in five years time, all desktop apps will be replaced by apps from the cloud" is as correct as the statement, that the mainframe is dead.

We also know, that putting things into a cloud does offer new challenges: 1.) Latency, 2.) Trust, 3.) Security.

You don't want to have to transmit every single bit via handshake back and forth. Some apps really do require short such shakehand-cycles. They simply are not easy (if at all) to be put into the cloud. (Example: Sending data via a pidgeon can still be faster then sending it via high speed network, use the math!).

You don't want to put all your information, data, whatever to somebody, that you do not trust. Just google for the Sidekick desaster that Microsoft had with T-Mobile and Danger.

And, you also have to segment the user population: I.) End-user and II.) Corporate-User. They also have differing buying patterns, and therefore I also agree that a statement like "in five years time, all apps will be coming from the cloud" is simply wrong.

Still, cloud computing offers options, and they will be persued. That will have an effect on the classical desktop, that's for sure. But, I doubt, that that alone will change the usage. I think, that more changes will come form the advances in mobile computing, especially on the PDA/Mobile Phone. You have a smaller screen real estate, you have worse keyboards, but many tasks can still be done very well on such a device. Classical things, like pure email-Web-Frontends might die, because most will be reading their emails directly from the phone.

So, what does that make of Microsoft and their classical desktop approach? They will still survive, quite nicely, and for way more then 5 or ten years. Because change in corporate infrastructures don't happen over night... And people are lazy...

The Cloud idea itself will help shape the way datacenters are build, and the way, services in datacenters are deployed.

On a mainframe, there never has been the notion of "I need my own hardware for my services". They have always been shared, and trust has been, that that can be done securely.

In the Open Systems world, that notion changed to: "I need my own hardware for my jobs." Hardware was cheap, so that was doable. Nowadays we see, that operating cheap hardware gets more expensive then the hardware itself, so that trend is changing. We see (see also my last blog entry), that systems are way underutilized, and that therefore, there's a trend to consolidate stuff onto single systems. With virtualization underneath, that also works quite well.

So, cloud computing is more about a change in management of assets and services and billing for these things, then a change in usage of tools from the individual end-user.

So, rest assured, your job will still be there in five years time... ;-) But you might be targeting different types of customers...

Matthias
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