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Cloud Expo: Interview

US Federal Government is Major Cloud Computing Innovator

Cloud Computing is about the effective utilization of compute resources as a shared entity

"Many people don't realize - or forget - that some of our greatest advancements in the 20th century grew out of innovation in the space and intel programs in the Federal government. We may be returning to that with regard to Cloud Computing." 

In this brief interview with SYS-CON's Cloud Computing Journal, in the run-up to the 4th International Cloud Computing Conference & Expo, the industry commentator and  Sr. Principal Architect with QinetiQ North America's Mission Systems Group, JP Morgenthal, discusses Cloud Computing, service-orientation, SaaS/PaaS and the "missing" Cloud resource: the network.

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Here are some of the other questions asked and answered during the interview:

Cloud Computing Journal: Where do you think Cloud Computing will make its impact most noticeably in 2010?

JP Morgenthal: Interesting question. The Federal government has stepped up into the hype machine in a big way, and demonstrating a major leap into the 21st century, but their public usage is still circa 2001. Their unpublicized usage however may be a different story. While we cannot see the actual applications being built, there's hiring recs out for Top Secret with lifestyle/polygraph clearances and requirements for experience working with the Intelligence community to do large-scale cloud computing with technologies like Hadoop.

Many people don't realize - or forget - that some of our greatest advancements in the 20th century grew out of innovation in the space and intel programs in the Federal government. We may be returning to that with regard to Cloud Computing. If anyone is going to figure out how to use these things in a secure and reliable manner, while mitigating global threats it's going to be our Intel community.

Cloud Computing Journal: What is the biggest category of user is not using the Cloud right now, who ought to be?

Morgenthal: I believe the biggest user right now is first, SaaS users. The community using SalesForce.com, RightNow Technologies and NetSuite supersedes the number of users doing anything else with the Cloud at this time. However, its worthy to mention that the Cloud seems to be having a major impact for technology start-ups, allowing them to deliver a scalable solution without significant up-front capital expenditures for hardware.

That said, as someone who did a technology PaaS startup, and leveraged hosting services, the majority of my funding went into marketing and sales anyway. More interesting than the hardware though, because that's so completely commoditized and relatively cheap, it's the telecommunications and backup costs that were the real cost savings for me using Cloud services.

Cloud Computing Journal: Who in your view are the Top Five Companies in the Cloud as at Fall 2009?

Morgenthal: My top five picks would be:

Google
Microsoft
IBM
Amazon
SalesForce.com

Cloud Computing Journal
: How important is SOA to the Cloud, and vice versa?

Morgenthal: Service-huh? I so get a kick out of the SOA/Cloud discussions and how the Cloud cannot succeed without SOA. What a hoot! So, we can't provide virtualized servers and applications over a public internet or through the data center without first doing SOA? Which poorly-defined term is modifying which poorly-defined term in this universe?

I wish pundits and so-called experts would be more explicit in communicating their ideas instead of using blanket terms like SOA and Cloud Computing. If people are saying that the governance processes we have derived for the delivery and support of services around an SOA initiative are also important in the delivery of Cloud Computing services, e.g. SaaS, PaaS, etc., then I'm okay with that statement. If they're saying we need and Enterprise Service Bus (ESB) to make all the stuff in the Cloud work, then they really need to move to a new line of work.

Cloud Computing Journal: Lastly, why do you think the network - and bandwidth - is always ignored as a Cloud resource, when it's the lifeblood of the Cloud?

Morgenthal: We talk about virtualization of server platforms and storage, but never include network in this. Perhaps the thinking is that IP just works and it's part of the substrate, but it needs to be effectively managed. Creating virtual networks and managing bandwidth requirements across them is just as an important aspect of provisioning as is storage, CPU and memory.

What if I know I'm going to have a high-traffic period, I should be able to increment the bandwidth from 1.5 Mbps to 6 Mbps and then turn it back down when I'm done. The interfaces I've seen from these Cloud vendors so far don't provide this level of control over the network. My belief is that they don't own those resources, the lease them from telco providers and it's too expensive to have an OC12 just lying around unused, so they lease a DS3 and hope for the best. Which just goes to show, the telco providers still hold all this stuff by the balls!

More Stories By Jeremy Geelan

Jeremy Geelan is Chairman & CEO of the 21st Century Internet Group, Inc. and an Executive Academy Member of the International Academy of Digital Arts & Sciences. Formerly he was President & COO at Cloud Expo, Inc. and Conference Chair of the worldwide Cloud Expo series. He appears regularly at conferences and trade shows, speaking to technology audiences across six continents. You can follow him on twitter: @jg21.

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