View Single Post
Old 21st September 2012, 07:46 PM
mattdm Offline
Registered User
Join Date: Jun 2005
Location: Somerville, MA
Posts: 13
Re: Fedora's Cloud Future (and, self (re-)introduction)

Originally Posted by billybob linux View Post
In my view “ The Cloud” is simply the re-branding or re-making of an old computing concept, with its origins going back to the days of the mainframe.
I agree that this is a swing of the large pendulum that goes between centralization and decentralization in computing. It's not just a rehash of time sharing, though. Scale, as you say, is an important aspect, but there's more. There's a recent NIST definition, which puts forth these essential characteristics:
  • On-demand self-service
  • Broad network access
  • Resource pooling
  • Rapid elasticity
  • Measured service

There's something different here than just scale and beyond just mainframe→datacenter. The whole document above worth reading (it's really less than 2 pages long), but I also recommend the "OSSM" definition (outlined in this Rackspace blog article:
  • On-demand: the server is already setup and ready to be deployed
  • Self-service: you chooses what you want, when you want it
  • Scalable: You can choose how much you want and ramp up if necessary
  • Measurable: there’s metering and reporting so you know you are getting what you pay for

I guess we could quibble about how this is or isn't different from timesharing, but either way, that shift from mainframe to minicomputers to PCs was a shake-up, and there's plenty of reason to believe that this will be too.

However as others have pointed out the advantages (economy of scale, flexibility of capacity, etc) I would be asking if there are standards in place, will vendor lock-in be an issue, the potential for access to data to be restricted if new terms by providers can’t be agreed upon, quality of service guarantees, security of data, how the data might be used. As more data is stored in the “Cloud” how long will it be before governments will start demanding access to it, and what about the different standards of data use and storage around the world ?
Yes, these are all huge issues and we need to make sure the open source and free software world has a meaningful voice in that future. Some people are already arguing that free software is now irrelevant, and that open data and open apis take its place. I'm not so sure that's the case.

---------- Post added at 02:35 PM ---------- Previous post was at 02:28 PM ----------

Originally Posted by DBelton View Post
About the only time I would even think about using cloud services is if I were in control of the servers.

As already stated above, I see it as a major security risk to hand my data over to unknown servers to be processed by unknown software, and possibly ending up in unknown locations.

I really don't see the point in it, either. At least not for individuals. Large companies might benefit some by consolidating their hardware and software, making upgrades and maintenance simpler, but for the average user, not a single benefit, and numerous drawbacks.
Consumer-level benefits are probably more in the software-as-a-service aspect of the cloud. What to do about that from a Linux distribution's perspective may actually be the hardest aspect — doing things like making ideal Fedora images to run in EC2 and packaging up OpenStack are a lot of work, but they're the kind of work we're used to and have well-oiled processes for handling.

As for data security: definitely a risk, although at least from a small business point of view (and probably also for non-technical users) it's easy to overestimate the security of a local but networked computing system.

---------- Post added at 02:46 PM ---------- Previous post was at 02:35 PM ----------

Originally Posted by Bazu135 View Post
I'll add my voice to the sceptics' camp too. I can see how the Cloud would be beneficial for large organisations, universities etc, but I see absolutely no benefit for me as a home user (quite the opposite; I expect it would inconvenience me), nor for the company I work for - our offices include 20 workstations, and at any given time a maximum fifteen of them are in use; some days there are only 7-8 in use. This therefore means we don't have particularly large amounts of network traffic nor particularly large volumes of data to store - not even 1TB at present. A large quantity of that data is sensitive, though, and I've not seen anything that convinces me our data would be more secure stored on someone else's servers.
Actually, I think small companies have a lot to benefit. Cloud computing is the hot thing for tech startups, where low initial investment and high scalability are killer. But I think your example also provides something to think about — you've got 20 workstations, but are using less than half of the capacity. In fact, since you're probably not 24/7, you may be using as little as an eighth of what you've got sitting around. And since your network and data needs are small, the cost of getting things in and out is correspondingly small.

From a business perspective, data security is a problem of risk management, for legal reasons, business continuity reasons, and of course reputation. These things can all be managed. From a compliance point of view, having a legal agreement with a big cloud provider might even be preferable.

Now, from a Fedora perspective, maybe there's some particular things we can do to help address the data security concern.
Matthew Miller, Fedora Project Leader
Reply With Quote