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SOA 2008: Googling cloud computing

To get driving directions, one evening, our reporter employed the great compute cloud known as Google. There then arose some thoughts on the random nature of some forms of cloud computing.

As I headed out on the road for, I needed driving directions. Needed to find the bucolic burgh of, well let's call it Medfordshire, Massachusetts. Where it is does not really matter.

To get driving directions, the evening previous to this excursion, I employed the great compute cloud known as Google. I asked this learned hand for instructions, and printed out a map that told me to proceed from my home in Boston's Mission Hill, and take Route 95 North, etc.

Everything is going well. It is the next morning. Time to go. Alas, I'd left my Google Map print out back at the office. No problem, of course, I go online and get directions again.

After heading to Route 95 I pull out the directions and discover Google has computed a completely different set of plans to take me from and to the same end points. I put on my human hat and successfully made the trip. No problem. But it did get me to thinking about the compute cloud.

Clearly, somewhat random results work in some cases. But, a lot of enterprise computing must provide far more solid results.

Google is a prime example of the compute cloud. Google is a success and that success has rubbed off on the notion of cloud computing. But, my experience is that, while Google can provide results, the Google cloud is somewhat random, and not perfectly reliable. If the 125th result on a Google search was dead wrong, who would know?

How do we analyze something like cloud? It garnered a lot of media attention this year. But most accounts likely glossed over shortcomings.

In the case of Google, the company has a program model and home-grown DB you must work around or with. Python is the language you use, so put an ad in the paper or go down to Barnes & Noble. Yes, there are vendors offering work-arounds, better analyze their offerings too. It is not easy to get a line on the end-use of the Google cloud. For Google, right now, it's cloud is basically the platform for its messaging and collaboration offerings.

Note that Forrester analyst John Rymer chooses the term 'hosted provider' rather than 'cloud' – if you do the same, you can immediately bring greater cloudy to this fuzzy topic. Note too, of course, that Amazon, SalesForce, Microsoft and others offer cloud software that differs widely from Google's. Many eyes are on an IBM alliance with Google aimed at cloud computing. To date, the evidence has been that this work has been mostly targeted at scientific applications.

How will the cloud fare in an economic downturn? Vendors say it is just what the doctor ordered. You buy compute cycles on demand just in time. I would suggest that there is a high probability that this is an oversimplification. That doesn't mean that technologists should not pursue cloud computing. In fact, offers some of this year's cloud coverage in a handy Cloud computing mini-guide aggregation for your perusal.

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