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Next generation of Cloud Applications

According to Friday’s Dec 2, 2001,  Wall Street Journal , Google will have a 1-day shipping service to challenge Amazon’s Prime service . The news reminded me of some great talks I was able to attend at CA World 2011 in Las Vegas.  One of the talks was by Dr. Timothy Chou of Stanford University on Cloud computing applications. Another was by Cisco VP Marie Hattar on the impact of an intelligent network on our lives. The third was on the future of application development by CA Technologies CTO Dr. Ferguson, who I knew from working in the WebSphere organization at IBM.

Dr. Chou’s talk was in three parts -- namely the economics of the Software business, kinds of applications possible with cloud computing, and the new generation of cloud applications. The service Google is embarking on is precisely the kind of application we can expect where software provides a context sensitive service while understanding the customer’s needs.  Dr. Chou illustrated the evolution of software delivery starting with the traditional license model to open source software, then to outsourcing and finally Software as a Service. He showed the economic efficiency of Cloud computing (Software as a Service).

He went on to state that the ad-based revenue model that Google has embraced allows them to deliver the search software to users at a fraction of the cost of the traditional license model.  In the second part of the talk, Dr. Chou described how cloud computing innovation lies in the business model and not just technology.  He identified application services that can benefit the most from the cloud model, namely high growth applications and those that have highly variable demand characteristics.  He speculated that cloud services would be specialized and differentiated based on location, performance and innovative business models such as spot pricing.

He provided a more granular framework to think about cloud computing than the SPI (SaaS, PaaS, IaaS) model. Essentially Infrastructure as a Service was broken down to Network, Data Center and Compute & Storage Services.  Platform as a Service was broken into Software Development and Operational management services. Software as a service was specialized as Application services for specific business needs.  Not surprisingly, he mentioned how Consumerization of IT is driving innovation into the enterprise through applications like Facebook.

Dr. Chou specifically called out applications that incorporate user information and human intelligence into business processes.  He reiterated a theme, which allows applications to be created by non-programmers who use their domain expertise to start innovative services. It is therefore no surprise that we see middle school kids developing iphone applications. I was however surprised when my daughter said her elementary school classmate was going to get the Apple Xcode toolset to develop iPhone games.

In her session, Cisco Marketing VP Marie Hattar directed the spotlight on different things we do today on the internet.  She discussed the importance of the network with more (50 billion and counting) sensors (tags, cars) sourcing external data.  She highlighted how video traffic will increase and spotlighted the use of technology in various industries like Healthcare, Banking and even proximity-based dating.  Mobile applications are used by doctors for patient care.  Nurses spend a lot of time locating doctors, equipment and technologies such as RFID and mobile presence save time.  All this was inline with a NPR report I recently heard on doctors in India advising and consulting with patients tens of miles away on telepresence sessions.  She also illustrated an example of getting expert opinion using telepresence for quicker business decision-making.  An intelligent network helps bring geographically distributed knowledge-centric teams together. Better information where they need it when they need it.  Ms. Hattar also highlighted the intelligence in Power over Ethernet technology to conserve energy by shutting down appliances not being used.

The keynote session by Dr. Don Ferguson gave me a good peek into how CA Technologies was capitalizing on the changes in the Data Center and moving towards a business service centric model.  The session was geared towards a 10x improvement in IT services.

According to him, there are five components to this approach

  1. Model – describing what the service is rather than how the service is delivered
  2. Assemble – bringing assets together, finding, configuring and customizing them
  3. Automate – making the Model and Assembly real, reliable, repeatable and predictable
  4. Assure – monitoring performance and service levels of the business services
  5. Secure – an all-encompassing security framework for the components

You can check these talks out at their virtual show website.

The CA World show predominantly used Cisco Networking and Data Center products including the Cisco UCS (Unified Computing System) to power IT services for the show management.

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