Beyond the clouds, What’s next ?
Since the early stages of computer science, we have bounced from distributed calculation capabilities to personal ones. First we used to get access to computers through mainframes and terminals. Then, thanks to IBM, we got personal computers. And now, the tendency is towards decentralisation again : between Nvidia and its online graphic rendering process and the cloud tendency, we are pulling back the data from personal computers. The question might be : what’s next?
To get to that answer one may wonder what are the problems that the cloud as it is, is raising? First it is hosted in centralised areas often far from the population using it. Facebook recently launched a big data center near the arctic pole, in Sweden to take advantage of the cold climate, not to waste too much energy on cooling. The center is powered by a hydraulic power plant to minimize damage to the environment. However, what about the whole backbone that they have built to get there and have decent bandwidth ? How about loading time for people far away from Sweden ? These are some questions that the current cloud model isn’t answering
This is the starting point of the “Beyond the cloud” initiative. The idea is to localise servers on the backbone junction points and make them behave like one big cloud. The main innovation lies in the fact that VM’s mounted on this cloud can be dynamically localized depending on where the charge comes from. For example : a local pizzeria in Paris makes a website and hosts it in the amazon cloud. The nearest amazon data center might be the London one. It sounds a bit silly that all clients in the Paris area should have to query a server in england whereas all clients are in Paris : it is a waste of energy and of performance.
The purpose of this initiative is to decentralize the cloud and make advantage of the existing infrastructure. Once that part of the project will be done, we can imagine completely decentralizing data centers and processing units. Putting them in homes for example so that they both serve as heat generator and processing units, linked dynamically to this cloud that auto regulates itself.
This description is of course a bit raw, if you are interested, you can find more detailed info on the initiative website. The link is right below.