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The Economics of Federal Cloud Computing Analyzed

kdawson posted more than 4 years ago | from the clouds'-illusions-i-recall dept.

Government 85

jg21 writes "With the federal government about to spend $20B on IT infrastructure, this highly analytical article by two Booz Allen Hamilton associates makes it clear that cloud computing has now received full executive backing and offers clear opportunities for agencies to significantly reduce their growing expenditures for data centers and IT hardware. From the article: 'A few agencies are already moving quickly to explore cloud computing solutions and are even redirecting existing funds to begin implementations... Agencies should identify the aspects of their current IT workload that can be transitioned to the cloud in the near term to yield "early wins" to help build momentum and support for the migration to cloud computing.'"

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85 comments

Just typical (5, Funny)

Cryacin (657549) | more than 4 years ago | (#29790335)

These government types always have their heads in the clouds...

Re:Just typical (1, Insightful)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | more than 4 years ago | (#29790367)

Is this funny? Or do people just chime in with whatever enters their head but is actually not funny? Serious question.

Re:Just typical (2, Insightful)

some_guy_88 (1306769) | more than 4 years ago | (#29790403)

You're new here arn't you?

Re:Just typical (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29790437)

In Soviet Russia, chime heads your Beowulf Cluster

Genuine Nigger Advantage (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29790661)

I am black. Does that automatically make me a nigger or do I have to meet cartain criteria?

Re:Genuine Nigger Advantage (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29791497)

Nobody likes a nigger nigger
Nigger’s nigger nigger nigger
What is their history? Their origin is a mystery
What does it take to be a nigger? And what is the real criteria?
Niggers are inferior and niggers are never superior
Niggers a slave mentality and refuse to face reality
Niggers think one dimensionally and killed themselves intentionally
Niggers have low expectations and want instant gratification
Nigger are scared and hopeless. Niggers are quick to lose focus.
Niggers argue over silly shit in matters of no real significance
Niggers make poor decisions and always need permission
Niggers base their lives on fiction. Niggers don’t have x-ray vision
Niggers can’t wait to go to prison so they can get their third conviction
Niggers have several addictions and imaginary affliction
Which causes their own restrictions
Niggers never ever read and beg for everything they need
Niggers are mentally lazy and think being smart sounds crazy

Re:Just typical (2, Interesting)

cjfs (1253208) | more than 4 years ago | (#29790445)

Is this funny? Or do people just chime in with whatever enters their head but is actually not funny? Serious question.

Well you can't just say "first post" anymore, you'd get modded down instantly. So you have to think of something in the .7 seconds before you lost the first post spot. So yeah, probably is the first thing that came to mind.

The other possibility is that it's a setup for a top level reply. Perhaps something along the lines of a These government types always have their heads up their clouds with a FTFY-type note. With that kind of visibility a +5 funny is easy to get.

Now you reply and collect the "holy over-analysis batman" karma :-)

Re:Just typical....oh I misread it (1)

Bob_Who (926234) | more than 4 years ago | (#29790759)

These government types always have their heads in the clouds...

....I thought that was CLOD computing. My Bad.

Re:Just typical....oh I misread it (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29790875)

Here comes the GNU/Ubuntu, here comes the GNU/Ubuntu
Watch him walk this way, watch him walk that way
There goes the GNU/Ubuntu, there goes the GNU/Ubuntu

Re:Just typical (1)

c6gunner (950153) | more than 4 years ago | (#29795185)

I find they mostly have their heads in a much darker place ....

Perfect fit! (4, Funny)

peipas (809350) | more than 4 years ago | (#29790417)

$20B + system built by Microsoft's new 'Danger' arm + White House IT administration = dream government cloud!

All your base are most certainly permanently lost!

Re:Perfect fit! (2, Interesting)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 4 years ago | (#29790439)

All your base are most certainly permanently lost!

If it's the NSA losing the data than it's a feature for the public; illegal domestic spying considered.

Re:Perfect fit! (1)

cjfs (1253208) | more than 4 years ago | (#29790457)

If it's the NSA losing the data than it's a feature for the public; illegal domestic spying considered.

Don't worry, I'm sure they'll have that covered...

However, there are currently no security standards for cloud computing, and until such standards have been developed, and used effectively to measure provider services and enforce accountability, any failures will fall on the agency's in-house IT organization

The joke of Gubbmint technology (3, Interesting)

mcrbids (148650) | more than 4 years ago | (#29790679)

Remember Carnivore? The FBI email filter that sniffed network traffic and kept copies of emails sent to a directed user? It fell afoul of privacy groups and was eventually withdrawn as it was effectively a form of warrantless wiretapping.

I wish I could find the source - but I remember it as C/Net or something like that. Anyway, the problem behind it's withdrawal wasn't that it was ineffective, (it was) nor was it that it picked up emails to people other than the intended recipient. (It didn't) The problem was that the carnivore system itself was insecure.

So the FBI would deploy this thing, essentially packet-sniffing an ISP's network, and then would be hacked by the Chinese or the Ruskies and all the information gathered by the FBI intelligence was then disclosed to the foreign powers. It was (apparently) an open Joke within the spy community.

Why does this somehow come to mind when I think of "Cloud computing" for the gubbmint? Because as bad as it is for the gubbmint getting a system to be secured, doing so with an outside 3rd party takes the problem to a whole new magnitude.

Re:The joke of Gubbmint technology (1)

zero0ne (1309517) | more than 4 years ago | (#29790885)

Not that I think you are wrong with your theory here, but maybe (just maybe) the people in charge of operating, running and deploying their cloud are the best of the best?

The cloud simply allows them to group the best of the best together to benefit the community at large.

Instead of the FBI hiring poor programmers, you now have a central group responsible for implementing security among other things.

Theoretically, it's sound... Implementation is another issue altogether, however.

Re:The joke of Gubbmint technology (2, Insightful)

GrpA (691294) | more than 4 years ago | (#29791061)

Theoretically, the companies that win these contracts will have it in their best interests not to provide the best services, but whatever cheap services they can while maximizing profits.

That's usually what happens in practice too.

GrpA

Re:The joke of Gubbmint technology (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29792493)

And isn't it interesting that this is happening under a Liberal government? Maximizing profits for large, normally, evil, companies while putting the citizen's data and information at risk of privacy exposure?

Re:The joke of Gubbmint technology (1)

foobsr (693224) | more than 4 years ago | (#29791235)

the best of the best

Pff, with selection rules set by politicians and CEOs.

CC.

Economies of Scale (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29790425)

Cloud computing provides lower costs due to attaining economies of scale. The federal government certainly has scale to attain any efficiencies that a cloud operator might use to reduce the cost. It is scary to think the government will hand over data and processing to the cloud instead of providing a federally managed private cloud on a secure private network. This reeks of lobbying and special interests. Follow the money.

Re:Economies of Scale (3, Interesting)

rhsanborn (773855) | more than 4 years ago | (#29792299)

Which is how it should work. The government working on commercial clouds sounds completely unreasonable. There is a place for a large cloud where different agencies can aggregate their resources, rather than each agency having their own IT setup and staff.

Re:Economies of Scale (3, Funny)

slim (1652) | more than 4 years ago | (#29792407)

I wasn't going to watch 24 again, but it might be worth watching another series to see whether they get a cloud reference in.

"Open me a socket into the FBI cloud NOW!"

Re:Economies of Scale (1)

RicktheBrick (588466) | more than 4 years ago | (#29793811)

I should be able to log on to the irs.gov site in February and type in my social security number and the site should tell me how much money I made last year and than ask me several question and than tell me how much I owe or how much return I can expect. It should take 10 minutes at the most. I file the same way every year so it should not be much of a problem for the irs to figure out. I would rather pay the government $60 extra a year so it could go to a better cause than some CEO's large compensation.

Re:Economies of Scale (1)

benjamindees (441808) | more than 4 years ago | (#29795763)

I would rather pay the government extra so it could go to a better cause

And, would that be new SUVs for the hood rats, granite countertops on some subprime borrower's million-dollar home, or killing more brown people?

Re:Economies of Scale (3, Insightful)

slim (1652) | more than 4 years ago | (#29792321)

It is scary to think the government will hand over data and processing to the cloud instead of providing a federally managed private cloud on a secure private network. This reeks of lobbying and special interests.

The only thing it reeks of, is what the US and UK governments have favoured for the last 20 years or more -- discourage public projects, encourage private sector projects. Don't let the government build a hospital when you can enter into a "Public Private Partnership" instead.

There's plenty of precedence for trusting private companies with government data.

I do agree that a state-owned private cloud would make the most sense - but alas that's not how the US and UK governments have tended to go for a long time.

Re:Economies of Scale (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29803835)

The CIA is already building a private cloud http://news.idg.no/cw/art.cfm?id=6C6B02C5-1A64-6A71-CE5DCB0C9273AE0D

Re:Economies of Scale (1)

EvilTwinSkippy (112490) | more than 4 years ago | (#29795599)

What kind of "economy of scale" is there to throwing out working systems and replacing them?

Oh right... this is management types we are talking about...

Not so sure (3, Funny)

Amanitin (1603983) | more than 4 years ago | (#29790499)

Moving onto clouds always gives me the sense of losing control.
With government agencies I am pretty sure my tax payment records will be the first they loose, my traffic offense records the last.

Serious Question(s) (1)

The Wild Norseman (1404891) | more than 4 years ago | (#29790519)

The concept of cloud computing is utilizing resources that are not located within one's general geographical area or the resources, at minimum, aren't owned by you, is that correct? If this is the case, how then would companies and people in general be persuaded to buy the hardware to run all of these resources? Or maybe what I'm asking is who is willing to pay for all of the cloud support? Does Microsoft say, for example, that the new Office 2012 is entirely cloud-based; no need for apps on your local machine, but they own the server farms to host all of the thousands of Office cloud apps that people are running? Maybe I'm confused.

Re:Serious Question(s) (2, Informative)

slim (1652) | more than 4 years ago | (#29792563)

In the case of software-as-a-service (just one example of cloud computing), it's pretty much as you describe.

Does Microsoft say, for example, that the new Office 2012 is entirely cloud-based; no need for apps on your local machine, but they own the server farms to host all of the thousands of Office cloud apps that people are running?

Just substitute Google for Microsoft, and Google Apps for Office 2012, and you've got an exact description of how Google Apps works.

Oh no... (0, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29790553)

This will be a feeding trough boondoggle for the big name, connected IT consulting companies. it will take forever, involve massive, cost overruns, and never work right.

Home were the money roams. (1)

Ostracus (1354233) | more than 4 years ago | (#29790563)

So when will the IRS move my data into the "cloud"?

Who cares about security? (4, Insightful)

Whuffo (1043790) | more than 4 years ago | (#29790587)

Something that isn't often mentioned when discussing cloud computing is a general problem with who has control over your data, where it resides, and what prevents others from accessing it. When you move to the cloud you need to be able to trust the service provider completely. This might not be a problem for unimportant things, but the government has privacy and secrecy obligations that it would not be able to fulfill by handing it sll over to a third party.

Re:Who cares about security? (3, Informative)

pdbaby (609052) | more than 4 years ago | (#29791239)

I work on "cloud computing things" and I can tell you that this is, most certainly, discussed at great length... especially with government-level stuff: these are the sorts of issues that are most important.

Private clouds provide a lot of the benefits of centrally managed infrastructure without the drawbacks of having a single, far-away department managing stuff at the operating system level - it can be a major win for large organisations like governments.

Re:Who cares about security? (2, Funny)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 4 years ago | (#29792959)

And I'm sure you deal with those issues by assuring them that you've got top men working on it. Top. Men.

Re:Who cares about security? (3, Insightful)

teknopurge (199509) | more than 4 years ago | (#29793687)

Private clouds? With a private cloud you're two steps away from a Mainframe, where with a mainframe you already have all the isolation, security and time sharing issues solved. With a private cloud, you still have years of break/fix patching to get things working similar to existing technology architectures.(security, delegation, etc.) Where is the value ad? (Serious, no troll)

Re:Who cares about security? (1)

Danathar (267989) | more than 4 years ago | (#29792593)

Yes, because over the last 40 years or so NEVER has the government outsourced data center operations to 3rd party facilities run by.....like EDS, IBM, Perot Systems, Booze-Allen, SAIC...

And

Because currently contractors are completly trustworthy inside governent data centers and would never and could never pull a hard drive and walk out the door..

-----
And if you did not get the above joke, just realize that "cloud" vendors are no different than any other contractor that has run fed data centers and servers in some offsite location and will have to abide by the same rules and regulations. Your Data is as safe as it's always been...

Move along please

Re:Who cares about security? (1)

dragonturtle69 (1002892) | more than 4 years ago | (#29792977)

Forget about the third party. I have only time enough for a quick Google, so I apologize for the somewhat biased link, but this there are complications for cloud stuff and keeping the branches of government separate.

Arpaio and state Supreme Court [prisonplanet.com]

Re:Who cares about security? (1)

mgblst (80109) | more than 4 years ago | (#29801103)

You are so ignorant, it is beyond belief. You clearly have never actually looked into cloud computing seriously.

This is a huge issue. There are times when data needs to be restricted from running in certain countries due to privacy rules (UK Medical records must remain in the UK, so can't be sent anywhere else).

There are huge issues about encryption, anonymising data, and ensuring that data is kept safe.

A great deal of though has gone into this issue, so fuck you.

Not Suprising (3, Interesting)

benjamindees (441808) | more than 4 years ago | (#29790599)

Booz Allen Hamilton is the consulting wing of the military-industrial-complex. Look at their members: Bushes, CIA/NSA directors, etc. This is the wing of the Republican party whose only problem with the size and scope of government is that it still has some semblance of democratic accountability, rather than having been farmed out to some shadow corporate control. The agenda is to centralize, nationalize, and privatize key US assets wherever possible. Information technology is becoming a crucial means of political control in the digital age. And clouds represent the perfect way to outsource and obfuscate that control, outside the reach of pesky freedom of information laws, of course losing any disparaging information in the process.

As an anecdote: Google opened a new datacenter near here recently. It has twice as many armed guards as IT staff. I would hate to be the one to have to serve a warrant on that place. Do you think that might be a convenient place to store your medical records, government or corporate e-mails, mortgage records for well-connected politicians, illegal spying programs, etc? What happens when the information you're looking for can't be tied to any one physical machine, or geographic location even?

Re:Not Suprising (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29790689)

which is it? nationalize or privatize?

Re:Not Suprising (1)

Trepidity (597) | more than 4 years ago | (#29790919)

Both--- aggregate them under government control, then farm them out to well-connected contractors who can operate them shielded from market pressures.

Re:Not Suprising (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29796625)

(Posting anonymously because I don't feel like running this by the Firm's legal team)

I work for Booz Allen. You seem to have an ax to grind. While we have several people with the last name "Bush" in the firm, none of them are higher level than mid-management. You might be referring to the Carlyle Group and their ties to Bush/Cheney, which recently took a stake in Booz Allen and now has three members on our board of directors [http://www.boozallen.com/about/leadership]. Yes, we have a former director of the NSA in our senior leadership: [http://www.boozallen.com/about/40026730/McConnell]. Coincidentally (lol) we do a lot of business with that agency. I think it's a stretch to go from that to saying there is some sort of hidden agenda. The Washington Post wrote a [hyperbolic, IMO] piece calling Booz Allen "The Shadow Intelligence Community"- I recommend everyone interested read that. I can't believe that you have any experience with Federal contracting if you believe that we do anything other than what your Government contractually obligates us to do.

Also, what does "centralize, nationalize, and privatize key US assets" mean anyway? Isn't nationalization the opposite of privatization? I know there's a lot of illuminati-types on /., but I can't see how the parent got modded up. Note I'm completely ignoring your assessment of the technology aspect because it's so horribly flawed and I have real work to do.

Security Considerations (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29790609)

I'm curious on how this will affect so-called "cyber attacks". Several governments have expressed the need to finance high-tech defenses against such attacks. By moving all their data to the cloud, would that not become a prime target? Clouds are not flawless, magical entities that will protect you from data loss and/or security breaches. In practice, they are just a bunch of (virtual) servers. With private servers you can physically disconnect them from outside access. But clouds are by definition hooked onto the internet, which allows anyone to access them.

privacy issues (1)

technodude90 (781616) | more than 4 years ago | (#29790731)

I think its best if each agency had its own servers that employees could access remotely. Data shouldn't be copied onto laptops which can then be lost. We won't have to worry about losing the data. The 3rd parties will probably sell it and be able to store it with other internal data like our phone records. I don't want the private sector having access to this any more than a person with a stolen laptop with social security numbers on it.

Ask the experts: what is cloud computing? (3, Funny)

Web Goddess (133348) | more than 4 years ago | (#29790817)

What is cloud computing? Knowledgeable people interviewed at Web 2.0 Expo last year describe in hilarious terms their understanding of the phrase, making only one thing clear: clouds are nebulous.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6PNuQHUiV3Q [youtube.com]

--Wendy

Re:Ask the experts: what is cloud computing? (2, Informative)

gringer (252588) | more than 4 years ago | (#29791001)

RMS has recently also described cloud computing as nebulous (I think it's the second question, about 40s in):
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Richard_Stallman_Talk_2009-10-09_part5.ogv [wikimedia.org]

Re:Ask the experts: what is cloud computing? (1)

terbo (307578) | more than 4 years ago | (#29791623)

"That term is so vague, or shall we say nebulous, that it can't be used for meaningful statements."
"Don't pay attention to who has your data, or who controls all of the computing you do, just ignore it."

Thanks a lot for the video and link/post. I wonder why googling 'a free digital society'
does not find it. Not even the FSF page has much info on the talk.

Re:Ask the experts: what is cloud computing? (1)

gringer (252588) | more than 4 years ago | (#29791869)

Thanks a lot for the video and link/post. I wonder why googling 'a free digital society'
does not find it. Not even the FSF page has much info on the talk.

YW. Both the video and the talk are new; the video was uploaded 10 days ago, and I think this talk is one of his newer ones (1-2 years old, from what I recall). Thanks to your mention in /., it'll probably show up soon enough.

Re:Ask the experts: what is cloud computing? (1)

terbo (307578) | more than 4 years ago | (#29791803)

Re:Ask the experts: what is cloud computing? (1)

gringer (252588) | more than 4 years ago | (#29791933)

Also further explained at about 10:20 in [part2]

He was talking about Software as a Service (SAAS) there, which is a more specific term.

His comments regarding "cloud computing" remind me of what he says about "intellectual property", so I wonder if he would be similarly frustrated with both terms (i.e. cloud computing is to SAAS as intellectual property is to patent law).

Re:Ask the experts: what is cloud computing? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29791189)

Cloud Computing = Time-sharing. I might have heard that written on /. originally...

Re:Ask the experts: what is cloud computing? (1)

slim (1652) | more than 4 years ago | (#29792233)

A couple of things that cloud computing has, that time-sharing doesn't capture:

  - fault tolerance by virtue of distributed-ness
  - performance by virtue of distributed-ness

For applications well suited to cloud computing (e.g. S3) this is a big win. If a node goes down, it's no big deal. If your user gets (for instance) an image from S3, they're likely to be getting it from a node that's geographically close to them.

Re:Ask the experts: what is cloud computing? (1)

poofmeisterp (650750) | more than 4 years ago | (#29793741)

I think (correct me if I'm wrong) that people are in agreement with what you just said.... but there are concerns.

What I see as a concern is the "typical move," if you will, by the government to save money by offloading the responsibility to contracted companies. They do it with everything they can to save money.

The flip-side of that situation is that if the government doesn't offload the data to others, that the government will have enormous amounts of data on people; enormous amounts that can be combined, distributed, "conveniently deleted," etc etc etc etc etc... Privacy blah blah, yadda yadda.

My view is simple. People who fear will fear. People who don't won't. The same outcome will occur regardless of peoples' viewpoints, as long as the higher-ups make/save/etc money by agreeing to the plan. Look at history. It repeats itself. It repeats itself. It repeats itself. It repeats itself. It repeats itself. It repeats itself. It repeats itself. Ad nauseum.

fat app servers and thin clients (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29790931)

There needs to be real answers to real questions. How is cloud computing different from the fat servers and thin clients talked about in the old days? Will google allow self-provisioning of their apps to private clouds? Other company's and their web apps? Most cloud enthusiasts insist data is safe and secure on the internet, but there are many military / government orgs that must use detached, self provisioned, private clouds. Probably most major corporations will demand self-provisioned applications and data too. What no one appears to want any more is the data loss associated with fat client PCs and local hard drive applications/data. I don't think metered CPU/mem/apps/data on some supposed "secure internet" is going to work for everyone. I think people need to start thinking more about fat app/data services and thin clients on isolated intranets, perhaps using crypto VPNs to connect them, and less about global metered-use clouds on the internet.

how gullible do you think we really are? (1)

secondhand_Buddah (906643) | more than 4 years ago | (#29790967)

The little red light on my scam-o-meter is blinking furiously.

Easier to data mine I expect (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29791081)

I would need some pretty serious encryption and data retention policies before I put anything in the cloud. Why? when all I have is my resume and stuff I could care less about if people saw it? I want to dictate who sees my stuff and when. I hate it when people go behind my back, especially when I would provide it free anyway and with the track record of even some of the biggest companies I don't trust them at all. Besides privacy it is the principle.

Security (2, Interesting)

plopez (54068) | more than 4 years ago | (#29791601)

Ummm... yeah.

So gov't worker A in an agency which name the worker cannot disclose has confidential files. He also has access to a cloud application for publishing, sharing purposes.

So, how do we safe guard uploading the sensitive document, accidentally of course, to a cloud application which is not locked down or has poor security?

This has already happened with regular application, but if the information is distributed across many servers possibly many organizations how do you plug the leak?

Previously there was only a single point of failure, now there is an unknown number of locations for the information leak.

You may as well post the document link on slashdot.

Cloud computing offers nothing. (5, Interesting)

v(*_*)vvvv (233078) | more than 4 years ago | (#29791643)

Cloud computing offers nothing. And by nothing I mean nothing new. Nor does it fix anything. The internet already works.

There, I said it.

For 99% of us, a web server does everything we need it to. Redundancy and fault tolerance are already very easy to buy in other forms that are perfectly reliable and non-invasive (RAID, adding servers for specific services, buying better hardware etc). These problems were solved long ago.

Yes, for the rare corporation that requires huge server clusters, cloudifying their infrastructure is the right direction to go. But that and buying a cloud are two completely different stories. If your server count is already that high, then you most likely already have the budget and the people to create your own cloud optimized for your specific needs, that works only for you.

Just like businesses love dedicated servers even when a shared server would do fine, businesses also love dedicated clouds.

Cloud providers need to think again about what and to whom they are selling. I see a market for super cheap hosting for the masses by selling competitive hosting packages by leveraging the cost efficiency and performance benefits of a cloud. I also see a market for dedicated custom cloud solutions for the high end market. However, both of these markets are extremely saturated, and if you are not selling anything new, you are primarily competing by price alone. Any such market is a lot of hard work for not so much money.

So good luck! PS. I am not buying.

Re:Cloud computing offers nothing. (2, Interesting)

davide marney (231845) | more than 4 years ago | (#29792079)

I didn't find this to be true for me. When I moved my humble little web application from a dedicated host to a cloud platform (Amazon), I saved myself 50%. A dedicated server or hard drive is rented in bulk, so you wind up paying for a lot of unused capacity while you wait for your needs to catch up to your investment. Amazon does charge a preimium price, but there's zero fat. YMMV, but the upshot for me was that Amazon was in fact cheaper. The fact that I also get all the virtualization-on-demand toys made this a slam dunk.

Re:Cloud computing offers nothing. (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 4 years ago | (#29792473)

Is that the one - http://www.netmedia.org/ [netmedia.org] - in your profile?

Forbidden
You don't have permission to access / on this server.

Very little. Very humble. It has a certain minimalist charm, I'll give you that.

Re:Cloud computing offers nothing. (1)

davide marney (231845) | more than 4 years ago | (#29806351)

No, of course not. LOL.

Re:Cloud computing offers nothing. (1)

v(*_*)vvvv (233078) | more than 4 years ago | (#29800607)

I am not sure we are in much disagreement here. I would say your case would fall under:

...a market for super cheap hosting for the masses by selling competitive hosting packages by leveraging the cost efficiency and performance benefits of a cloud.

Such cases definitely exist, and it is great for those who feel they have achieved maximum value for their money. Still, I suspect there aren't enough of you. Zero market disruption.

Re:Cloud computing offers nothing. (3, Insightful)

slim (1652) | more than 4 years ago | (#29792265)

Cloud computing offers nothing. And by nothing I mean nothing new.

Of course not. Amazon and Google have been using it for over a decade with great success.

It's nice, though, that the rest of us can now join in cheaply and easily.

Re:Cloud computing offers nothing. (2, Interesting)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 4 years ago | (#29792929)

Super! Where do I sign up with the 3rd parties that have been providing cloud services to Amazon and Google for over a decade?

Perhaps we need to define our terms first.

Re:Cloud computing offers nothing. (1)

slim (1652) | more than 4 years ago | (#29793127)

I appreciate that's something to be considered - but people buy services from third parties all the time.

I strongly suspect that, at least more recently, Google and Amazon would be structured internally such that different units are responsible for providing the cloud platform, and for providing applications.

I guess it would be fairly straightforward for Amazon to split itself into a bookshop company and a cloud company, with one being a customer of the other.

Re:Cloud computing offers nothing. (1)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 4 years ago | (#29793611)

Providing cloud services != "using it" though. I doubt that Amazon and Google have been "using" cloud services - in the sense of resources that are shared with external customers - for "over a decade". Try just over 3 years [typepad.com] .

See, what I'm getting at is the vaguery surrounding what "cloud computing" actually is. Who's providing it, who's using it, and who's just scamming money from jumping on the bandwagon and consulting their way to an early retirement by layering a new lexicon on top of Software As A Service.

Re:Cloud computing offers nothing. (1)

slim (1652) | more than 4 years ago | (#29793985)

cloud services - in the sense of resources that are shared with external customers

As you stated a couple of levels up, we haven't agreed terms.

what I'm getting at is the vaguery surrounding what "cloud computing" actually is

I see what you mean.

To me, cloud computing means massively parallel deployments, ideally running applications optimised for that environment. So Google Search is a cloud application, and always has been. Amazon's catalogue is a cloud application, since whatever time they realised that traditional web hosting couldn't scale to their needs.

And because they were smart, they built themselves cloud platforms that were generally useful; used them themselves for various purposes; then finally made them available to external developers.

Whether you build your own cloud, or use someone else's, is not part of my definition.

But, more people can benefit from huge clouds than have the resources to build one. For example, if I host my images on S3, a client anywhere in the world is likely to get it from a cache near them - my chickenfeed web site gets all the capacity benefits of Amazon's huge infrastructure.

Re:Cloud computing offers nothing. (1)

v(*_*)vvvv (233078) | more than 4 years ago | (#29800811)

Amazon and Google have been using it for over a decade with great success.

These are straight arrow examples of the dedicated clouds I was referring to. Make no mistake, amazon and google are not offering dedicated cloud solutions last I checked. They are offering to share their clouds, and neither of these companies would even contemplate paying someone else for a shared cloud service to sustain their entire business.

Facebook, mySpace, and I suspect even Twitter (more recently after all their mishaps) have all moved on to virtualizing their server farms to maximize redundancy and cost efficiency. That is the natural evolution of any such mammoth web service - to turn rain drops into mist, and eliminate bottlenecks. To say all that these companies or any other company would need to do in the future is pay for some shared spot in a monolithic cloud is beyond just a leap. It is nonsensical, and will not happen.

After some more thought and some more beers, I had an Oprah ah-ha moment:

Cloud providers need to think again about what and to whom they are selling.

They have found someone to sell to: The US government. Who else would pay disproportionate amounts of money for something that sounds new, but actually doesn't do anything new?

The government is paid to spend money. If they had to spend the money they earned by actually doing something, they would not be so reckless. In fact they would be bankrupt. And China is the only reason they are not.

What is worse, the government is usually the last on any bandwagon.

If they bought it, I say cloud season is officially over folks.

Re:Cloud computing offers nothing. (1)

slim (1652) | more than 4 years ago | (#29805429)

neither of these companies would even contemplate paying someone else for a shared cloud service to sustain their entire business.

I think, in a hypothetical world where they didn't already have their own huge clouds for historical reasons, they might. Not for their *entire* business, but for the parts that are amenable to it.

Google, less likely. But for Amazon it seems realistic to me.

Hypothetically, imagine there were no online bookseller in 2009, but someone was selling cloud storage along the lines of S3. Someone like Jeff Bezos has the bright idea of selling books online. Part of that is to maintain a huge database of catalogue info, reviews, images, which it's expected a large number of people will be passively browsing for most of the time.

In these circumstances, he'd be a fool to build his own cloud for this. Someone else has already done the hard work.

Now, with today's technology, you probably wouldn't use a 3rd party cloud for the whole of the business. You'd put the catalogue, that takes most of the traffic volume, there, and you'd put the checkout on your own servers, where you had more control over security. You'd have your own systems managing inventory and order fulfillment (which is where Amazon really excel, in my opinion).

Re:Cloud computing offers nothing. (1)

slim (1652) | more than 4 years ago | (#29805467)

I should add...

Again hypothetically, if some government agency were to decide Amazon was too big and had to be broken up, I would imagine they'd be very keen to do it by splitting into Amazon Retail and Amazon Cloud Services, with Retail buying storage, hosting etc. from Cloud Services.

What you'd probably then see -- since there'd be smart people in Retail -- would be Retail's developers weakening the coupling between their code and Cloud Services' interfaces, so they they could dynamically move between service providers based on price (and other factors).

Re:Cloud computing offers nothing. (1)

Danathar (267989) | more than 4 years ago | (#29792615)

The point is, if your buisness is not IT then why are your spending large sums of money doing it yourself?

In the early part of the 20th century many businesses ran their own Electric power stations. Then they got rid of them and got power from the grid. Why? Because for 99% of them Electricity is not their core buisness.

For companies outside of the IT industry IT is not THEIR buisness either.

Re:Cloud computing offers nothing. (1)

benjamindees (441808) | more than 4 years ago | (#29796007)

It could easily be cheaper and more efficient to in-house something that is not your "business". Go ahead and take electricity for example. The cheapest way for many businesses to get electricity is not to purchase it from the electric company. The most efficient office buildings and universities co-generate using natural gas engines that provide heating, cooling, and electricity all cheaper and more efficiently than the electric company does. Larger industries do the same thing, only in large industrial parks sited next to coal-fired power plants. The waste heat is used to run their processes, and the electricity is much cheaper than getting it "from the grid".

Re:Cloud computing offers nothing. (1)

dekemoose (699264) | more than 4 years ago | (#29798769)

Plenty of companies do things that aren't part of their core business, HR, Finance, Facilities Management, etc. All of these are available to be outsourced to other parties and many companies have outsourced all or parts of these to other entities with varying degrees of success. However, each of these can also be critical to your business and if you do them particularly well can provide you with an advantage over others in your industry. Electricity is a commodity and there is essentially no value to be found for your average company in generating electricity. If you treat all of your supporting functions as commodities then it probably is best to outsource them as someone else can do it just as poorly as you for less money.

Re:Cloud computing offers nothing. (1)

slim (1652) | more than 4 years ago | (#29805413)

Electricity is a commodity and there is essentially no value to be found for your average company in generating electricity. If you treat all of your supporting functions as commodities then it probably is best to outsource them as someone else can do it just as poorly as you for less money.

Exactly, and the core concept of cloud computing is that [insert IT function] becomes a commodity. For example, storage is a commodity. Web hosting is a commodity.

A few years ago, the big companies pushed essentially the same concept, but their buzzword was "grid computing".

What's currently breaking this model is that interfaces aren't consistent. One can't switch from Amazon S3 to some other storage service as easily as one switches electricity suppliers. (Although there are compatibility layers out there).

Re:Cloud computing offers nothing. (1)

anomalous cohort (704239) | more than 4 years ago | (#29795937)

From a technology perspective, you are correct. The only justification for cloud computing is economic and that makes sense only if your web and db resource usage fluctuates wildly and unpredictably [toolbox.com] .

Re:Cloud computing offers nothing. (1)

mbone (558574) | more than 4 years ago | (#29801719)

"The only justification for cloud computing is economic and that makes sense only if your web and db resource usage fluctuates wildly and unpredictably."

I have to wonder about one aspect of this - how the cloud will behave when everyone's resource usage spikes at the same time ? I remember how, during 9/11, the CDN's got through it OK, but many of the news sites with CDN support didn't do so well, as network congestion blocked updates from getting to the CDNs. (A CDN like Akamai, of course, was doing cloud computing way before cloud computing was cool.) The pieces worked OK, in other words, but the system as a whole didn't.

Of course, government web sites are especially prone to correlated spikes in usage, and are also ones we are likely to especially want not to fail under load.

Server Utilization (4, Interesting)

mbone (558574) | more than 4 years ago | (#29792673)

Having read through this article server utilization is the most important factor driving better economics for the cloud :

"Our analysis assumes an average utilization rate of 12 percent of available CPU capacity in the SQ environment and 60 percent in the virtualized cloud scenarios."

(SQ means status quo, i.e., non-cloud.) This factor of 5 improvement in average utilization drives the overall cost savings and they are assuming a cloud overhead of about 45%. (I.e., if you look that their numbers, they assume that cloud CPU cycles cost 45% more than local cycles, but the efficiency is 5 times higher, for a overall cost reduction of a factor of 3.4 in the "public" cloud case, which has the largest savings.)

A factor of 5 in server utilization is huge; the question is, is it realistic ? Note that 60% usage corresponds to 100% usage for 14 hours per day, 7 days a week, or 20 hours of full usage for 5 days per week, and so would be quite high for a government web site. If government web servers dominate the cloud computing, the savings are likely not to be as large as this study supposes, because no amount of aggregation of government web site servers will get you much traffic in the middle of the night.

If you think about it, to be economically effective cloud computing (in the big picture) has to be about saving money by increasing average server utilization (averaged over all users). Cloud servers are not free, and require resources to service and maintain, and clouds have overhead. If some service is barely loading a single server, sure, I can see it being cheaper in the cloud. If servers are maxxed out almost all of the time, I bet that the cloud won't save much money. If the aggregate use is highly time variable, the cloud will not save as much money as a simple calculation would indicate, as the cloud will have servers sitting idle during off hours. For this particular article, its hard to say more as they don't reveal their actual data.

Re:Server Utilization (1)

benjamindees (441808) | more than 4 years ago | (#29796059)

If you think about it, to be economically effective cloud computing (in the big picture) has to be about saving money by increasing average server utilization (averaged over all users).

In a perfect world, perhaps. In this one, all they have to do is offer a new ability to monopolize data processing, and the market will respond. Failing that, they can simply sell their services to government, which has already monopolized money-printing and has no problem using force to extract resources from others to pay it's contractors.

Re:Server Utilization (1)

slim (1652) | more than 4 years ago | (#29805515)

A factor of 5 in [CPU] utilization is huge; the question is, is it realistic ? [...] no amount of aggregation of government web site servers will get you much traffic in the middle of the night.

With the right virtualisation tools and parallel algorithms, you're not limited to serving web pages or doing stuff that requires people to be awake. Batch processing needn't be dead.

Those CPUs could be indexing, running academic simulations, processing large datasets (images, videos, SETI, folding@home etc.). In fact the only reason not to have the CPUs at 100% all the time, is energy efficiency.

Having all those processors in a cloud makes them much more accessible for such purposes.

I bet Google's processors aren't idle for much of the time.

FFrrrrrrrrp! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29792721)

Here's a brown cloud. Compute that, motherfuckers!

Tape Your Data To The Window, Facing the Street (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29796215)

And leave your backup disks in the alley at night. And outsource your IT to people you never meet.

That's pretty much what I think about "cloud computing".

Saving money is not cost-effective (1)

minstrelmike (1602771) | more than 4 years ago | (#29798115)

I work for the government and there are two issues there. One is that we already have 3 initiatives in my 110,000 employee Department to consolidate into data centers. Unfortunately, these directives come from three different levels and mandate consolidation at 3 different centers (to be built).

That is the second issue. Saving money is not cost-effective in the Federal Government. Despite what they teach in civics class about the separation of powers, Congress approves each Department's budget along with line items for particular Agencies and Programs. They have their fingers dug deep into the process and if you can build a data center named for a congresscritter, then you will get funding for it whether it is ever used or not. In addition, you will get funding for the job you're actually supposed to perform so it is cost-effective for the Agency to pander to the politician.

OTOH, if you save money, it is merely removed from next year's budget since you obviously didn't need it.

Re:Saving money is not cost-effective (1)

mbone (558574) | more than 4 years ago | (#29801453)

Yes, saving money only makes sense when the funds saved can be used in other parts of your budget, and there are big parts of the budget where you can't do that. (Travel and computers, for example, were always separate, and not mixable, pots of money.) I have worked at private companies, by the way, with exactly the same mentality where any money saved was immediately taken from you, which is even less effective at fostering cost-efficiency.

When I worked for the US DOD every computer consolidation program was actually a bureaucratic power grab that had little to nothing to do with efficiency, and so would wind up costing us more. Every one.

Hot stock tip (1)

shentino (1139071) | more than 4 years ago | (#29805765)

Buy shares in Cirrus Logic.

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