David Chappel on the clouds and future development

    At the DevDay * Kyiv 2014 conference, I managed to talk with the author of the keynote, David Chappel. David is a well-known speaker, consultant and author of books, many of which are used for training at MIT and ETH. In his work, he seeks to help people in IT understand, use and make decisions about new technologies.


    David is a specialist in cloud technologies in the corporate sector, and therefore the answers are interesting as a look from the corporate world on modern technologies and their development:
    • Which company will now be able to enter the public cloud market?
    • Will computers be part of the Internet of things?
    • How are floating releases related to marketing?

    Cloud computing

    Today, when we hear cloud computing, we usually think of large public clouds, such as Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, or Google Cloud Computing. On the other hand, there is a private cloud market: OpenStack and Microsoft System Center. Will we store all data in public clouds, or will everyone have their own private cloud?

    Let's start this extensive topic by defining what a private cloud is. Many IT executives began calling their data centers private clouds because the private cloud sounds cool. But just starting to call your date center cloud is not exactly fair ( cheating ). I would suggest calling IaaS private cloud in your data center ( Infrastructure-as-a-Service, infrastructure as a service) or in other words virtual machines on request in your data center.

    IaaS makes it easy to deploy identical virtual machines. You have a set of images that you can choose from, and IaaS is responsible for quickly creating virtual machines. In organizations that create many of the same virtual machines, IaaS is really valuable. But what are these organizations? These are large companies. Small and medium-sized organizations do not deploy virtual machines so often, and even when they do, they create different virtual machines. And therefore, I doubt the value of private IaaS in most companies. Large companies can really benefit from a private cloud, but I'm not sure about the value of a private cloud, as I define it in medium and small companies.

    Secondly, even for large companies where IaaS in their own data center makes sense, a private cloud cannot completely replace a public one. I repeat, a private cloud simplifies the allocation of virtual machines in your data center. Great, but it has nothing to do with public clouds. You use public clouds because you:
    • You want to pay only what you use (hourly payment of virtual machines per hour);
    • you need huge scalability;
    • You want to move your IT infrastructure outside your company.

    Private and public clouds solve different problems. And, if you have a private cloud, this does not mean that you can do without public clouds. Private clouds make your data center more efficient, public clouds give you access to scalability, low cost and pay per use. These clouds are not interchangeable.

    As I understand it, private clouds will remain only in large companies. Will these companies be able to provide public cloud services - turn their private into public

    For virtually any company, it’s now impossible to enter the public cloud computing business. The reason for this is the size of the main players - Amazon, Google, Microsoft, and the scale with which they work. You may have heard that this year IBM announced that they are investing a billion dollars in their own cloud data centers. But when you think about it, it turns out that they will distribute this amount to approximately 25 data centers around the world, that is, a billion dollars to 25 data centers. For comparison, Microsoft spends a billion dollars only on the construction of one data center. In a cloud environment, they chuckle at IBM, their announcement sounded good, but, in the real-world clouds of Amazon, Google and Microsoft, they will not be visible.

    Investments in this market are simply huge. Which company will now be able to decide to compete in IaaS right away with Amazon, Google, Microsoft. Rackspace, one of the founders of OpenStack, has long remained the second largest IaaS provider in the world. And so, Rackspace announced that they were leaving the public cloud business because they could not compete with large companies. Therefore, I would be surprised if someone would try to enter the public cloud business, possibly except facebook.

    If we talk about the distribution of files, then peer-to-peer networks are generally superior to other technologies, even cloud ones. About 60% of all file distribution comes from peer-to-peer technology. You can comment on the release of BitTorrent Sync, which is positioned as a peer-to-peer competitor Dropbox, where data is stored not in the cloud, but on clients.

    Unfortunately, I do not follow this market.

    Should Cloud Technologies React Somehow? If peer-to-peer networks turn out to be in personal data storage, then perhaps this technology will be able to compete in other areas, for example, video distribution?

    Money in public cloud platforms does not come from consumers ( consumer), but from corporate users. And corporations will not use peer-to-peer to store data. They will not be glad that their data is stored on different clients. I am very focused on clouds and corporations, so I do not have a strong belief, but I am skeptical that peer-to-peer technologies can become a threat to cloud storage.

    But were the latest sensations in the IT market focused specifically on consumers?

    I do not agree. In terms of publicity - yes, but in terms of profit - this is not true. The corporate IT market is a huge business. Even venture capitalists invest much more in corporate-oriented projects, but media attention is always focused on the consumer sector. If you read the press, then big sensations are always in the consumer sector because most people are consumers and read about what interests them.

    Internet of things

    Is there a fundamental difference between the PC + era, where many devices are connected to the Internet, and the Internet of things ( IoT, Internet of Things ), where all the devices that surround us will be connected to the Internet?

    The era of PC + is computers, laptops and mobile devices (phones and tablets). IoT is wider, but when we say IoT, we do not mean laptops and computers in it. There will be solutions specifically for PC + and specialized for IoT. It will not be two separate markets, they will have much in common, but on the other hand, there will be things that are needed only in a PC or only in IoT.

    Will the developers further specialize? For example, will there be a specialty as a kitchen developer, as there is now a mobile developer, or will it be wider specialists?

    I perceive IoT as an extension of modern embedded solutions. Now there are developers who specialize in developing applications that can work in the limited resources of embedded systems. And for me, IoT is the transfer of all these devices (refrigerators, microwaves and cars) to the Internet. I don’t think this is such a big leap, it’s just more software in more devices. My microwave already has software inside, it’s just now that it will have access to the Internet. A few months ago I bought a new BMW, and the new car is completely IoT. My past BMW also contained a lot of software, but it worked autonomously, but now the software is accessing the Internet.

    You probably know about Tesla machines. I constantly see them, I never hear, because they are quiet, but I always see. Tesla initially behaved like a car with a manual gearbox, if you do not apply the brake on a slope, the car will begin to roll back. With an automatic transmission, the car will stand still. And the car that was rolling back surprised American drivers who were used to the machine. Tesla fixed this behavior by updating the software over the Internet - this is the real IoT.

    In the PC era, you had complete control over the device, and you shared control with the manufacturer (for example, you allowed Windows Update). In the era of PC + and IoT, devices have become more closed, that is, the manufacturer has full control, and, so to speak, you should ask the manufacturer for permission for your actions. Do you think this closed manufacturers helps or does it hinder the development of PC + and IoT?

    I’m not sure that we can talk about complete closeness because the level of different manufacturers is different. Apple is Apple, Android - on the contrary, is very open, Windows Phone - is somewhere in the middle, for example, corporate users can download their applications bypassing the market if they want. But it remains a fact that manufacturers control users more. This helps to make the system more floppy, for example, I would not want any developer to have full access to my new car, its brakes or clutch, it would make me worry. My personal opinion is that I am not opposed to manufacturers having more control. The more a system error can hurt me, the more limited access I would like third-party developers to get. The more devices get into our lives,

    Manufacturers have their own interests, this is a business. Does this create a problem?

    It’s a little scary that manufacturers will have so much control that they can turn off my microwave. And it is true that the level of trust that manufacturers require of us has greatly increased recently. It is possible that new technologies require new legislation.

    Future development

    Mobile phones are updated on the same day or week when updates are published by the developer. In SaaS (s oftware-as-a-service, software as a service ) updates are available instantly. Many developers have switched to small and frequent updates, and floating releases ( Rolling release ). What do you think, large developers will switch to such a development model?

    Microsoft now offers an office subscription package, I pay an annual subscription and receive periodic updates, this is very close to the SaaS model, although updates come to my computer. I would not be surprised if over time, too, Windows will switch to this model.

    On the technical side, you can discuss whether major versions are needed now, but, in terms of marketing, they give the user a sense of consistency. My girlfriend works at a medical school and complains about every change, even a change in one pixel, in the Windows interface. She says that she was happy with everything as it was, she doesn’t need new functions, that don’t change anything, I’m a doctor, let me just use it. And I understand her.

    But if you are Microsoft, you need to develop your products, move on. And if Microsoft will constantly change here and there, every week, every two weeks, every month, the user will be shocked every time. But, if they have major versions, where many changes occur at a time, then the transition for the user is more manageable, they have time to think and prepare for the changes. So versions, as a large set of changes, may no longer depend on technology because we can release changes at least every week, but they are more attractive from customers who can keep changes under control.

    Do users and marketing keep companies from floating releases?

    This is a difficult problem because technology already allows you to make floating releases, and it makes sense because new things are constantly required. But on the other hand, users have a limited ability to accept changes, for them, what is already better is often better, and new technologies that appear too quickly can make their life worse. Just because they have to constantly adapt.

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