Sunday, October 03, 2010

Clouds in Boxes - Super Size It - Want Storage and Servers With That?

I was absolutely mesmerized by Larry Ellison's keynote at Oracle Open World - the winning of the America's Cup was one of the best short films I have seen. And just as I thought this could be fun, the keynote started with Larry defining Cloud Computing. I was at the edge of my seat now, especially given my history of having worked at Redwood Shores.

Here is some background. As Paul Greenberg points out, there was a keynote 2 years ago where we got a hint of things to come. Paul quotes Larry Ellison from his earlier post:
The interesting thing about cloud computing is that we’ve redefined cloud computing to include everything that we already do. I can’t think of anything that isn’t cloud computing with all of these announcements. The computer industry is the only industry that is more fashion-driven than woman’s fashion. Maybe I’m an idiot, but I have no idea what anyone is talking about. What is it? It’s complete gibberish. It’s insane. When is this idiocy going to stop?
“We’ll make cloud computing announcements. I’m not going to fight this thing. But I don’t understand what we would do differently in the light of cloud.’”
So, here we were - the time to define cloud computing by a remarkable leader who truly has built one of the most fascinating companies with an M&A machine that is hard to take lightly. The Mark Hurd hiring moment was pure art (of war) - essentially forcing HP's hand and now HP has responded by hiring Leo formerly from SAP (and Ray Lane) - this will likely get more interesting before it ends.

Next, Larry spent what seemed like infinity to me - explaining Amazon Web Services EC2 (Elastic Compute Cloud) and Salesforce.com. There was lot of clever word play and by calling the box - Exalogic Elastic Compute Cloud (as Paul calls it E2C2) - I think Oracle made a big leap towards accepting the reality - the world wants cloud computing not more hardware. However, there is just one hitch - this "cloud" comes in a box as in hardware, and its elastic only if you are willing to pay $1,075,000 to get started. After that you can use as little of it as you want - not more because that would require purchasing errr... another "cloud".

Let me quote a few fellow writers:

Larry Dignan of ZDNet writes in an article titled - "Oracle's Exalogic box: Cloudwashing at its best?"
NIST has put a lot of time in defining cloud computing. One core tenet of cloud computing “rapid elasticity,” where capacity can be provisioned and scaled up and down at will. Think Amazon Web Services.
Does the Exalogic box meet that criteria? Will Oracle take a box back if you don’t need the computing power?
Probably not. Simply put, Oracle’s Exalogic box gives you capacity on demand because you’re still buying more capacity than you need. It’s a nice box, but to the IT buyer Exalogic may not be all that elastic when it hits your budget.
Unless Oracle takes away the Exalogic capacity you spent a few million dollars for and gives you your money back, the true elasticity of the Exalogic box is a bit fuzzy.
And just as the keynote defined Amazon as the gold standard of cloud computing and established a rhyming correlation between the AWS Elastic Compute Cloud and Exalogic Elastic Compute Cloud - Amazon Web Services' CTO weighed in via his (real cloud based) Twitter feed tweeting:


To be fair, the Exalogic box appears to be a very powerful machine with lots of computation power packed into a rack full of servers with impressive connectivity (Infiniband inside and 10gigE outside), lots of RAM and SSD, etc. In its own right, it could be an appealing alternative to customers with million dollar budgets looking for heavyweight on-premise servers. Unless it comes with a URL and says "Login Here" to start - its not a cloud. No matter how big the box is, you are still boxed in.

Just look at all the cloud services you may use in your daily life and how many you would buy a box for:

  • Elastic Gmail Box for $1,075,000 to get started? $75,000? $5,000?
  • Elastic Facebook Box for $1,075,000 to get started? $75,000? $5,000?
  • Elastic Amazon S3 Box for $1,075,000 to get started? $75,000? $5,000?
  • Elastic Dropbox Box for $1,075,000 to get started? $75,000? $5,000?

1 comment:

Urban said...

nice project. you explain in very well