Cloud computing is one of the hot sectors of the information technology space. Without a doubt it is emerging as a trend which has the potential to change the way corporations operate. Already consumers are becoming comfortable with clouds as they upload their photos, videos, email, blogs, documents and spreadsheets to a variety of services which live somewhere... everywhere. Just as consumers have pushed companies they work for into accelerating deployment of VoIP and smartphones, expect cloud computing to become popular in part because we are all comfortable using the technology in our personal lives.
Recently at Interop 2009 in Las Vegas I spent some time with Jason Liu the CEO of Univa, a company which is at the heart of the cloud computing market. A conversation with Jason - and I had two, one where I was taking notes and yet another which was on video camera and will be posted soon, is like drinking from a garden hose of valuable cloud-based information. This is Liu's fifth venture backed company (he came onboard 2 years ago) and being able to articulate a vision is obviously one of the reasons investors seem to be drawn to him.
Liu started the conversation with his definition of cloud computing - there are five categories...
1) Boundless applications
2) A pooled set of shared resources
3) A service based approach
4) A virtualized environment
5) Metering (Liu says this is an addition from analyst firm Gartner Group and billing could be tied to this attribute)
He went on to explain that future clouds will be a mesh of private/public information and the primary driver for keeping private clouds will likely be security concerns.
His company is involved in providing intelligent dispatch, a term which describes cloud computing middleware which handles application prioritization. The founders of Univa were the founders of Grid and as such they have been at this game for a decade. And the experience counts as there are tremendous levels of complexity in dealing with masses of servers, software and users while trying to optimize application delivery and performance based on preset rules.
Univa adds intelligence to clouds and Liu feels carriers need a solution like their Reliance product so they can more rapidly roll out cloud-based offerings which offer the ability to more easily provide service-based pricing. Liu further explained Reliance 3.0 has decoupled the "brain" from the provisioning meaning you can now use their solutions on virtually any infrastructure.
Cloud computing has tremendous potential and is also one of the more complex solutions in the enterprise and carrier technology space. If there is one constant that came out of my conversation with Jason Liu it is that that as cloud computing becomes even more complex, laden with applications and users, you will eventually have to add intelligence. It would seem Univa is well-positioned as the world comes to it.