By guest author Shaloo Shalini
SM: In the cloud, what entrepreneurship opportunities would you recommend to entrepreneurs looking for problems to solve?
FB: Well, there are entrepreneurship opportunities on the consumer and provider sides of cloud-based services. Clearly, cloud computing is a great gift for entrepreneurs in the sense that they can build and scale companies without having to worry about significant capital investment. In terms of providing services, clearly, security is an area. There is opportunity for companies that can help enterprises to bridge the private and public cloud.
There is also a fair bit of work to be done in the scenario in which we ourselves work. This is the area of economy of specifically infrastructure clouds. If you look at the SaaS and PaaS clouds, the amount of effective sharing is very great because you are hosting large numbers of tenants on a shared infrastructure whereas the actual sharing happens at the enterprise level. I can be running SaaS clouds on a limited number of physical servers, and I can share that among large numbers of tenants. Compare this with an infrastructure cloud. There, the level of sharing and the economies of scale are more difficult to attain than in a SaaS or PaaS cloud. IaaS is essentially a commodity because it delivers a fairly low-level resource. The efficiencies are extremely important, and the efficiencies are not quite there today because you are sharing at a coarse-grained level. That is where I think the opportunity lies.
SM: Interesting! So you are thinking of optimizing those resources in a highly efficient manner. Those are potentially opportunity for entrepreneurs. Do you have any other thoughts that you would like to share?
FB: We have covered a fair amount of ground already. One of the interesting things, well, it is more a question in my mind, I am not quite sure where the world is going to go there but between public clouds and private clouds if you look at public clouds today and I am talking about infrastructure clouds – they all follow the same kind of provisioning model. So you can go to an infrastructure cloud provider and you can provision yourself a physical server in a fairly coarse-grain fashion. For example, you can pick one of the four processor configurations or one of the four available memory configurations. Then you have to run your application inside that infrastructure.
The interesting thing is that given the way applications work, all are spiky in terms of performance. There are some workloads that are really small, and you are used to running many of them on a single server in your physical server environment. If you run the same application per server instance in your infrastructure cloud, you are not going to be using those servers very efficiently. These are one of the things that I refer to in my earlier comment about the economics of scale in infrastructure clouds.
In a physical data center, you would use server virtualization to consolidate notable workloads. You don’t have that option in infrastructure clouds because you can’t run a virtualized server inside a virtual server. Here is a question I have – is it going to be addressed by the private clouds? If you talk about private clouds, will they follow the same model or are they going to somehow become more flexible and elastic to achieve greater efficiency? You can virtualize a private cloud more than a public cloud. Well, the word “cloud” can mean different things. The infrastructure cloud, especially the public cloud, has become a fairly uniform way of doing things. Amazon EC2 kind of set the model, and everybody is following now.