Thursday, 17 February 2011

Murals and Clouds

Very lucky to be in Belfast at the moment, at the annual RUGIT (Russell Group IT Directors) awayday. We meet 4 times a year, mainly in London, but for our 2 day session we visit one of our member's city. I've visited Belfast a couple of times before, its a lovely place, and very different from when I first came here 20 years ago when there were still soldiers on the street and guarding the entrance to shops. We had some free time this morning, so a small group of us went in a cab, with a very knowledgeable and friendly driver, on a tour of West Belfast, taking in the Falls and Shanklin Road areas Saw the amazing murals, and the "Peace Line" which separates the Protestant and Catholic areas. Had a great history lesson about the history of this city and the recent and not so recent, Troubles.

Then on to the main business of the day. we started with a session on Cloud Computing, and whether it is relevant to RUGIT. Spent some time arguing about the definition of "Cloud", and the one prosed to us was a service hosted on a just in time provisioned platform and charged on a commodity basis, which I think most of us accepted. It also has the following key concepts:
Scale on demand
Priced on a commodity based on instantaneous usage
Enabled by sharing customers or workload
Should be replicated or clustered and be resilient to a failure of one
Should be geographically dispersed and resilient to failure of individual site
Multiple points of entry
Deliver service close to point of consumption

We looked at the different sorts of Clouds, private, public, hybrid and community, and had a good discussion about whether we could or should get together to form a community cloud, for example in the HPC or research area.

The main part of the discussion was a on the different cloud services - Infrastructure as a Service IAAS
Platform as a Service PAAS
Software as a Service SAAS
(which all sit on cloud storage)
and which of these might be relevant for the different services that we all currently run.
For example, could we have access to a suite of applications through SAAS so we didn't all have to run our own installations of Matlab.
Our conclusion was that Cloud services are currently in their infancy, but are going to become increasingly important- there are some big players involved (Amazon, Microsoft, Google, Oracle) putting a lot of investment in, and we need to make sure we're not left behind, or out.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

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