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UC Berkeley Lab Examines Cloud Computing Obstacles 58

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the just-throw-money-at-it dept.
alphadogg writes "UC Berkeley researchers have outlined their view of cloud computing, which they say has great opportunity to exploit unprecedented IT resources if vendors can overcome a litany of obstacles. 'We argue that the construction and operation of extremely large-scale, commodity-computer data centers at low-cost locations was the key necessary enabler of Cloud Computing,' The paper outlines 10 obstacles to cloud computing [PDF]."
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UC Berkeley Lab Examines Cloud Computing Obstacles

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  • Vaporware Alert (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Spazztastic (814296) <spazztasticNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Friday February 13, 2009 @03:39PM (#26847937)
    Do you trust your data being up in the "cloud"? Do you want to risk that company tanking and your work going away? I don't. I can work fine over a IPSec link to my storage server (with more redundancy) and run subversion to keep track of my work.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by klock (915150)
      What happens if it rains?
    • What Vaporware? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by TubeSteak (669689)

      Cloud Computing is far from vaporware. Or are you suggesting Google & Amazon are fly-by-night operations that might nuke your data on their way out the door?

      As long as you're willing to accept certain compromises, Cloud Computing can be the best thing ever.

      • Or are you suggesting Google & Amazon are fly-by-night operations that might nuke your data on their way out the door?
         
        I'd suggest that Google & Amazon are fly-by-night capitalist organizations who will nuke your data with the first late payment on a bill.

      • For example, AOL nuked paying customers' websites, some of which had been hosted there for 15+ years, with a mere 2 weeks' notice, which resulted in some people losing their sites entirely if they were out of email contact for those 2 weeks and didn't have local backups.

      • You purchased the kool-aid clearly enough.

        Cloud Computing = Server(s) <--> Client(s) This concept has been around for a lot of years now, you're just picking up on the new buzzword for it.

      • but is those really in the cloud computing business.

        To me they seam a lot more like traditional mainframe/relocation companies i just dont see any cloud in singning a big deal with amazon stating what your entiled to and under what terms as anything different then what you did 20 years ago when different companes rulled the scene, and what exactly is the difference between what google offers and what compuserve AOL and the rest offered those 20 years ago when the internet went mainstram, your still signing

    • What if you run your own cloud? You'd surely trust your datas safety, then.

      Along those lines...
      At what point does clustered storage (RHEL has had this since mid RHEL-4) become a cloud? At Amazon's level, Google's, a single rack of RAID boxes, colo'ed RAID boxes? I'm not even sure that the idea of cloud has an exact requirement that makes it a 'cloud'.

      There should be an RFC for this kind of thing. OK, I'll get off your cloud, now.
      • by Tolkien (664315)

        What if you run your own cloud? You'd surely trust your datas safety, then.

        OMG I think you're on to something! What if we ALL owned our own clouds? We could then host our own content on our own clouds safely! We could even connect all our clouds together in the form of a network, or "Web" if you will. That would allow us to share all our public information together whilst keeping our private data separated!

        Think of the possibilities!

        Note: I thought of and typed this post before reading the rest of yours :)

    • Well who knows what the security will be like? As it is, end users hardly ever update their system, so it's best to make the operating system as minimal as possible. The cloud will likely be far better maintained for that purpose.

      .

      Then again, I certainly wouldn't store everything on it. Unimportant files and data sure, but not things with sensitive information. People will be idiots anyways, their identities are stolen all the time, so what difference does it make?

    • the indisputable fact that cloud computing is buzz-word bull-crap, didn't make the top ten list. I find that strange...
    • Even 'the cloud' needs availability procedures, backups, and though provided to the entire process.

      But you didn't RTFA, did you?

      Developers are one community supported in the paper, but it mostly speaks to SaaS, including observations of Ellison to Stallman.

    • Re:Vaporware Alert (Score:4, Insightful)

      by morgan_greywolf (835522) on Friday February 13, 2009 @04:04PM (#26848317) Homepage Journal

      Do you trust your data being up in the "cloud"?

      Why not? Is it any worse than trusting your data being in the datacenter? As long as you have good backups and a good disaster recovery plan, who cares where your data sits? As long as the company whose servers the data is sitting on have appropriate SLAs that say how the data and access to the data will be protected and to what extent, how, etc., is that any different from the SLA you have with your IT department?

    • Re:Vaporware Alert (Score:4, Insightful)

      by jellomizer (103300) on Friday February 13, 2009 @04:24PM (#26848613)

      Do you trust yourself to handle the company information and backups and data storage... If so is that you full time or near full time job.

      Secondly if you company is going to go to cloud computer you should be smart enough to create part of the contract the ability to get your data at request even after service has ended for a period of time.

      Oddly enough a piece of paper with a couple of signatures on it works better then any technical solution.

      Your argument is the same as people who are afraid to fly. The fact that your fate is in someone else hands even if it is statically safer, you feel more comfortable when you are in control.

    • Do you want to risk that company tanking and your work going away?

      Google is not likely to tank. Nor is Amazon. Nor is Rackspace, for that matter.

      They are certainly not likely to tank without providing at least some warning and access to your data.

      I can work fine over a IPSec link to my storage server (with more redundancy)

      How is that more redundancy, exactly? Do you have your work saved across multiple machines in multiple datacenters, each with multiple generator backup, multiple backbone connections, etc?

      No, you have a "server" -- implying one server. When it goes down, you're fucked.

      and run subversion to keep track of my work.

      And that just lost you all credibility. Were you running a DVC

    • by darkuncle (4925)

      Do you trust your data being up in the "cloud"? Do you want to risk that company tanking and your work going away? I don't. I can work fine over a IPSec link to my storage server (with more redundancy) and run subversion to keep track of my work.

      if you are trusting your data to only one provider, whether it's yourself or some "cloud computing" vendor, you're doing it wrong.

      Redundancy in services/vendors and backups/mirroring is just good practice, and applies whether you're computing circa 1989 or 2009. If you're using multiple vendors, the downside risk of any single one of them going AWOL for some reason is significantly mitigated.

      (that said, there's always a SPOF somewhere with the current hierarchical DNS system, but even that can be made fairl

    • Do you want to risk that company tanking and your work going away? I don't.

      It's a serious risk. So serious that TFA listed it first in their list of 10 obstacles to cloud computing. Their suggested solution: common APIs and interfaces so that you can actually do your cloud computing on two providers with each providing full failover capability.

    • by psetzer (714543)

      Boy I bet they feel dumb for ignoring those issues and not making them the first three obstacles they address.

    • by c00p3r (1308609)
      be sure, you're using compressed scp with dsa-keys auth over that ipsec link. and of course, all files must be encrypted with 2048-bit keys.
  • Hmm. (Score:4, Funny)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Friday February 13, 2009 @03:39PM (#26847947) Journal
    Where is Aristophanes when you need him?
  • RTFA (Score:3, Insightful)

    by djupedal (584558) on Friday February 13, 2009 @03:44PM (#26848027)

    From the article's 'Executive Summary':

    "Moreover, companies with large batch-oriented tasks can get results as quickly as their programs can scale, since using 1000 servers for one hour costs no more than using one server for 1000 hours."

    Is that a given? Is it that simple? I think that statement assumes too much...

    As an example, it assumes all servers are operating on the same grid, in the same environment. Last time I checked, the cloud was the epitome of vagary.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by idontgno (624372)

      Is that a given? Is it that simple? I think that statement assumes too much...

      Nonsense. The Cloud has spoken. Blessed be the Puffies of the Cloud.

      Last time I checked, the cloud was the epitome of vagary.

      Which means you have no evidence to cast doubts and aspersions. Silence, Infidel! The Cloud has spoken! Blessed be!

      OK, that was over the top.

      Really, this is just another cycle of "$TECHNOLOGY_I_AM_SELLING is the GAME CHANGER that will SAVE THE WORLD!!!!!111one" I've been in IT 25 years. This repetitivenes

    • Re:RTFA (Score:5, Insightful)

      by brian_tanner (1022773) on Friday February 13, 2009 @04:24PM (#26848603)

      "Moreover, companies with large batch-oriented tasks can get results as quickly as their programs can scale, since using 1000 servers for one hour costs no more than using one server for 1000 hours." Is that a given? Is it that simple? I think that statement assumes too much... As an example, it assumes all servers are operating on the same grid, in the same environment. Last time I checked, the cloud was the epitome of vagary.

      Nonsense! I'm starting to get tired of all this "last time I checked" bullshit. You NEVER checked. My aggression is not leveled at you necessarily, but at all of the Slashdot posters who bring up the same arguments every time there is a cloud computing story.

      The truth is, Amazon's offering (for EXAMPLE), lets you start up multiple virtual machine instances, and you pay per minute per instance. Lots of (NOT ALL) academic and industrial research relies on running many independent experiments. Let's try algorithm X with parameter set [1...100]. If each parameter set takes an hour, then you can either invest 100 hours on 1 machine, or 1 hour on a 100 machines. Aside from a tiny bit of overhead to create scripts to start the virtual instances and upload the jobs, this works exactly as advertised. It is great for some of us, and it's that simple.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by djupedal (584558)

        The 'cloud' is a metaphor for the Internet - not for a controlled service from Google or Amazon. 'cloud computing' is defined as software-as-a-service over the internet which means a major factor outside a controlled environ.

        Berkeley, in the exec. summary says "The datacenter hardware and software is what we will call a Cloud."

        Thus 'cloud' has been hijacked and redefined for purposes of... I prefer to stick to the original definition and not ignore it. Of course, by their definition, their model and their p

    • As an example, it assumes all servers are operating on the same grid, in the same environment.

      I suspect they are thinking about things like EC2, which has a pricing model exactly like that -- per hour per server, no matter how many of each.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 13, 2009 @03:47PM (#26848077)

    Table 1: Quick Preview of Top 10 Obstacles to and Opportunities for Growth of Cloud Computing.
    Obstacle Opportunity
    1 Availability of Service Use Multiple Cloud Providers; Use Elasticity to Prevent DDOS
    2 Data Lock-In Standardize APIs; Compatible SW to enable Surge Computing
    3 Data Confidentiality and Auditability Deploy Encryption, VLANs, Firewalls; Geographical Data Storage
    4 Data Transfer Bottlenecks FedExing Disks; Data Backup/Archival; Higher BW Switches
    5 Performance Unpredictability Improved VM Support; Flash Memory; Gang Schedule VMs
    6 Scalable Storage Invent Scalable Store
    7 Bugs in Large Distributed Systems Invent Debugger that relies on Distributed VMs
    8 Scaling Quickly Invent Auto-Scaler that relies on ML; Snapshots for Conservation
    9 Reputation Fate Sharing Offer reputation-guarding services like those for email
    10 Software Licensing Pay-for-use licenses; Bulk use sales

    ironic: my captcha is "retyping"

  • by ErichTheRed (39327) on Friday February 13, 2009 @03:58PM (#26848243)

    All the analysis in the world on cloud computing boils down to a simple fact -- someone else owns your infrastructure and data. If you want to go down this road, your company has to answer these questions:
    - Are we comfortable with letting someone else have our data, if they promise not to let it get stolen or use it themselves? Do we really trust that promise?
    - Contracts and SLAs are all important, but will getting a payment or free service from a vendor for a 5-hour outage make up for all the lost business? If not, how big does that payout need to be?
    - Is the vendor really competent enough to handle the service you're outsourcing to them? Vendors have been known to hire the lowest-possible-cost staff to manage things like this...
    - How easy is it to get your data back if you want to leave? Are you stuck with the vendor forever?
    - If any sort of app deployment is involved, is your dev, QA and engineering organization good enough so that rolling out to production isn't a messy "oops, let's fix that by manually tweaking the system while it's running" scenario? Vendors generally don't let you do that.

    I think the concept really works well for commodity stuff like mail hosting. Whether you trust core business apps to the cloud really depends on your comfort level!

    • I certainly agree with you when it comes to small and midsize companies.

      However, where I really see a potential advantage to cloud computing is very large companies that operate multiple data centers for their own business use. If these companies were able to start using cloud computing for their internal needs, I could see a huge potential for hardware, software, and energy savings. I have seen large companies run tons of servers, all far under their capacity out of a reluctance to run multiple app
  • by psydeshow (154300) on Friday February 13, 2009 @03:58PM (#26848247) Homepage

    The list:

    1 Availability of Service
    2 Data Lock-In
    3 Data Conïdentiality and Auditability
    4 Data Transfer Bottlenecks
    5 Performance Unpredictability
    6 Scalable Storage
    7 Bugs in Large Distributed Systems
    8 Scaling Quickly
    9 Reputation Fate Sharing
    10 Software Licensing

    I'm surprised they don't mention my biggest pet peeve with cloud services: lack of operational transparency. You don't know who the admins are, what their policies are, and what code they are using to operate the system.

    It's a big black box and you're just supposed to trust that Amazon (or whoever) has sound policies, peer-reviewed code, and a reasonable level of accountability built-in. That's a bit like trusting your bank to only make good loans.

    I actually want to know who the admins are. I want to see the code. I want to read the policies. Is that so wrong?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by DerekLyons (302214)

      That's a bit like trusting your bank to only make good loans.

      Nobody with any sense expects their bank to only make good loans - as doing so requires a fully functional crystal to determine who'll lose their job, what company will suffer a massive setback, etc.. etc.. over the life of the loan. What you do reasonably expect is for the proportion of bad loans to be minor in relation to the proportion of good loans.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      >> Is that so wrong?

      Yeah it is. A cloud service requires more trust in one provider but offers far more efficiency than requiring trust in multiple providers (e.g. my colo, cisco, netapp,redhat,etc..) A successful business has to be able to balance mitigating risk with trusting providers.

      So.. while you are interviewing admins and auditing code everyone else is busy making money. Guess who is still in business in 5 years?
  • It seems we are soon going to need access to a big cloud of mainframes in order to read Slashdot... I have no idea what it is doing, but its Javascript freezes Firefox way too often...
  • which they say has great opportunity to exploit unprecedented IT resources if vendors can overcome a litany of obstacles.

    if the resources have never been seen, how do we know they are even there...? :-)

  • We will be responding to feedback and continuing the discussion at our blog: http://abovetheclouds.cs.berkeley.edu/ [berkeley.edu]
  • by CopaceticOpus (965603) on Friday February 13, 2009 @05:00PM (#26849179)

    Every time a story mentions the "cloud", we get to enjoy many complaints about the use of this buzzword. I think it's time to accept it. It is a useful term, describing a trend which is only going to grow over time. Having a concise way to refer to it will be convenient, regardless of what you think of the trend.

    When people started talking about the "web", did you complain about this buzzword too? After all, it's nothing but a system of interlinked hypertext documents accessed via the Internet. Why not just say that every time?

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by geekoid (135745)

      but it's not.

      Cloud still has several interpretation.

      Sometimes it's data, sometimes it's cpu cycles, sometimes user connections.

      Short of "Some IT stuff done someplace else."

  • Outsourcing the hardware isn't the benefit. Amazon and friends have that end of the game.

    Within some large organization - university, corp, whatever - there are typically a huge number of workstations with lots of redundant hardware that is usually sitting idle, lots of departments with varying computing needs, and some ever changing number of servers, some crusty, some doing lebenty-jillion different jobs...

    It's very handy for various departments to be able to provision servers as they need. Some pool of t

  • by DutchUncle (826473) on Friday February 13, 2009 @05:11PM (#26849335)
    Once upon a time, when I started working with computers, you had a very dumb terminal connected to a remote computer. For lots of years the objective was to bring more intelligence closer to the user; editing terminals led to local storage. At the point where we could have individual computers all to ourselves, anyone acknowledging the splintering effect - the fact that you couldn't add back the cycles and memory to make one big computer - was mocked as a throwback to the outdated mainframe days. Same for anyone pointing out the problems with backup and maintenance. After all, why would you want to leave your work under the thumb of the people in the glass house when you can have your very own personal computer?

    Since then we've been trying to find the best way to split the load between local and remote intelligence, distributing processing across communications, whether it's for business applications or multiplayer games. And most important, we have found that one solution does not fit all problems. Sometimes distributed knowledge addresses the problem or enables a brand new activity (like the multiplayer games); sometimes close direct access offers the most speed or best function (like Google's massive data centers).

    So now, after we can put multi-gigahertz multi-core processors and gigabytes of RAM and terabytes of storage at the disposal of each individual, people are reinventing the remote mainframe. Call it a server, call it a cloud, whatever.

    It is to laugh.

    Those who will not learn from history are doomed to rediscover lots of things at their own cost.
    • by cL0h (624108)
      You seem to be operating from a very narrow definition of "the cloud".
      The cloud is not a central location, it is distributed.
      Service Oriented Architectures allow an application developer to cherry pick services available from disparate distributed locations knowing that the interfaces for each will be well defined (using WSDL or the like) and the transport mechanism ( e.g. SOAP over HTTP) will play nicely and not require custom translation of inputs and outputs.
      There are plenty of good examples of SOA or
  • I can see cloud computing encompassing a particular subset of applications that thrive on web space, things that absolutely require constant connectivity to function up to their intended spec, but the concept just doesn't fit a whole hell of a lot of applications.

    Client/server stuff isn't going away. Thankfully. The more you have to do everything through the browser, the more you realize that you just can't make your application as seamless and clean as you can when you can configure your own client to
  • After working with VPS hosting for several years, and starting to build larger infrastructure proposals with virtualization and 'cloud' resources in mind, this particular paper is going to be very useful. We have already been running into serious portability, security/compliance, and QA issues. Nevertheless, since we have a pulse, we can still see how kick-a** the price points are, and would much rather work through these issues in a community rather than bumble around with them ourselves. Just try to mo
  • Jason Scott of textfiles.com has a nice take in Fuck the Cloud [textfiles.com]

  • for many tasks and that's a problem in much of the world, America especially (unless you live in Verizon FiOS territory, which I don't).

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