Cloud Computing Demonstration and commentary:
This is a guy who’s showing why and how he uses Amazon EC2 and S3 cloud computing technologies to quickly provision a very powerful server to demonstrate the Splunk app to customers.
You could run up any OS/app that amazon provide the framework for (such as a J2EE app on Redhat JBoss middleware) and in this case he’s demonstrating Splunk, a custom search engine for logfiles.
The virtual box is live on the internet or “in the cloud”, so he can demo it to clients anywhere he has net access and it’s up and running quickly on a very powerful virtual server, showing them what it can do very quickly. You only pay for when the server is turned on at an hourly rate starting at $0.10/hr for the smallest server image. So you can have VERY fast/big servers doing demos for short bursts quite cheaply, pay as you go.
My thinking is that this type of cloud computing paradigm might be the middle ground between hosting applications fully in-house versus fully outsourcing the hosting of applications where the outsource company does it all for you. Full outsourcing is proving more and more idiotic, depending on what gerbil outsource company you go with AND what terms the contract you’ve agreed to lets them get away with, as companies are now pulling lots of stuff back in-house again.
So the in-house solution includes all the capital cost, management and maintenance as well as the political interference by bean counters associated with provisioning capital purchases, as well as an amount of “risk”.
The outsourced solution moves the blame risk off site but then you seem to lose LOTS of control over your software/hardware environments and you’re at the mercy of company X to do a good job at a decent price. It seems like people are finding out that contracts signed on the basis of ”outsourcing is cheaper” are getting stung when it turns out to be terrible service and support at a massively bloated cost compared to an in-house solution. Another thing pushing outsourcing appears to be the lack of IT workers who put up with stupidity by employers and the IT professional having the ability to jump ship to a better job easily due to the current job market.
So maybe cloud computing can provide the middle ground. Outsourced the costs, risks, management and maintenance but keep control in house and have very fast and powerful provisioning while saving money by using a pay-as-you-use model.
The question remains, exactly what do you use this for? The guy in the video uses it for provisioning fast demos, fair enough, but would this be suitable for full production/stage server environments or more
suited to development/test environments? Seems like you can pick and choose, mix and match. Maybe have one or more “core” production servers run in house and then quickly provision some additional powerful nodes using Amazon EC2 as demand on your services and applications increases, that way if Amazon goes down or has issues, your “core” servers are still there trucking along as tough as nails.
And of course, Amazon does go down from time to time as noted in this GigaOm article about the eight hour Amazon S3 outage in July this year:
The fragility of cloud computing:
Another increasing trend might be cafe bedouin workers, as working from home/anywhere has many benefits and doing so would be easier if the applications and systems a sysadmin manages are in “the cloud”, rather than locked up behind some outdated company firewall with crappy remote access options. A bedouin could work from anywhere that has net access. Right now I have to suffer either citrix access (requires citrix client for a secure tunnel, slow access that isn’t very flexible) or some crappy cisco VPN rubbish that I haven’t tried to get working in Linux yet (though the citrix access works ok in linux, watch this space for my Ubuntu 8.04 install guide) and that forces me to be entirely on the corporate network when connected. A better solution would be to open ssh so I can tunnel whatever I want into the work network and have the rest of what I do routing locally to the internet rather than via the corporate censored network. Yes, we are censored from viewing many things automatically at my work. For example, treehugger.com is blocked for the reason of “advocacy groups” with Websense.
Some guides on going Bedouin:
Article in Web Work Daily from Sept. 2006, great site that I read regularly:
Another article from Feb 2008:
So how did the Amazon EC2 elastic compute cloud come about? Jeff Bezos explains in this interview:
How many readers out there use cloud computing services now or see them as the future? What problems does the industry need to address before cloud computing becomes the norm? How many readers are successful cafe bedouins and what type of work allows you to do so? Let me know with some comments, thanks.