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Berkeley speaks cloud whilst VMware whispers

Posted on Wednesday, February 18, 2009 | 3 Comments

Over the last week or so there has been traffic in the cloud space regarding a paper released by memebers of the UC Berkeley RAD Lab.

I had not seen anything come up in the VMware related blog sphere for this so thought I would post some details and links for all the VMware followers who are into cloud too and may have missed it.

There is the actual paper itself "Above the Clouds: A Berkeley View of Cloud Computing."

The website which hosts the executive summary and the following Youtube video introduction by the authors is at http://berkeleyclouds.blogspot.com/.

The commentary on the paper has been mixed. Artur @ O'Reilly recommends it, Nicholas Carr thinks is worth weekend reading, James Urquhart from Cisco writing at CNet thinks they have missed the mark, citing fellow Cisco staff member Krishna Sankar who thinks "As an undergrad work on cloud computing, the paper gets an A+. But as a position paper from eminent academics, I can only give a C-. Granted it correctly identifies many of the trends and obstacles. But that material is widely available!". The most critical (not surprising) is Reuven Cohen.

Lastly Paul Miller has a podcast with an interview of two of the authors.

What got me interested in this originally is its stance on "Private Cloud". I am very keen to understand the definition and space of Private Cloud as it relates to the Enterprise customer market, as I have posted on many times. The issue of Private Clouds being excluded is one of the things that irked Krishna from Cisco as well, he writes :

I think the major disconnect in the paper is the basic definition of a cloud as public. The artificial separation of public/private clouds and the focus on payment were the two areas where their definition has gone awry. Cloud is an architectural artifact and a business model of computing. But clouds are clouds – internal or external, public or private. The internal vs. external is only a spatial artifact – which side of the firewall. Not worth a demarcation when we talk about the domain of cloud computing. Which side of the internet (firewall) does the cloud infrastructure lie, should not be the criteria. By their definition, they have disenfranchised the whole set of clouds inside organizations. The internal-external cloud integration across data, management, policy and compute planes is an important topic which this model conveniently skips. Also as I mentioned earlier, utility is the consumption not a payment model. A big organization can have a cloud computing infrastructure and it’s business units can leverage the elasticity – no need for a credit card, a charge back model will do.

I too see great opportunity for internal clouds inside organisations where companies deliver remote elastic services to their organisation. These internal clouds are then likely to be federated with one or more external cloud providers for even greater level of elasticity or additional services.

VMware are really missing from the discussion here (except the occasional thought by Mike DiPetrillo). VMware announced vCloud in September 2008, its now late Feb 2009 and they have done very little to direct the market on this space, and they probably have one of the largest contributions to make. If Cisco can be getting the word out how come VMware can't. Yes its VMworld next week and they may be saving some things for that, yes the vCloud API is to be released sometimes this year, but the absence of noise is great.

If VMware want to play in this space they need to contribute more voice to the space, even if its only their understanding around the market and its definitions. They don't need to release product details. If VMware are not part of defining this space they may find the industry ends up defining it for them.

Lets see what is released at VMworld Europe next week and then how the discussion pans out. I hope to be pleasantly surprised.


Update: Paul Miller just posted an note on the paper regarding the interview in the podcast.


  1. Anonymous1:00 am

    VMware has been pretty quiet on things. There's a couple of reasons for that.

    1) We're sort of the man behind the curtains in the Service Provider space. We're the enablers for Service Providers to build and market cloud services. Companies like Savvis and Terremark have both launched cloud services and guess what - they're powered by VMware. You really won't hear VMware tooting its own horn here although I guess we could. Instead you'll see us be much more like "Intel Inside". You know that the best cloud services in the world will be running VMware without us having to tell you about it.

    2) It appears that no one believes in Enterprise Cloud. Well, that's not really a reason to be quiet here because Enterprise Cloud is real and people are already doing it and have been for some time. For those highly regarded academics that doubt Enterprise Cloud - well, they're just academics. For the rest of us running real datacenters we know the true value of Enterprise Cloud. Don't worry, VMware will be much louder on this during and after VMworld. The problem is that most of the technology we'll be releasing for this is in release candidate stage and we can't talk publicly about it just yet. That will start to change next week when we give people a look at VMworld.

    Given that I now focus on everything cloud and datacenter architecture related at VMware I'll make you this promise. I'll start to write a lot more on these subjects starting next week. Just click on the link and bookmark my blog (I know you already have it, Rodos). Until then it's back to dreaming on what's possible since it's about to become reality thanks to VMware.

  2. Anonymous4:25 am

    Best explanation I've seen why people are reacting against private clouds (when it seems to obvious to us) is from Illuminata's Gordon Haff on Don't call them private clouds. Both economic model concerns as well as trying to avoid labeling every data center a cloud.

    Here is EMC's Chuck Hollis on private clouds


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