Where is compute (physically) headed in the near future?

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My talk at Structure 2014. Video is at http://new.livestream.com/accounts/74987/events/3000203/videos/54252606/

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Where is compute (physically) headed in the near future?

  1. 1. Where is compute (physically) headed in the near future? CTO bryan@joyent.com Bryan Cantrill @bcantrill
  2. 2. History of computation as oscillation • The history of computation is one of repeated oscillation between centralization and decentralization • These oscillations are driven by economics: • Economies-of-scale drive towards centralization • Disruptive innovations drive towards decentralization • These oscillations can also be seen as the tension between control and freedom — with each having economic advantages with respect to the other
  3. 3. Cloud computing as centralizing force • By the 1960s, pundits foresaw an ultimate centralization: a compute utility that would be public and multi-tenant • The vision was four decades too early: it took the internet + virtualization + commodity compute to yield cloud computing • Public cloud computing is a centralizing force in that providers realize economies-of-scale — especially with respect to human capital and commodity hardware • But is it also a decentralizing force?
  4. 4. Cloud computing as decentralizing force • While the public cloud broadly is a centralizing force, inside the enterprise, cloud computing acts as a decentralizing force • The cloud presents disruptive price/performance that allows for freedom from internal IT schedules and pricing — and from legacy enterprise hardware providers (e.g. “blades and SANs”) • The net is reduced time-to-market for enterprise developers — which is especially important in emerging areas like mobile... • ...but growth of the cloud in the enterprise has reduced level of control — and can compromise its economic advantage
  5. 5. A heterogenous future • Enterprises want to retain the economics and freedom that the cloud represents, while reasserting the economics and control of a centralized IT organization • This points to a heterogeneous future: much enterprise compute will remain on-premises — but the public cloud will remain critical, driving both innovation and economics • The centralization/decentralization oscillation will remain, but the oscillations will not be in the technology itself, but rather in its deployment: public or on-premises
  6. 6. Whither compute? • There are three key determinants for public v. on-premises: • Economics: Rent vs. buy; OPEX vs. CAPEX • Risk Management: Security/compliance — and also risk factors associated with operator-as-threat • Latency: The speed of light is a constant! • These are all factors, but economics dominates: “private cloud” efforts that do not deliver public cloud economics will fail!
  7. 7. The public/on-premises disconnect • There are surprisingly few stacks that run both a multi- tenant public cloud and are available as a software product • AWS doesn’t (appear to) believe in an on-premises cloud — and leading public clouds are not based on OpenStack • For us at Joyent, both operating a public IaaS cloud and shipping its orchestration software (SmartDataCenter) has led to better engineering discipline and a superior artifact! • Viz.: many of our architectural decisions came from the kiln of unspeakable pain that is operating a public service
  8. 8. From heterogenous to hybrid? • To make the leap from a heterogenous cloud to a hybrid one, must have a common substrate that is run both on the public cloud and on-premises • Not enough to have mere “API compatibility”; for workloads to truly straddle the cloud, gritty details like authentication/ authorization/accounting matter a great deal • This implies not just technical hurdles but organizational ones — and as a result, “true” hybrid cloud computing does not feel close at hand...
  9. 9. So where is compute headed? • As it always has, economics will chart the course • Public versus on-premises will not be one decision, but many — and many large enterprises will choose both • The common substrate will be elastic infrastructure and commodity hardware; it is not a choice between cloud computing and legacy enterprise glop! • We believe that there will be more unified providers that make available both infrastructure-as-a-service and the software to run infrastructure-as-a-service!

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