Wednesday, December 3, 2008

The Internet as a Cloud Infrastructure Model

In my never ending quest to speak to every venture capitalist on the planet, I find myself in Boston this evening and pondering something I said in a few of my investor meetings today.

In one of my famous off topic VC rants, I described my vision for a unified cloud interface using an analogy of the Internet's self governing model as the basis of an adaptive enterprise cloud. Funny as it may sound this is the first I've used this particular analogy.

The Internet itself would appear to be the perfect model for a "cloud platform". The Internet uses a self governing model whereby there is no single administrative entity and must continue to operate in the event of critical failures. By design, the web's core architecture assumes there will be sporadic global failures and can fail gracefully without effecting the internet as a whole. The Internet exists and functions as a result of the fact millions of separate services and network providers work independently by using common data transfer protocols to exchange communications and information with one another (which in turn exchange communications and information with still other systems). There is no centralized storage location, control point, or communications channel for the Internet. The very decentralized architecture of the internet has allowed it to adapt and evolve overtime, almost like a living organism.

One of the reasons why the internet works is because of its open communication protocols, by their very nature they form the ideal model for a cloud coordination tool - exactly the kind of system that can automate the routine 99 percent of computer-to-computer interactions you'd want in a cloud platform. But there is a catch. Protocols automate interoperability only if all core Internet service providers agree to use the same ones. (Enter Cloud Interoperability)

Open standards are key to the Internet's composition and are a core component to interoperability within a truly distributed command and control structure. The internet works because anyone who wants to create a Web site can freely use the relevant document and network protocol formats (HTML and HTTP, etc), secure in the knowledge that anyone who wants to look at their Web site will expect the same format. An open standard serves as a common intermediate language - a simplifying approach to the complex coordination problem of allowing anyone to communicate successfully with anyone else.

My random thought for this evening.

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