Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Greg Linden on the Cloud

Greg Linden, of Geeking with Greg fame, was interviewed on Mix about his work in search personalization, recommendation engines and cloud computing. Most of the interview is only sort of interesting, but what really perked my ears up was Greg's observation that anyone scaling a software environment to thousands or tens of thousands of servers will likely continue to run their own data centers, if only because they will want to tweak the hardware to meet their specific needs.

Initially, I thought of this as just another example of a class of data center that will not be quickly (if ever) moved to a third party capacity vendor. Based on examples like Kevin Burton's fine tuning of Spinn3r's infrastructure using Solid State Drives (SSD) instead of RAID and traditional disks, it even seems like there would be many such applications. Ta da! It is proven that there will always be private data centers!

Yet, the more I think about it, I wonder if I wouldn't pay Google's staff to run my Map/Reduce infrastructure, even if it used tens of thousands of servers. I mean, where is the economic boundary between when it is cheaper to purchase your computing from clouds that already have your needed expertise versus hiring staff with specialized skills to meet those same needs?

Alternatively, is this kind of thing a business opportunity for a "boutique" cloud vendor? "Come to Bob's MapReduce Heaven. We'll keep your Hadoop systems running for $99.95, or my name isn't Bob Smith!"

I'll just leave it at that. I'm tired tonight, and coherence has left the building.

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