OT: Cloud Computing is coming to ...

Marko Vojinovic vvmarko at gmail.com
Wed Jul 21 02:00:19 UTC 2010

On Tuesday, July 20, 2010 23:18:11 Phil Meyer wrote:
> On 07/20/2010 03:38 PM, Ian Malone wrote:
> > While there are quite a lot of advantages to this there are some
> > disadvantages, particularly in the research setting you describe where
> > each department will have its own set of grants which will have
> > allocations for computing resources and everyone will have a different
> > idea of the priority on their work.
> That is the whole point.  Ideally this is how it works from a ptactical
> point of view:
> I am the Dean of Engineering and we need to run a massive simulation of
> a type 5 tornado on a set of bridge types.  This is not only for
> instruction is a senior level class, but as our main graduate focus for
> the next year.
> We assess our own needs, and access the University 'cloud' website.  I
> order 256 2.6 GHZ or better CPUs, 192GB of RAM, and 2TB of disk space,
> and specify Linux as my OS.
> Thirty minutes later I get an email notification with the hostname, IP
> Address, administrator login, and password for my new compute environment.
> My department is billed substantially less for my compute platform than
> if I built it up myself, and the University will re-use those components
> beginning next summer semester.
> I am the board of Regents administrator for this same university.  I
> need a database engine that is extremely reliable and very fast to house
> all University records.  I get on the 'cloud' web site and specify:
> Oracle, 96GB RAM, 2TB disk space, HA, and remote hot backup.
> Thirty minutes later I get an email with the IP Address and Oracle
> Admintrator password for my new database engine.  These components might
> migrate and update without my knowledge, and they will exist long term.

Nope. Thirty minutes later you will get an email saying that the simulation 
from the Dean of Engineering is using up vast amount of resources, and that 
there is nowhere nearly enough RAM for what you want.

Then you get pissed off, call the Engineering Dean on the phone, and he tells 
you that his department invested more money for the cloud infrastructure than 
you, and that his simulation is more important than your database, from the 
scientific point of view. Then you call University Dean and through him order 
the cloud maintainers to reduce the resources for the simulation in order to 
accommodate for your database.

Dean of Engineering then gets pissed off, and decides to withdraw his share of 
money and build his own cloud, to be used only by the Engineering department. 
Soon enough other departments do the same and you end up having a dozen of 
clouds on the University, and they don't interoperate since people are fighting 
over resources and who invested more money and whose work is more important.

This will of course defeat the purpose of having a cloud in the first place, 
since every department is going to invest into their own equipment, and then 
have it idling or thrown away after their projects are over.

And actually, all this has already happened. I've seen it on a couple of 
Universities. It's just that they were "sharing" (ie. fighting over) *cluster* 
resources, not *cloud* resources. But that's just terminology difference.

When people invest their money into something, they want to be "in charge" of 
it. And if they are supposed to share it with others, there is bound to be a 
lot of friction.

I agree that this cloud environment can be useful in a commercial company 
where there is only one "money bag". But in University environment, somehow I 

Best, :-)

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