job, Ramleth started a company inside
Bechtel called Genuity, which was an
early ISP and hosting company. Genuity
was later sold to GTE.
Steve Bourne is CTO at El Dorado
Ventures, where he helps assess ven-ture-capital investment opportunities.
Prior to El Dorado, Bourne worked in
software engineering management at
Cisco, Sun, DEC, and Silicon Graphics. He is a past president of ACM and
chairs both the ACM Professions Board
and the ACM Queue Editorial Board.
Mache Creeger is principal of Emergent Technology Associates, where he
provides marketing and business development enterprise infrastructure
consulting for large and small technology companies. Beginning his career as
a research computer scientist, Creeger
has held marketing and business development roles at MIPS, Sun, Sony, and
InstallShield, as well as various start-ups. He is an ACM columnist and moderator and head wrangler of the ACM
CTO Roundtable series.
cReeGeR: Let’s begin the discussion with
a general question and then dig down
into some of the deeper issues. How
would you define cloud computing?
TucKeR: Cloud computing is not so
much a definition of a single term as
a trend in service delivery taking place
today. It’s the movement of application services onto the Internet and the
increased use of the Internet to access
a wide variety of services traditionally
originating from within a company’s
BADRos: There are two parts to it. The
first is about just getting the computation cycles outside of your walled garden and being able to avoid building
data centers on your premises.
But there’s a second aspect that is
equally important. It is about the data
being in the cloud and about the people
living their lives up there in a way that
facilitates both easy information exchange and easy data analysis.
The great search tools available today are a direct result of easy access to
data because the Web is already in the
cloud. As more and more user data is
stored in the cloud, there is a huge opportunity that transcends just computation being off-premises because there
Le W TucKeR
is not so much a
definition of a single
term as a trend in
It’s the movement
services onto the
Internet and the
of the Internet
to access a
variety of services
within a company’s
is a relatively high-bandwidth connection to all those bits.
TucKeR: Tim O’Reilly’s definition of
Web 2.0 was that the value of data significantly increases when a larger community of people contributes. Greg
[Badros]’s characterization complements that nicely.
VoGeLs: It’s not just data. I also believe that clouds are a platform for
general computation and/or services.
While telcos are moving their platforms
into clouds for cost-effectiveness, they
also see opportunities to become a public garden platform. In this scenario,
people can run services that either extend the telco’s services or operate independently. If, for example, you want
to build an application that has click-to-call or a new set of algorithms such
as noise detection in conference calls,
then you can run those services connecting to the telco’s platform. The key
is having execution access to a common
Because we have a shared platform,
we can do lots of new things with data,
but I believe we can do new things with
services as well.
TucKeR: I see it as three layers: SaaS
(software-as-a-service), which delivers
applications such as Google Apps and
Salesforce.com; PaaS (
platform-as-a-service), which provides foundational
elements for developing new applications; and IaaS (
infrastructure-as-a-service), which is what Amazon has led
with, showing that infrastructure can
also be accessed through the cloud. I
believe it is in this infrastructure layer—in which we’ve virtualized the base
components of compute and storage,
delivering them over the Internet—
where we have seen the fundamental
breakthrough over the past two years.
VoGeLs: Understanding cloud computing requires a look at its precursors,
such as SaaS before it became this plat-form-like environment; SOA (
service-oriented architecture); virtualization
(not just CPU virtualization but virtualization in general); and massively scalable distributed computing.
These were technologies that we
needed to understand fully before cloud
computing became viable. We needed
to be able to provide these services at
scale, in a reliable manner, in a way that
only academics thought about 10 years
ago. Building on this foundation, we