Thursday, January 22, 2009

The Future of Computing (Part 2)

In the future "the network will be the computer". This old marketing
phrase from Sun Microsystems will be fulfilled literally.

Right now people still think of computers as individual entities, but
that is changing. We build supercomputers not with big iron, but with
collections of smaller computers. For example, the fastest computer in
the world as I write this, the IBM Roadrunner consists of a cluster of
3240 computers.

Another example is grid computing where you can add or subtract
computers to depending on the needs of the users. From Grid computing
we get cloud computing where real-time scalable resources are provided
as a service over the Internet. These services are typically provided
from a collection of, you guessed it, PCs in a data center somewhere.

The current situation is that there is not one cloud right now, but a
number of individual clouds each provided by a vendor. Now here is the
deal. When these clouds seamlessly inter-operate, then we will have
one global computer and one global operating system.

For this reason, I think this might be very important going forward:

Unfortunately, it looks to me like they still want to base this on an
HTTP like protocol.

I would love to see the internet as a massively distributed operating
system something like Plan 9 but on a much larger scale, with public
APIs for storage servers, authentication servers, and I/O or
application servers. And, of course, the application I/O should be
something more suitable for the purpose like NewIO instead
of HTTP.