Posted by: Christian Verstraete | November 1, 2010

Can Cloud learn from Smart Grid: Cloud 2.0

The other day I was reading an article about  the smart grid. That reminded me of a aection in Tom Friedman’s latest book Hot, Flat and Crowded where he explains how electric cars can serve as buffers, releasing the excess electricity they stored when demand is high, making money on the way.

This is a really interesting model that could apply to cloud. Most servers are linked to each other through the internet. Let now assume they are considered as a resource pool that is available for public cloud activities. When an enterprise does not need server capacity it is released to the global pool of available resources that are then used by the one that needs it. Obviously along the way, the one who uses pays some money to the one who allows his servers to be used.

This is already done, although without the financial elements, in projects such as SETI (Search for ExtraTerestrial Intelligence), but using grid technology. Can we move this one step further and use it within the frame of cloud computing. In March 2009, the London School of Economics came out with an interesting article, titled “Digital Ecosystems in the Cloud: Towards Community Cloud Computing”. In that article they describe the model on how enterprises link together to share compute power.

Obviously, a number of elements need to be addressed to ensure such environment works and we may not address all of these today. In particular the aspects of security has to be taken into account. How can servers been made available for a “public cloud” when they are part of a data centre that may not like public access? How do we ensure we are compliant while using servers without knowing in which geographies they are?

Is the idea of opening up your compute capacity to the world and making a buck doing it, far fetched? Probably in the current state of affairs. No standards are available yet,making it difficult to share infrastructure, security is not yet where it needs to be, the intelligent provisioning of geographically distributed environments, taking the network bandwidth and latency into account, is not fully baked yet. But it might be the way to go to. Any ideays on the subject?

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