The arrival of cloud—as the final convergence of network, compute, and data—is a landmark event in the history of ICT. That’s a given. But major questions around its operational and automation domains—and particularly around its governance domains—means that cloud is far from a done deal. And anybody who says otherwise is, quite frankly, fooling themselves.
The cloud equivalent of a mobile network
What we need is the cloud equivalent of a mobile-telecom network. Today’s mobile networks are by far the most global, multi-tenant, scalable, secure infrastructure in the world, to the point where many people are willing to use their smartphones as identification devices and we can travel to the majority of points on the Earth’s surface and make calls without any problem. Our phones switch between different regulatory jurisdictions and we never notice a thing—and we don’t get each other’s text messages by mistake, either. The degree of operational, automation, and governance capacity that these networks offer is quite astonishing, when you stop and think about it.
Telecom tools for hyperscale applications
This, of course, is the reason why telecom tools and systems have already been applied to many of today’s hyperscale web applications. The cross-platform instant-messaging service WhatsApp, to take just one example, was written using the open-source Erlang language originally developed by the telecom industry. Why? Simple—telecom tools and systems help create high-performance, policy-driven, business-critical applications with known economics. Services from top cloud providers may be designed to be resilient, meaning that they can recover more easily from the failure of any unreliable part, but the telecom industry learned the lessons about resiliency more than thirty years ago.
Reversal of trust and transparency models
It should be clear by now that we’re still at the very earliest stages of the cloud age, and there is a definite tendency to overplay what’s been achieved so far while understating the very real issues that remain. For one thing, we’re talking about a total reversal of the trust and transparency models, and achieving that from a technical point of view could take the next 30, 50, or even 100 years—the hope is less, of course. And in the end, it comes down to one question: who can provide the cloud equivalent of a mobile network?
This post is based on an article in Ericsson Business Review titled: Head in the clouds: is the ICT industry fooling itself? Please download the paper to futher explore the themes in this post.