scale fail: cloud addiction

I've always been wary of anything that is being hyped.  Until the hype dies, I'm prejudiced against it, and I won't give it a fair chance.

This is not just for technology issues -- I do that to movies and books also.  I still won't bother to read Da Vinci Code, although I finally did see Forrest Gump years later, when I became convinced it was OK.

But it's much more true for technology.  Here, unlike a movie I have not seen or a book I have not read, I can actually expect to have an intuitive feel for the truth already, so the prejudice lasts longer and very rarely reverses.


The "cloud", to me, has always been just that: a bit of water and a lot of hot air.  I can certainly see some uses for cloud computing in small and medium enterprises -- the smaller the better.  An extreme case is an individual running his own web-based business -- finding a cloud provider is ideal for him in terms of bang for the buck.

But I've always believed that the larger you get, the more you lose by going to the cloud.  At some point, the economies of shared infrastructure disappear simply because as you get bigger and bigger, you are less amenable to sharing.

Josh Berkus (of Postgres) wrote a very fantastic 2-part article series called "Scale Fail" for LWN.  Part 2 of this, at http://lwn.net/SubscriberLink/443775/a17084926dbefa54/ , has a section called "Cloud Addiction", which is well worth a read.  Here're some extracts:

Several of our clients are refusing to move off of cloud hosting even when it is demonstrably killing their businesses. This problem is at its worst on Amazon Web Services (AWS) because Amazon has no way to move off their cloud without leaving Amazon entirely, but I've seen it with other public clouds as well.


[restrictions on memory, processing power, storage throughput and network configuration inherent on a large scale public cloud, as well as the high cost of round-the-clock busy cloud instances] are "good enough" for getting a project off the ground, but start failing when you need to make serious performance demands on each node.


That's when you've reached scale fail on the cloud. At that point, the company has no experience managing infrastructure, no systems staff, and no migration budget. More critically, management doesn't have any process for making decisions about infrastructure. Advice that a change of hosting is required are met with blank stares or even panic.


(heard on slashdot) WMI

WMI is great. If you liked the complexity of CORBA, COBOL, VB Script, and the syntax of SQL, you will love WMI.


do you still want an Apple ipod/ipad/iphone?

Here's a completely different take on the issue than my normal "freedom" rant:


And by the way, this is not new. The suicides were reported months
ago. The response from the guilty parties is what is new.

And this is not the first time something like this has been found
about US companies either. I think the most famous such scandal
involved Nike, in 97 or so.

And I'm not saying Apple is the only guilty party -- I'm sure there
are many others. However, with the amount of customer mindshare Apple
has, it ought to be leading the way in preventing this sort of abuse.
It ought to be caring about ethics and morality, not just legality.

But I don't think it will -- most corporations have a "duty" to not
care about anything except making money, actually. And they made a
lot of it -- 14 billion dollars PROFIT, (after taxes) last year!

Now you have to think: do I want to help them make more?


facebook as the ultimate spy network



"Facebook in particular is the most appalling spying machine that has ever been invented. Here we have the world's most comprehensive database about people, their relationships, their names, their addresses, their locations and the communications with each other, their relatives, all sitting within the United States, all accessible to US intelligence. Facebook, Google, Yahoo – all these major US organizations have built-in interfaces for US intelligence. It's not a matter of serving a subpoena. They have an interface that they have developed for US intelligence to use.

Now, is it the case that Facebook is actually run by US intelligence? No, it's not like that. It's simply that US intelligence is able to bring to bear legal and political pressure on them. And it's costly for them to hand out records one by one, so they have automated the process. Everyone should understand that when they add their friends to Facebook, they are doing free work for United States intelligence agencies in building this database for them." (emphasis mine -- Sitaram).

unbelievable (operation pumpkin; prince william's wedding)


no words can summarise this.  I'm wondering if this is a joke...