"Red Shift", yes it’s good… Is anyone talking about gravitational collapse though?

I read the article on “Red Shift” today. “Red-shift” is Greg Papadopoulos‘ attempt to put a name to what we are all seeing happening with “cloud/utility computing”. While the article contains some nice examples of companies actually making use of cloud infrastructure services, I find the attempt to use scientific language to characterize the trend amusing.

Yes, we are moving in an era where monolithic middleware platforms for distributed computing are going to be a thing of the past, where the Web and the services offered through it are the ‘components’, the building blocks for our application needs. IT infrastructure is indeed moving to the cloud and there are only very few companies (i.e. Google, Amazon, Microsoft, perhaps Sun) that can build and support the fabric to support this upcoming outsourcing.

I have been talking about this trend for some time with people and I am really lucky to be in a team and a manager who believe in it and is actually investing in ways to revolutionize the way research is done on the cloud. Interesting times.

However, it is not without concerns that I work towards a vision of “research on the cloud”. The concentration of power to very few companies at a global scale troubles me. What will happen when the most important companies in the world have transitioned their IT operations to the cloud? The hosting companies will have tremendous power and responsibility. Their infrastructure will be powering the world’s economy. What will happen if that power is abused? What will happen if one of those utility computing companies is mismanaged or collapses? What will happen when they decide to pull the plug on some services because they are just not economical anymore?

I think there is a danger that very few companies (mine included) are going to accumulate too much power because the world’s computing infrastructure will depend on them. Can we handle that as a society? As I said, interesting times… but troubling at the same time.

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