Well, this title no doubt will get your attention. No, it’s not about magic carpet rides in the clouds. It’s yet another attempt to try to explain some of the nuances behind cloud computing.
This idea came about an internal research discussion with a bunch of us cloud analysts pondering the meaning of life and clouds and stuff. During this discussion, my colleague Tom Austin, who was in the process of a remodeling project and apparently had carpet and tiles on the brain, made some interesting comments. He noted and we developed a (hopefully) helpful connection that elasticity, a key characteristic of cloud computing, was analogous to the soft and comfortable property of carpet and that tile had very different characteristics. The conversation turned to putting carpet on tile (and vice versa).
Bear with me. It goes like this:
Tile is like the hard, real, tangible things – like servers, bits, virtual machines, etc. Carpet is,… well, carpet. Soft, cushy, comfortable elastic floor covering – hmmm, think middleware maybe?
Now, if you are remodeling, you can theoretically put carpet on tile. And you get some level of softness or elasticity but it doesn’t come from the underlying tile – it comes from the carpet itself or any padding underneath it. This is like a cloud application on top of infrastructure that can scale. The degree of elasticity would be dependent on how much and soft the padding is. Think of an app like salesforce.com as carpet with a lot of padding on top of tiles consisting of hardware and off the shelf software. This is what I would call a cloud app.
Also (very) theoretically, you could put tile on carpet. We may be stretching this in the world of remodeling as few would actually do this, but what would the result be? It would resemble some kind of strong but perhaps brittle covering on top of something elastic and cushy. I wouldn’t want to try to have very heavy furniture on something like this. This is what you get if you take a standard app (be it say a database from an ISV or an internal enterprise app) and run it on an elastic infrastructure like Amazon EC2. This is what I would call an enterprise app running in the cloud (or on a private cloud). Much of what is on EC2 resembles this.
As you can see, the characteristics of these are very different. And there are lots of other kinds of permutations possible.
This analogy has gotten mixed reactions. Some say the light bulb goes on and they get it. Others, not so much. What do you think?
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