Welcome!

Government Cloud Authors: Elizabeth White, Pat Romanski, Roger Strukhoff, Liz McMillan, Gopala Krishna Behara

Related Topics: @CloudExpo, Containers Expo Blog

@CloudExpo: Article

The Transformation Toward Universal Utility Computing Is Beginning

When the cloud transforms into universal utility computing

Nick Davis's Blog

Cloud computing promises to change much of how we as developers, designers, and architects currently design and build web applications. For one, concurrency is big issue that need to be addressed if the apps of the next decade are going to scale on this cloud infrastructure.


One of the most popular themes in the last couple years on the web is the much-heralded “cloud computing”. Of course, the cloud metaphor is taken from the representation of the Internet in architecture diagrams as a big fluffy cloud to which other, more discrete networks and systems are interconnected. From the Wikipedia page, Cloud computing, defined, is:

a style of computing in which IT-related capabilities are provided “as a service”, allowing users to access technology-enabled services from the Internet (”in the cloud”) without knowledge of, expertise with, or control over the technology infrastructure that supports them.

Google popularized dynamic web-based applications that behaved much like desktop apps, and essentially ushered in the era of what we fondly (sometimes snidely) call “Web 2.0″. In the short span of 3 or 4 years (I’m counting since 2005, when the web community at large became aware of Ajax and similar technology), dynamic web applications have become the de facto UI for end-user interactive software offerings — if it makes sense to use the ubiquitous browser as the frontend, then why not? Instead of forcing users to install, configure, and learn yet another new desktop app, give them an interface with which they’re already comfortable and familiar. As an added benefit, the browser interface is supported on nearly every operating system and platform used today (proprietary plugins and extensions notwithstanding).

Since then, the “cloud” has been touted as the next generation of the web, and as a concept encompasses a few key areas:

  • storage - collect user settings/preferences, documents and media
  • computing cycles - harness the power of a thousand-node grid of servers for complex problems or CPU-intensive workloads
  • network transparency - mask low-level details such as IP addresses and other info as much as possible

Who’s Who and Challenges

Large vendors with existing market plays involving huge server farms and data centers are eagerly jumping on the bandwagon — like IBM, Google, Amazon, Sun, etc. Software vendors are touting their existing and upcoming apps as “cloud” initiatives. The previously mentioned firms, as well as Salesforce, Zimbra (now owned by Yahoo), Zoho, and a multitude of other startups are all rushing to lay claim to a piece of land in the Cloud Gold Rush. Even Microsoft, notoriously late to the web party, instead relying on its stalwart cash cows of Windows and Office, has made its own bid in the cloud wars with Mesh and announcements of a web version of Office.

Cloud computing promises to change much of how we as developers, designers, and architects currently design and build web applications. For one, concurrency is big issue that need to be addressed if the apps of the next decade are going to scale on this cloud infrastructure. Languages, platforms, and tools need to provide solutions for creating apps that scale efficiently on multiple cores, processors, and even systems. Architects will have to design solutions that are massively scalable and take advantage of the properties of the cloud. UI specialists and designers will work with browser-based frontends, as well as newer mobile phone interfaces and Internet-enabled devices (such as Nokia’s Maemo Internet tablet).

Beyond the Cloud

I envision a future beyond the current cloud computing craze, perhaps in 5 - 10 years, where computing is a utility service just like power and telephone service are today. Several companies, including Amazon and Sun, are already offering some utility-style services, and many distributed computing projects tackling specific problems run on volunteer end-user systems today, but I’m thinking of something much broader. Instead of vendor-specific mini-clouds or utility services, we should aim for what I’ll term universal utility computing (UUC), built on open protocols and standards.

Essentially, the idea is to ensure every node in the cloud is an active member. By “active”, I mean the resources of every device are available for use by others. Computing cycles can be used (when idle, or up to a certain configurable threshold percentage of total CPU), storage, etc. It’s similar in nature to a grid and distributed computing, but utilizing a general, Internet-wide approach.

So how would such a system work? For starters, a UUC protocol would be required, and agent software written for various operating systems. The protocol would specify the sequence of communication between nodes, allowing true peer-to-peer messaging. The agent would ideally sit in the kernel space, interacting with the built-in scheduler, hardware abstraction layer, and storage subsystem.

Once a device has been “UUC-enabled”, it could begin to participate in the utility cloud. Every system in the cloud would share its resources for utility computing. Applications would then have the ability to harness as much computing power as required. Nodes that didn’t participate in the utility cloud couldn’t take advantage of utility resources.

Imagine all mobile phones on Earth utilizing a small portion of their resources in protein folding computations, or all servers processing climate forecasting data, or molecular level interactions for medical applications. Internet-enabled gaming consoles, tablets, laptops, desktops, and a plethora of devices that may be idle 90% of the time can now be used for computation. Imagine if the machines available to the average botnet hacker could be used for helpful purposes instead of spam.

Naturally, there are several challenges that must be overcome. Security and privacy, as today, would have to be addressed, employing encryption and other techniques to ensure confidentiality and integrity. Outside of individual nodes, there must be built-in mechanisms for preventing DDOS-style attacks, as well as preventing malicious users from exhausting the available utility-dedicated resources on one or several devices. There must also be a system used to prioritize workloads sent to the cloud, and a way to adjust the priority of a task. Checks and balances could be automatic, ensuring that a particular workload doesn’t use more than pre-determined slice of the available resources for a system.

Universal utility computing could be the next phase of computing, one where the Internet is a true peer-to-peer system, and all nodes participate and share resources. Instead of having expensive data centers with custom hardware and software solutions, billions of devices with idle processors can be harnessed to help solve a variety of problems affecting the enterprise, health care, the scientific community, and others.


[This post appeared originally here and is reprinted by kind permission of the author, who retains full copyright.]

More Stories By Nick Davis

Nick Davis is an information security professional (CISSP) and software architect with several years of academic and professional experience. He earned an M.S. and B.S. in Computer Science from the University of Tulsa. Previously, hr was Founding Software Developer for Vidoop, an Internet security and identity company that provides some useful solutions for managing one’s identity on the web. While at Vidoop he was co-inventor of the company’s flagship patent-pending authentication technology, the ImageShield.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


@ThingsExpo Stories
Recently, WebRTC has a lot of eyes from market. The use cases of WebRTC are expanding - video chat, online education, online health care etc. Not only for human-to-human communication, but also IoT use cases such as machine to human use cases can be seen recently. One of the typical use-case is remote camera monitoring. With WebRTC, people can have interoperability and flexibility for deploying monitoring service. However, the benefit of WebRTC for IoT is not only its convenience and interopera...
With tough new regulations coming to Europe on data privacy in May 2018, Calligo will explain why in reality the effect is global and transforms how you consider critical data. EU GDPR fundamentally rewrites the rules for cloud, Big Data and IoT. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Adam Ryan, Vice President and General Manager EMEA at Calligo, examined the regulations and provided insight on how it affects technology, challenges the established rules and will usher in new levels of diligence arou...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Evatronix will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Evatronix SA offers comprehensive solutions in the design and implementation of electronic systems, in CAD / CAM deployment, and also is a designer and manufacturer of advanced 3D scanners for professional applications.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Synametrics Technologies will exhibit at SYS-CON's 22nd International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. Synametrics Technologies is a privately held company based in Plainsboro, New Jersey that has been providing solutions for the developer community since 1997. Based on the success of its initial product offerings such as WinSQL, Xeams, SynaMan and Syncrify, Synametrics continues to create and hone inn...
To get the most out of their data, successful companies are not focusing on queries and data lakes, they are actively integrating analytics into their operations with a data-first application development approach. Real-time adjustments to improve revenues, reduce costs, or mitigate risk rely on applications that minimize latency on a variety of data sources. In his session at @BigDataExpo, Jack Norris, Senior Vice President, Data and Applications at MapR Technologies, reviewed best practices to ...
The 22nd International Cloud Expo | 1st DXWorld Expo has announced that its Call for Papers is open. Cloud Expo | DXWorld Expo, to be held June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York, NY, brings together Cloud Computing, Digital Transformation, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps, Machine Learning and WebRTC to one location. With cloud computing driving a higher percentage of enterprise IT budgets every year, it becomes increasingly important to plant your flag in this fast-expanding busin...
Smart cities have the potential to change our lives at so many levels for citizens: less pollution, reduced parking obstacles, better health, education and more energy savings. Real-time data streaming and the Internet of Things (IoT) possess the power to turn this vision into a reality. However, most organizations today are building their data infrastructure to focus solely on addressing immediate business needs vs. a platform capable of quickly adapting emerging technologies to address future ...
No hype cycles or predictions of a gazillion things here. IoT is here. You get it. You know your business and have great ideas for a business transformation strategy. What comes next? Time to make it happen. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jay Mason, an Associate Partner of Analytics, IoT & Cybersecurity at M&S Consulting, presented a step-by-step plan to develop your technology implementation strategy. He also discussed the evaluation of communication standards and IoT messaging protocols, data...
Product connectivity goes hand and hand these days with increased use of personal data. New IoT devices are becoming more personalized than ever before. In his session at 22nd Cloud Expo | DXWorld Expo, Nicolas Fierro, CEO of MIMIR Blockchain Solutions, will discuss how in order to protect your data and privacy, IoT applications need to embrace Blockchain technology for a new level of product security never before seen - or needed.
In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Raju Shreewastava, founder of Big Data Trunk, provided a fun and simple way to introduce Machine Leaning to anyone and everyone. He solved a machine learning problem and demonstrated an easy way to be able to do machine learning without even coding. Raju Shreewastava is the founder of Big Data Trunk (www.BigDataTrunk.com), a Big Data Training and consulting firm with offices in the United States. He previously led the data warehouse/business intelligence and B...
A strange thing is happening along the way to the Internet of Things, namely far too many devices to work with and manage. It has become clear that we'll need much higher efficiency user experiences that can allow us to more easily and scalably work with the thousands of devices that will soon be in each of our lives. Enter the conversational interface revolution, combining bots we can literally talk with, gesture to, and even direct with our thoughts, with embedded artificial intelligence, whic...
Cloud Expo | DXWorld Expo have announced the conference tracks for Cloud Expo 2018. Cloud Expo will be held June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York City, and November 6-8, 2018, at the Santa Clara Convention Center, Santa Clara, CA. Digital Transformation (DX) is a major focus with the introduction of DX Expo within the program. Successful transformation requires a laser focus on being data-driven and on using all the tools available that enable transformation if they plan to survive ov...
"Evatronix provides design services to companies that need to integrate the IoT technology in their products but they don't necessarily have the expertise, knowledge and design team to do so," explained Adam Morawiec, VP of Business Development at Evatronix, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Recently, REAN Cloud built a digital concierge for a North Carolina hospital that had observed that most patient call button questions were repetitive. In addition, the paper-based process used to measure patient health metrics was laborious, not in real-time and sometimes error-prone. In their session at 21st Cloud Expo, Sean Finnerty, Executive Director, Practice Lead, Health Care & Life Science at REAN Cloud, and Dr. S.P.T. Krishnan, Principal Architect at REAN Cloud, discussed how they built...
Digital Transformation (DX) is not a "one-size-fits all" strategy. Each organization needs to develop its own unique, long-term DX plan. It must do so by realizing that we now live in a data-driven age, and that technologies such as Cloud Computing, Big Data, the IoT, Cognitive Computing, and Blockchain are only tools. In her general session at 21st Cloud Expo, Rebecca Wanta explained how the strategy must focus on DX and include a commitment from top management to create great IT jobs, monitor ...
"Digital transformation - what we knew about it in the past has been redefined. Automation is going to play such a huge role in that because the culture, the technology, and the business operations are being shifted now," stated Brian Boeggeman, VP of Alliances & Partnerships at Ayehu, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
In his Opening Keynote at 21st Cloud Expo, John Considine, General Manager of IBM Cloud Infrastructure, led attendees through the exciting evolution of the cloud. He looked at this major disruption from the perspective of technology, business models, and what this means for enterprises of all sizes. John Considine is General Manager of Cloud Infrastructure Services at IBM. In that role he is responsible for leading IBM’s public cloud infrastructure including strategy, development, and offering m...
Nordstrom is transforming the way that they do business and the cloud is the key to enabling speed and hyper personalized customer experiences. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Ken Schow, VP of Engineering at Nordstrom, discussed some of the key learnings and common pitfalls of large enterprises moving to the cloud. This includes strategies around choosing a cloud provider(s), architecture, and lessons learned. In addition, he covered some of the best practices for structured team migration an...
22nd International Cloud Expo, taking place June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and co-located with the 1st DXWorld Expo will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. Cloud computing is now being embraced by a majority of enterprises of all sizes. Yesterday's debate about public vs. private has transformed into the reality of hybrid cloud: a recent survey shows that 74% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud ...
22nd International Cloud Expo, taking place June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and co-located with the 1st DXWorld Expo will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. Cloud computing is now being embraced by a majority of enterprises of all sizes. Yesterday's debate about public vs. private has transformed into the reality of hybrid cloud: a recent survey shows that 74% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud ...