InterCloud vs. Internet: What’s Missing in Cloud Computing?

As more and more clouds go live, it’s time to think about how they will need to interconnect and interact. InterCloud is a new terminology coined for cloud computing after Internet for networking.

Vint Cerf, the “father” of the Internet, said recently that the cloud is much like networking in 1973 when computer networks couldn’t connect or interact. He called for open standards for cloud computing so that InterCloud can become a reality.

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It’s hard to design standards when people are still trying to reach a consensus on defining what a cloud is in the first place! The good news is that as an industry we went through a similar process for the Internet. So we can learn from that experience.

The idea is simple: look at basic building blocks we have for the Internet and think about their equivalent for the InterCloud. Believe it or not, InterCloud and Internet share many common characteristics. The following table summarizes some of these.

  Networking Cloud Computing
Content Data Computing workload
Cornerstone Ethernet Virtualization
Format ASN.1 OVF + ?
End point Host Hypervisor
Protocols OSI, TCP/IP, etc. ?
Directory service DNS ?
ID IP address/host name ?
Resource locator URI/URL ?
Interconnectivity Internet InterCloud
Killer use cases Email, Web System provisioning, Dynamic scaling

Let me emphasize the key difference between the Internet and the Intercloud —the Internet moves data and the InterCloud moves computing workloads. With virtualization and other high level virtual machine technology, computing workload is essentially data. Viewed in this fashion, that would mean the InterCloud can leverage the Internet as a high level application.

As you see from the table above, there remain many question marks where we do not yet have InterCloud equivalents to the Internet. That is something we need to think about and work on moving forward.

Let me know what you think. Do you have suggestions for equivalents?

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  1. Posted August 19, 2010 at 9:32 am | Permalink

    Hi Steve,
    Federation is a key starting point and required building block for the Intercloud to emerge. An Intercloud standard must carry a huge amount of detail and context to be functional as you point out – not only large amounts of data, but virtualization parameters, storage configuration, network structure, application dependencies (like ordering), performance specifications, SLA, Sercurity, and perhaps much more. For cloud providers to adopt an Intercloud standard, they need to agree on a large set of configurations and technologies. This will take some time. Today, customers and cloud providers can get going immediately by federating across internal and external cloud environments to run workloads how and where they want. As discussed in a blog post earlier this year, a significant part of the Intercloud vision can be achieved with a strong federation technology that provides a gateway between different clouds and the internal data center:
    Regards, Ellen

  2. Posted May 3, 2013 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

    InterCloud vs. Internet: What’s Missing in Cloud Computing? –

  3. Posted September 2, 2015 at 3:55 am | Permalink

    As you were for me one of the most VMware oriented tech peonrss this wind of change sounds interesting. Did you consider KVM and Openstack for the switch ? Did you think OpenStack could stand against vSphere what you think will be the advantages ?

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