I have just left AWS re-invent and I wanted to give my brief thoughts on the future of cloud computing. I believe in the next few years the shift we have been witnessing will be completed. That is to say that the thousands of enterprises and small businesses alike will finish their migrations to public clouds, simply because the benefits are far too great. Less people, less hardware, less glue code, more functionality, more value etc. AWS will be the dominant public cloud for the next couple of years minimum due to their first to market advantage and If you look at the announcements at re-invent 2016, you see a series of products that solve common problems. In fact a lot of the “innovations” AWS announced today, replace many SaaS solutions who ironically (or maybe not so much) are hosted on AWS. None of this concerns me, this is great disruption. AWS is teaching these businesses to move even further up and away from creating tooling for DevOps as products (they will take care of that) and focus on products that provide value differently, like sifting through massive amounts of data, increasing the quality and providing intelligence from that data. This is all great, and it’s definitely where things are headed, kudos to Amazon for guiding folks.
BUT here is what is disturbing to me, and it’s seems like no one talks about it. It’s as if they can’t see the elephant in the room.
The elephant in the room is that every company in the world is converging on a fewer number/types of physical devices, paths, datacenters etc. This means the global failure domains that should be distributed in nature are actually becoming more centralized therefore the risk of massive security or availability (outage) events is higher.
If you really think about it, Cloud was always the return of Utility computing (mainframes) etc. and as we go down this journey it’s becoming more evident it’s simply a more distributed version of mainframe, and in my opinion, at the moment that is giving people a false sense of comfort.
Early in my career almost 20 years ago, I was working at an ISP, and one of the core services for the Internet (DNS) was directly attacked. There was of course a widespread failure and what we soon realized was the Internet had more of a shared fate than most believed.
Fast forward to present day, and it just happened again with Dyn who hosted DNS for some very critical companies. This problem hasn’t been solved, it is getting worse.
This is the same problem we are going to have with AWS, Google Cloud and Azure.
As companies & governments converge on datacenters, and those datacenters connect to common interconnected fabrics (aka the Internet itself) and resources.
The Internet is becoming far more grouped…far more shared & central…and thus the shared fate of the Internet will lie solely on the shoulders of giants or as we like to call them in our industry monoliths.
Public cloud monoliths, monopolies…etc
Perhaps my worries will be mitigated by fantastic diversification and investment in truly distributed, distinct network paths, independent power plants, etc…BUT my fear is the convergence is happening so fast, the providers won’t be able to make that a reality fast enough and what’s the incentive for them ? They have to invest a tremendous amount of capital when they are already successful and this problem has not publicly and visibly humiliated us yet. But I fear that it will in the next few years…
So Godspeed to journey men of the cloud, as we enjoy the luxuries that AWS, Azure, & Google Cloud offer us. We are entering a beautiful and dangerous time. Beware, and hedge your company & product by distributing it as much as you can to avoid these central dependencies. Avoid these massive shared, global failure domains and ensure you diversified to avoid increased security risk.