BFI: Brute Force and Ignorance

BFI is an acronym which gets thrown around a bit and could stand for many things

Brute Force and Ignorance is one…but I’ve come up with a hopefully a new one which goes along with it, Big F**king Infrastructure. And this is my problem with Cloud at present; there seems to be a trend around at the moment that the point of Cloud is to build Big F**king Infrastructure.

Now as an infrastructure bod, I can appreciate this and indeed, the part of me which likes looking at big tanks, fighter jets, aircraft carriers etc; finds BFI cool! Who wouldn’t want to build the biggest, baddest data centre in the world?

But is it really the point of Cloud? And this is what concerns me! Cloud should not just be about building infrastructures, it certainly should not be about turning data centres into Building Blocks. Cloud needs to be more than that.

It needs to be about something more; it needs to be about changing development methodologies and tools. If we just use it to simply replicate at scale what we do today, I think that we have failed. It certainly needs to be more than packaging and provisioning. It needs to be about elegance and innovation.

I really don’t want Cloud to turn into something like Java; what do I mean? Don’t get me wrong, Java is great (and the JVM is greater) but how much Java written is simply C written in Java? Lots, believe me! I don’t believe that Java has changed development paradigms nearly as much as some people like to believe. A large amount of C++ code is also simply C written using some of the features of C++ but not the fundamental structural changes brought by C++. And so it goes on.

Cloud brings elasticity to infrastructure, applications need to be designed with this elasticity in mind. A database needs to be able to scale up on demand and then gracefully shrink back down again; perhaps it needs to be able to start additional instances of itself on different machines to meet a peak and then when the load falls away, it should remove those instances whilst maintaining transactional consistency and integrity.

Developers need to be able to design applications which wax and wane with demand. Yes we can fix a lot of these sort of issues at an infrastructure level but is that actually the right place to do it? We can fix a huge amount of problems with BFI but are we bringing sledgehammers to bear?

So Cloud needs to be more than BFI! And that is why I was glad to see this story here about VMware and Redis; like Zilla writes, I also know >.< NoSQL apart from a couple of presentations at Cloud Camp and what I’ve read on the Net. After sitting in presentations by VMWare employees where they seemed to be equating Virtualisation with Cloud; it is great to see that they are looking beyond that. Let’s hope it continues.

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Martin Glassborow

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