Cloud Computing (ft. Babak Falsafi)
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Cloud Computing (ft. Babak Falsafi)

the Internet has greatly affected the way we live and do business one recent change that seems to be taking over the world is cloud computing. Let’s discuss it with Babak Falsafi a full professor of the IC School at EPFL we’ve experienced a paradigm shift in computing, where what used to be is industries from startups all the way to large enterprises, they would buy servers they would buy software and they would host their own entire IT department and some of the big organizations like banks, insurance companies, hospitals and large pharma, food companies like Nestle they have large IT organizations that are a big partner budget that’s something that’s key to their business however many companies are now transitioning from hosting their data and computations, on their own servers to purchasing the remarkably cheap services of so-called cloud computing providers because the cost of computing was going down more and more companies will have to try to go to the larger cloud providers may be public clouds or somehow live with public clouds even if they have their own private clouds but why did cloud computing get so much cheaper than computing with your own desktop computer? First of all on the silicon side, silicon platforms have hit a grand challenge in efficiency that is a phenomenon which is referred to historically as Moore’s Law where we made silicon denser and denser every two years we took advantage of that there were companies out there building products and you would use this proliferation of products to improve your IT departments. Moving forward silicon’s hitting some grand challenges or some physical challenges transistors getting small to the point where they don’t operate as efficiently anymore as they used to. To improve the performance of your platform you have to centralize now centralization started with IT departments in companies and organizations, but now it’s getting to the point where data centers these central facilities are tens of megawatts they’re several tens times 20 times, 25 times the size of a football field. Their size is so large that they’re basically limited by where they can actually host and build the infrastructure you have to be close to probably a source of electricity of the order of tens of megawatts you have to be close to water for cooling and you have to have the capability of bringing network connectivity to your data center because these centralized facilities are really large now they cost in the order of several billions of dollars to build them there are only a few players out there that can do this and then sort of moving forward, the cost of computing is going to go so low because of the centralization,
that companies starting with startups today certainly in the past 5 – 8 years and then moving forward even larger enterprise that they can’t host their own data they have to try to use services that are provided by these global companies this phenomenon is broadly referred to as cloud computing, where you have ubiquitous service, you have access your data but it’s basically provided by a cloud provider which hosts these facilities and it seems that company will be hosting more and more their data and computations in a huge and highly efficient data centers provided by cloud computing providers this has led to the construction of these huge nodes of the Internet that now centralized most of our computations these monuments of computation are the technological marvels of our days, but they come at a price namely, they consume huge amounts of energy to power the information age. In fact, the typical energy consumption of a modern data center could be something that would be hosted next to a power plant it could be the electricity consumption of smaller communities but perhaps what’s most worrisome is that their energy consumption is increasing at a rate that’s not sustainable now we’re certainly limited in how big we can make these facilities, so we will have to spread them and have multiple facilities it’s not just an issue of electricity it’s also the proximity to cooling and also how much network we can bring to the site, and as you can imagine designing these huge data centers poses many technological changes and perhaps the greatest of them all is security this is the technological challenge from on the one hand finding ways in which you can move data securely and trust services, and make sure that you have a secure environment for multiple providers to coexist, on the one hand and then standardization and certification of technologies to so that you can actually make a statement about the security of the technology you’re using but also from a legal framework standpoint finding ways in which one could enforce privacy and legal aspects of information technology could be becoming a lot more important as enterprises and individuals alike no longer host their own data and the data will be hosted by other services these are the kinds of things that we need to think about and work on as often with security, one of the major steps would be a standardization of what we mean by security or privacy unfortunately we’re far from that on the technology side we can actually move forward pretty fast, and a lot of cloud providers actually in countries like US where data boundaries are basically the boundaries of the country of the large country, organizations like insurance companies, are already moving to the cloud, and for countries in Europe especially Switzerland being a smaller country and being in an environment where data boundaries are much much tighter this is a bigger problem from a legal perspective less of a problem from a technological perspective but those two problems need to be solved hand-in-hand now you have a better option cloud computing with cloud computing you have access to computing power instantly when you need it. EcoCloud was started about four or five years ago it’s a group of faculty at EPFL working on large-scale IT services

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