Earlier this week, I attended CCA11 at Argonne National Laboratory. I was there to present an extended abstract and take in what I could. I’ve never presented at a conference before (unless you count a short talk to kick off the Condor BoF at LISA ’10, which I don’t) and the subject of my abstract was work that we’ve only partially done, so I was a bit nervous. Fortunately, our work was well-received. It was encouraging enough that I might be talked into writing another paper at some point.
One thing I learned from the poster session and the invited talks is that the definition of “cloud” is just as ambiguous as ever. I continue to hate the term, although the field (however you define it) is doing interesting things. There’s a volunteer effort underway at NASA to use MapReduce to generate on-demand product visualization for disasters. An early prototype for Namibian flooding is at http://matsu.opencloudconsortium.org/.
Perhaps one of the largest concerns is the sheer volume of data. For example, the National Institutes of Health have over two petabytes of genomics data available, but how can you transfer that? Obviously, in most cases a user would only request a subset of data, but if there’s a use case that requires the whole data set, then what? One abstract presenter championed the use of sneakernet and argued that network bandwidth is the greatest challenge going forward.
One application that wasn’t mentioned is the cloud girlfriend. Maybe next year?
Thanks to Andy Howard and Preston Smith for their previous work and for helping me write the abstract.