An Indispensable Element to Cloud Computing

I had an opportunity to meet with Victoria Livschitz, CEO of Grid Dynamics.

When I do research on the cloud computing space, I see a lot of cloud computing providers. However, I think you cannot use the services without some expertise. Livschitz was OK with my saying that Grid Dynamics is a system integrator in the cloud space. When cloud services are discussed, we tend to talk about SaaS (software as a service), PaaS (platform as a service), and IaaS (infrastructure as a service), assuming that if we have those services, we have enough expertise to put together a set of layers (a combination of hardware and software) on top of those three types.

In reality, some system integration is required with those infrastructures. That is where Grid Dynamics comes in. Livschitz came from Sun Microsystems and was the principle architect of Sun’s grid system. That is why the company was named Grid Dynamics. It was founded in 2006 and has about 230 employees (most of them are engineers). Their customers are tier-1 and work on their core systems. I asked her why I did not hear of Grid Dynamics until very recently. She replied that they were not attempting too much publicity but focusing on securing core customers and establishing their foothold.

Although I think my readers know the difference between grid and cloud computing, Livschitz’s explanation was very simple. In grid computing, the majority of applications are scientific mathematical computing, which has a clear beginning and end. It is well known that mathematical computation can be decomposed into many smaller computational units. Those computational units can be distributed among many smaller computation engines. In contrast, general computation does not have a clear beginning or a clear end.

How about the market for cloud computing? Livschitz sees two types of customers, the Global 5,000 and the small and medium-size business (SMB). She says that many of the Global 5,000 companies are trying to see how they can exploit cloud computing. SMBs can exploit the non requirement of hardware/software and network bandwidth. Grid Dynamics has three types of customers: end users, private cloud providers, and public cloud providers. In addition, Grid Dynamics’ main partners are Microsoft and Oracle.

Further, I asked about security, which for cloud computing covers a large territory that includes secrecy of data (encryption) and controlling access (authentication). Depending on the vertical market (such as the medical field), regulations may require pinpointing the exact location of the data, which sometimes is hard to do because data can be anywhere in the cloud.

One specific question I had was how to manage IDs. When you have 1,000 users for some cloud services, you need to manage their IDs. Those IDs may be tied to enterprise-level IDs, such as for salary and cafeteria payment. Imposing certain standards makes ID management much easier. Livschitz thinks OpenID is promising, although it is not yet the de facto standard.

As for the future of cloud computing vendors, Livschitz thinks there are going to be many cloud providers of many sizes and many different concentrations. Some smaller data center providers may make their unused capacity available for other cloud computer providers. And cloud computing platforms may take various forms depending on their vertical market, such as retail, financial, and HPC.

Livschitz thinks cloud is the future of computing. In answer to my question about combined services (consisting of telephone, Internet, gas, electricity, and water), she said she does not think telecom companies will merge with power companies anytime soon, but they may over time.

Zen Kishimoto

About Zen Kishimoto

Seasoned research and technology executive with various functional expertise, including roles in analyst, writer, CTO, VP Engineering, general management, sales, and marketing in diverse high-tech and cleantech industry segments, including software, mobile embedded systems, Web technologies, and networking. Current focus and expertise are in the area of the IT application to energy, such as smart grid, green IT, building/data center energy efficiency, and cloud computing.

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