Location Independent Cloud Services

When I am struggling with jet lag, I often spend the night hours up and working. It is advantageous because my colleagues in the U.S. are up and working as well. The payback comes in the afternoon. The lack of sleep sinks in around that time. In any event, today I was watching a TV program on cloud computing. The program was facilitated by Prof. Jun Murai, who has been involved in Internet efforts for a long time. He is probably the only well-known researcher from Japan in the Internet Society. He belongs to several highly influential groups that are related to the Internet in the world.

Even though this program is not widely popular, it is interesting to see a TV program on cloud computing for mass consumption. The interest in cloud is very high here in Japan, but so far there has been no real implementation of cloud computing. The Japanese government has a plan, known as Kasumigaseki Cloud, to implement cloud computing for its administration. I have not heard its real use yet. The private sector story is very similar. At the end of last year, Amazon Web Services landed in Japan and started providing its cloud platform.

When a Japanese company wants to use cloud services, it tends to go to one in the U.S. Prof. Murai’s TV program gave an example of this. Fourteen people in an architect’s office are using cloud services across the Pacific Ocean. Their applications are mostly for data archiving and sharing without mission-critical, real-time applications.

When I access web servers and other services in the U.S. from Japan, unless the application is very delay sensitive, it is quite usable. The wider bandwidth of broadband here may have an impact. The bandwidth is probably 10 times or more in Japan than it is for a typical service in the U.S.

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Mining the Cloud to Ease the Enterprise Compliance Burden
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Up to this point, the story is great. Since this is a blog on energy efficiency, I need to pose a question like this. If Japan is using cloud services in the U.S. because of their availability, usability (fast enough to access), and cost (Japanese equivalents of any U.S. IT equipment and services are usually more expensive), what about the traffic across the Pacific Ocean (apart from security and national interests)? Remember Brian Lillie’s keynote address at the recent AFCOM Data Center World. Equinix’s CIO had an interesting slide (see below).

Internet traffic grew tremendously from 1997 to 2007, as the slide shows. If many countries from Asia and Europe utilize cloud services in the U.S., the traffic will increase further. This is probably good for the U.S. economy, but is it green? In order to sustain such an amount of traffic, the cables placed at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean need to be strengthened and expanded. That will take ships and other resources. That will probably put some pollutants into the ocean. On the other hand, this may cut business trips over the Pacific and Atlantic oceans. It is very hard to say whether IT is helping the Earth or polluting the Earth. It is necessary to have a balanced discussion on the merits of IT and cloud computing rather than an emotional discussion without logic.

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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