The all-in cloud architecture of tomorrow

I plan to practice what we preach in 2013 and move to an all-in-cloud architecture. It's a tall order

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It seems clear that most operational systems will use a document database like Couchbase 2.0 or MongoDB. There will be more room for utility databases like graph database Neo4j for specific purposes, but they probably won't be your primary data store. It also seems clear that on the analytical side, MapReduce frameworks like Hadoop may still be waiting for a killer product to break away from the pack.

Your network
In our all-in cloud architecture of the future, what you don't have is as important as what you do have. You don't have company-installed and company-supported desktop applications. You don't have file servers (because SaaS applications take the place of them), and you don't have Windows networking infrastructure. Beyond the basic switches and routers, as well as whatever you need to get people to the Internet, your network is naked.

Your people
This move could send highly qualified system administrators to work as baristas -- or worse, at the Genius Bar. There is as much of a labor consolidation here as a hardware and software consolidation. This move is about our industry turning on itself and providing productivity gains (read: people get furloughed and the rest do more work). Someone still has to figure out why the dang wireless router keeps skipping out, but beyond that the skills of the IT administrator will change.

The all-in cloud architecture has lots of moving parts, particularly the portals that get your data or your users between the clouds. Your skilled administrators will speak a language of configuration based on SAML, Oauth, and autoscale. They'll know enough about the database to be dangerous and diagnose problems, but to some degree the rise of the cloud-deployed NoSQL and big data means that DBAs will be brought back kicking and screaming from their graves. That DBA may resist the already decade-long move away from PL/SQL stored procedures, but the rise of NoSQL and big data may actually revive a position that has long been in decline.

The costs
The all-in cloud architecture will reduce our level of control. In some way that is the point; in other ways it will be frustrating. It also requires high-bandwidth, more reliable networks to work. This will increase the digital divide not only among people but among companies. Outages will be more catastrophic when they happen and affect more companies at once. These will make headlines, but overall, reliability will be higher. It will be like when a jetliner goes down: It makes the national news, whereas thousands of fatal car wrecks don't. There will also be bad actors in the cloud space, thieves who convince you to migrate, jack up the price, and never let you leave. Freedom to exit will become the most important freedom, if it isn't already.

The benefits
The all-in architecture will be cheaper and more reliable. It will scale better, offer high availability, and require less maintenance. On the whole this will represent economic consolidation in the tech industry. Hardware manufacturers won't have a good time of it, but everything else will be more efficient. That might sound bad for the tech industry, but just like energy efficiency doesn't help the environment though it increases the demand for energy, efficiency in the tech sector will increase demand for technology.

What we don't know yet
As I mentioned in a previous post, we still don't have a standardized service directory. We also lack an Active Directory killer. Sure, there are several players, but there are no clear winners yet.

We also don't know when and how long this transition to the cloud will take -- it just feels like we are approaching a tipping point, living in a moment before everything changes. In 2013, I plan to go all in. Care to join me?

This article, "The all-in cloud architecture of tomorrow," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Read more of Andrew C. Oliver's Strategic Developer blog, and keep up on the latest developments in application development at InfoWorld.com For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.

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