25 April 2011

He Ain't Superman

Back in the early days of java and the time of the dotcom bust, George Reese was a minor pundit/author (O'Reilly division) in the database part of the world.  You can look up his stuff at O'Reilly or Amazon.  Not much heard from since then.  He would occasionally show up on the O'Reilly site.  And he has again.

Here's his take on the Amazon fiasco.  What's so intriguing about this missive is the Up is Down meme involved here.  The Cloud meme has been promoted as a less: expensive, time, resource, attention answer to the Data Processing Problem, particularly for web sites.  Reese spends his few thousand words telling us that the SLA is *our* responsibility, not Amazon's.  Ditto for infrastructure design.  Ditto for physical design.  Ditto for just about everything.  Well, you're not allowed RDBMS, but you didn't want that anyway, did you?

He spends all that ink telling us that we have to work around the fragility of Cloud provision, in order to utilize Cloud.  And we can't do databases, because, well, Cloud just isn't quite up to that.  Where, exactly, is the win for clients who care about their data?  He admits that such services won't provision such that there is sufficient excess capacity to support the loss of significant resources.  Kind of like what might happen if you ran your own datacenter, only worse. 

What's most annoying about his missive is that he makes, nearly explicitly, the assertion that the storage method, Cloud, determines the nature of the datastore.  Not only can you not have SSDs as primary store for a BCNF databases, you can't even have *any* sort of RDBMS if you use Cloud.  Last time I checked, that's the tail wagging the dog.  But knuckleheads who admire the Emperor's New Clothes typically ignore such conflicts.

Oh, and you really should go read the piece.  The commenters have a field day with his silliness.  Yum.

In my haste to get this in words, I neglected to explicitly state the objection to Cloud I (and others) hold:  the value proposition for Cloud is that it enables organizations (even just the IT group on its own) to out source an unwanted responsibility at lower cost; don't do it yourself and save money.  Reese's treatise, and the failure, deny the existence of that proposition.  This, while I gather he doesn't get it, is kind of a Big Deal.

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