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October 20, 2008

Building in the cloud

Via @timoreilly on Twitter, I note that George Reese has written a short piece about developing cloud applications, Considerations in Building Web Applications for the Amazon Cloud, his four areas of consideration being licensing, persistence, horizontal scalability and disaster recovery. 

The licensing one caught my eye because it wasn't what I was expecting based on the concerns about cloud computing that I've heard raised at educational events in the recent past.

Reese's point about licensing is that if you've built an application running on hardware you own, using licensed software for which the cost is based on numbers of CPUs, and you try to move it into the cloud then you may be in for a shock because the answer to the question, "how many CPUs is my application now running on?" is non-trivial to answer.  On that basis, open source solutions may get a "shot in the arm" from any kind of mass movement into the cloud (as noted by Tim Bray at FOWA in London recently).

On the other hand, in education, the licensing issues I hear raised most frequently around cloud computing have to do with the terms and conditions under which you are storing material in the cloud and whether there are IPR, privacy/data protection and data recovery considerations that need to be taken into account.

Both concerns are valid of course.  I guess these different perspectives come from a developer-centric vs. a policy maker-centric view of the world.

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