After vCampus Live! I haven't been that active on vCampus. Were doing some pretty exciting projects here at Atos, but that keeps me away from being as active on vCampus as I sometimes would like to be. In the mean time, a lot has happened. There are some pretty good discussions going on about Silverlight vs HTML5, the envisioning of an 3rd party appstore, and off course Cloud computing and PI.
The last one, is the one I would like to talk about. Ahmad asked us:
"As the community on the cutting edge of PI development and integration, what do you think of offering PI as a service in the Cloud? What are the potential opportunities? How about the challenges? What would it take to win the trust of customers to let someone else host their PI System? How would you envision the interaction between the PI System and data sources in the plants? Would it provide a good opportunity for our partners? Share your ideas with us."
These are all pretty good and challenging questions. Specially, the first two questions. What are the opportunities, and what are the challenges? These questions cannot be answered quickly. But, it really provides the opportunity for some good and deep thinking.
The 3rd question: "What would it take to win the trust of customers to let someone else host their PI System?" is another very interesting one, but not as interesting as the first two questions. I would like to say, that this question is interesting, but totally irrelevant.
But, this is the question that everyone is trying to answer. The overall consensus seems to be that (existing) PI costumers would in no way allow their data to be stored in ‘the cloud', and therefore, that cloud computing and PI is not a viable option. Let's assume for now, that our traditional customers are not in any way interested in hosting their PI data in the cloud.
With establishing this assumption, let us look back at the primary (and most important question): "What are the potential opportunities?"
"What are potential opportunities of cloud computing", and "No way I'm going to host my data off-premise". This is not mutually exclusive. It's very thought provoking though, and allows for creative ‘potential opportunities'.
Wikipedia offers the following definition to cloud computing:
This in itself contains the answer to question number one. Sharing information and software. This opens up the new opportunities: offering time series data storage and calculations as a service for the internet.
This is a paradigm fork for us, which is not excluding the ‘traditional' usage of the PI system. Cloud computing in itself is a paradigm shift, so we have to shift paradigm to see the opportunities! One paradigm will support the other.
Let's envision some potential opportunities:
- Offering a public ‘on demand' service to web applications or application servers to store logging information and time series information, run calculations, and provide visualization for them. Things like number of hits, Performance Information, database usages, etc. These figures will become more and more important in the ‘on demand world', to become or remain sustainable.
- Offering domain specific time series storage and calculations, stuff like GPS locations. Think about storing GPS locations (time stamped) for car rental/lease companies, transport companies, UPS, etc.
- Offering the ability to share, compare and publish data. Sustainability and environmental data, weather information, traffic information, etc. There is an ongoing demand for open-governments and companies. Why not use technologies like Web services and OData to give companies and governments the opportunity to publish this information. Give client applications the possibility to combine and join information from different sources.
- Offer the ability to run complex and ‘on the fly' calculations that take a lot of resources
- Etc. etc. etc.
The basis of my thought process are that cloud computing is a paradigm shift in itself. We are trying to fit in using our ‘old ways'. We have to shift paradigm ourselves to be able to fully appreciate the opportunities of Cloud Computing. We must not see Cloud Computing as this big threatening thing that we don't fully understand, we have to embrace it for what it is, and see the opportunities that it offers.
We are the Empire, the internet and Cloud Computing are the Rebels. We are used to tight contracts, procedures and safety and we are bound by that. The internet and cloud computing is free, anarchy like and not bound to rules. We have to become Rebels to fully appreciate the possibilities, and become entrepreneurs in this new environment.
If we want in, we have to play by the rules of the Internet.
Disclaimer: This article is meant to be thought provoking, and in no way discredit or disrespect anyone's opinion