Cloud set for promising future: Vint Cerf

Google vice president and chief internet evangelist, Vint Cerf today delivered the keynote address to open sourcers at Linux.conf.au 2011 in Brisbane, saying that the cloud is on the verge of becoming as big as the concept of the internet itself.
Written by Luke Hopewell, Contributor

Google vice president and chief internet evangelist Vint Cerf today delivered the keynote address to open source enthusiasts at Linux.conf.au 2011 in Brisbane, saying that cloud computing is on the verge of becoming as big a concept as the internet itself.

Vint Cerf

Vint Cerf (Vint Cerf image, by Joi Ito, CC2.0)

"I feel we are at the state in the cloud world now that we were in the internet world back in 1973," Cerf said.

The Google VP and evangelist also said, however, that a lack of interconnected standards for cloud computing was holding it back.

"We have many different cloud implementations for different sources. Whether it's Amazon or Google or Microsoft or IBM and so on, they aren't built the same way, they don't have all the same functionality," he said, adding that there aren't any standards for getting different to talk to each other in a co-operative way like the internet does.

He said that a standard cloud language should be drawn up to enable this cross-cloud collaboration.

"None of the vocabulary which has grown up around the internet for this remote peer-to-peer interaction has been developed for clouds yet. If you're looking for a dissertation topic, this is one of them! This exploration of how to get clouds to interact with each other."

Cerf, considered one of the fathers of the internet, said that cloud was unlike the internet in that it was one grand collaboration, adding that the notion of interconnection is just as important as it was in the days of the early design.

Faults of our fathers

While delivering his keynote address, Cerf openly admitted the mistakes he and his colleagues made in the design of early internet infrastructure, including a frank admission that he thought the design of IPv4 left enough addresses for the whole internet.

Cerf said that the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers and the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority were likely to run out of addresses by early February, with regional internet registries set to feel the pinch by 2012.

"The time for just talking about [IPv6] is over. We need to now just get down and busy with implementing it," Cerf said.

Cerf also said that one of the biggest challenges for the future of the internet will be solving the problem of mobility.

"There are probably something like a billion, a billion and a half more devices that are connected at one time on the net and something on the order of two billion users, which is kind of small considering there's about seven billion people on the planet," he said. Cerf joked that he and his team could be forgiven for designing TCP/IP in the way they did in 1977, because back then, computers couldn't be moved around with the user.

"Back then they were all [giant] and needed air conditioning and cables all over everywhere," Cerf joked.

"As we [now] move around and our computing goes with us, the way we use the internet has changed," he said, adding that traditional TCP/IP and phone number tracking standards were no longer valid in the new mobile space.

Linux.conf.au runs until Friday with hundreds of delegates from all over the world in attendance.

Other keynote speakers include Mark Pesce, Eric Allman and Geoff Huston.

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