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Vint Cerf: Today's cloud is like 1973 networks

At Google Atmosphere, the innovator team tackled net neutrality, HTML5, ultra high speed networks and private clouds, among other topics.
Written by Sam Diaz, Inactive on

On a panel at the Google Atmosphere event, Google's team of innovators was on the hot seat, fielding questions about the cloud, Google and changes to the tech industry.

Among them was Vint Cerf, Google's Chief Internet Evangelist, who noted that the cloud in 2010 is much like networks in 1973. The issue came up as Cerf was asked about the differences between the public cloud and private clouds. The short answer is that there can be both, just as there's is an Internet and, within companies, there are intranet, or private Internet.

But beyond that, the bigger question today is how to move between different clouds. Back in the 1970s, he said, companies had their own networks but there was no compatibility and no interoperability. The internet solved that problem by connecting the networks themselves.

The data in the cloud is protected and access-controlled, Cerf said. If users want to move data, how do they move the metadata along with it. There are a number of different organizations pursuing this, he said, calling it a rich area for exploration.

Cerf also spoke about Net Neutrality and suggested that a recent ruling by a federal appeals court about a Comcast case may force the FCC to rethink how it classifies Web services. He suggested that the FCC could label some services as communications tools that do fall under the commission's regulatory power. But just putting it under that old telecom umbrella isn't the solution, either. The agency will need to look at these services to see how they fit so that companies like Google - in their role as providing online tools to consumers - has the uninterrupted ability to deliver those services to consumers.

Joining Cerf on the panel was Alan Eustace, SVP of Engineering and Research, and Jeff Huber, SVP of Engineering and they spoke about other trends and movements happening at Google. The execs spoke briefly about the rise of HTML 5 and the longevity of apps. Specifically, will developers continue to build apps for different platforms or gravitate to a standard.

Also on topic was Google's push to deliver ultra-high-speed connections to whole cities - something that has prompted cities to compete to be one of the chosen cities. Eustace noted that Google has a history of doing these sorts of things, notably building a wireless network in its hometown of Mountain View and grander plans to build in other cities.

But, like this latest push into ultra high speeds, this effort is less about layering the world with new technology. It's almost more like a learning exercise for Google to understand a deployment like this - the economics of it, the obstacles of it and the successes involved with it. Simply said: There are some things that you simply cannot learn on paper. "Sometimes you have to just build it and understand what the issues are," he said.

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