TR: This sounds similar to the Microsoft project Live Mesh.
CM: That’s a perfect example. Ray Ozzie’s been doing that work for several years to build, essentially, a cloud platform that is complementary to the evolving client or multiclient platform. It would provide common data services and orchestration processes that you could subscribe to from each of the related clients. That is indeed one of the early visible parts of this composite platform that we are trying to bring forward.
TR: People also talk about cloud computing as “software as a service,” with the idea that the software all comes to the user from the cloud. But that doesn’t seem to be the view you’re taking.
CM: People who started out and said, “Hey, all software should just become a service,” started out with the misconception that the computing model that we know is mature and won’t evolve anymore. Therefore, if communications capability and cost continue to improve, then maybe I should just put all the computing back in the middle and leave some modicum of intelligence at the edge in order to facilitate the presentation.
TR: You use the term “software plus services.” What do you mean by that?
CM: There are things that are valuable when centralized in a cloud and presented as a service. But if you look at the most sophisticated applications today–even the ones that are web-oriented–they increasingly depend on more and more sophisticated client components. I think the reason is that bandwidth is not infinite, and certainly not always available, and certainly not cheap. While that may improve, there is also the physical problem of latency.
What you start to see is a new application class. I contend it makes no sense to try to push [lots of data and processing] up the wire [to the cloud, just] so that it can come back and talk to you. And so, ultimately, that leads us back to what I call this composite platform, where you’ve got a balanced set of roles between what you expect the cloud to provide and what you expect the clients to provide themselves.