Posted by: Greg Ness | June 29, 2009

Hoff’s “Metastructure” and the Intercloud

The intercloud is the most interesting development in cloud computing (and perhaps the data center) since the migration of hypervisors into production environments.  It’s a model for driving incredible scale and efficiency from IT systems and hardware, and it can be architected for both public and private clouds.

The intercloud turns a global network of clouds (or virtualized data centers) into a cohesive, elastic and flexible mesh of on-demand processing power.  It shifts the balance of IT power from centralized to distributed architectures by allowing enterprises a wider range of on demand IT service delivery choices.

For example, services could be delivered from one location over another because of short term differentials in power and/or labor costs.  It would also give enterprises more viable options for dealing with localized tax or regulatory changes.

The intercloud doesn’t yet exist, however—It has at least one missing piece: the automation of manual tasks at the core of the network.  The intercloud requires automation of network services, the arcane collection of manual processes required today to keep networks and applications available.

Until there is network service automation, all intercloud bets are off.  This gap between the delivery of cloud services today (via higher VM density and centralization) and the arrival of the distributed intercloud is the next period of stability before the next IT disruption.   Because of the low margin/high service (and high CapEx investments) involved in building scalable, elastic cloud services, the size of this intermediate cloud period will make all the difference for service providers and startups.




  1. What happened with the Active Networks research – e.g. ANTS, JanOS – ?!? I remember having had a project theme, almost 10 yrs ago, for an active/on-the-fly “programmable” network analysis. Solutions like those appear to be able to address some missing pieces of the intercloud, aren’t they?


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