At the LinuxWorld and Next Generation Data Center Expo in San Francisco, Merrill Lynch’s chief technology architect, Jeffrey Birnbaum, discussed stateless computing and the evolution of the cloud. He envisions a future in which software processes are abstracted so far from the underlying hardware that companies will discuss processing capacity in terms of raw computational units rather than discrete servers. The real underlying value of cloud computing, he says, is that it transparently makes software and data available everywhere. He contends that this “stateless” model facilitates much greater scalability than conventional computing and can be used in conjunction with virtualization to achieve maximum datacenter utilization. “Stateless will emerge as a core, basic tenet of what’s in the cloud,” he remarked.