Cloud is History: The Sum of Trust

By Scott Clark

July 5, 2010

To continue where we left off with the last blog, this time we are focusing the discussion around trust. In considering cloud, this is probably the largest barrier we will encounter.

If we look at history, the issues associated with trusting someone else to perform what we view as a critical element of our business has been faced and successfully addressed in the past. Semiconductor companies had to have the entire process of manufacturing under their direct oversight and control because portions of that process were considered business differentiating and proprietary, and close coupling between design process and manufacturing process were required for successful ASIC development (lots of iterative, back and forth process). As time marched on, capacity needs increased, complexity climbed, the cost increased with each of those dynamics, creating an ever higher barrier to entry for maintaining existing or creating new fabrication facilities. In the mid 1980’s, we witnessed the birth of the first foundry, with TSMC coming onto the scene to create a differentiated business model (Fabless Semiconductor), where engineering companies could focus on just the process of design, and then hand off their designs off to TSMC to be manufactured. The Fabless Semiconductor Industry is a $50B market today, and growing.

So, are the issues we face with datacenters today any different? Not really, just a slight different view of the same picture. The dynamics are the same: a non-linear cost increase due to capacity and complexity increases is the driver for re-evaluating the current position. The function is considered critical, and sometimes differentiating and/or proprietary to the business, and is therefore internally maintained at present. And finally, the function deals directly with the core product of the company, therefore security is a paramount concern. What we witnessed with the fabrication facilities is that many companies were able to realize the cost benefits of outsourcing that function without damaging the business, so we should be able to follow that model to realize the cost benefits that cloud computing offers with respect to the datacenter. And we even have a recipe for success to look and use as a template for what to do and how to do it.

 What customers of cloud will be looking for from service providers is multi-faceted:

  • Budget control – making sure they can continue to do the right thing for their company from a cost perspective and continue to come up with creative ways to keep budgets under control. This includes making sure they do not get locked into exclusive relationships, so they need to make sure that there are multiple vendor options so that there can be competition. In the same light, they need to make sure that the solution they consume is standards based, so that moving to another provider is simple, straight forward, and not costly.
  • Do it my way – points to customer intimacy. The consumer company must understand the solution they are leveraging and the supplier must provide the solution in such a way that it makes sense to the customer. This sounds obvious, but in many cases, companies have been held hostage even by their own internal IT organizations through confusing terminology, overly complex descriptions of solutions, and territorial behavior. The customer should understand the solution on their terms, which implies that the service provider must intimately understand the customer’s core business. Customers should get the services and solution they need, which is something specific to their business, not something bootstrapped from another industry or something built for a different or generic purpose. And it is not sufficient to have really smart technology people on staff, and have the customer tell the service provider exactly what they need so the supplier can do the right thing – many times the customer doesn’t know what they need, they just want it to work right. That is why this needs to be domain specific, performed by domain experts in the customer’s space.
  • Honesty – do I believe you? The customer needs to have faith and confidence that the supplier has the best interest of the consumer as a driver. Understanding intent and understanding positive behavioral characteristics as compared to negative ones. Any competitive or adversarial behavior will be the tip that trust should be called into question.
  • Focus on my business, not yours (counter-intuitive concept). This is really the crux of the issue. If the customer can really believe that the supplier is looking out for customer interests first, and not only trying to tell the customer whatever they think they want to hear, only then will the customer allow the supplier to absorb responsibility from them for their infrastructure to help make them successful. This is key because if the customer has to continue to drive success and own all the responsibility, then nothing has really changed, and it is probably easier for the customer to continue keeping all the resource in-house where they have much more direct control over hire/fire, retention, resource caliber, etc.

As a result, cloud service providers will need to demonstrate many things in order to establish trustworthiness. From an intent standpoint, make sure the focus is on the end customer. In the EDA space, that would be the engineer. Understand the customer’s business to the point that you can help them do their job. This implies an intimate understanding of the tools, what they do, how they work, and where they fit as well as business model, economic drivers, and a solid grasp of the industry dynamics. Also, the supplier should maintain a long term view (strategic) in addition to a short term perspective (tactical). Always do the right thing now, but how solutions are designed to scale into the future can have significant cost impacts over time. Finally, it should always be relationship focused. The ability to judge trustworthiness is measured over time, and your every action defines the integrity and character of your organization.

The behavior portion for the supplier is fairly straightforward. Deal with customers in a transparent, honest fashion. Don’t try to hide things, don’t try to play the poker game of masking your agenda, or worrying about what you’re leaving on the table, masking how much anyone is getting, trying to optimize one variable in the whole equation (profit/one sided benefit/etc.). Don’t create win / lose scenarios and don’t try to get some undeserved benefit. Exchanges should always be “appropriate” and fair, avoid adversarial relationship development. If relationship turns adversarial, be open to walking away. Customers need to be trained how to conduct themselves in a trustworthy manner as well as service providers, and have an equal hand in creating a trusting relationship. Make sure your relationships are cooperative, and not competitive. If you compete with your customers about who is smarter or who is the better negotiator, or only believing a deal is good if you win and the customer loses, you are building a bomb, not a partnership.

There is an equal amount of responsibility on the consumer side of the equation in order to get a partner. From an intent standpoint the customer should make sure the focus is on the business problem (not departmental issues, not policy issues, not contract issues, etc.), and help the service provider navigate the customer internal process in order to keep the focus on the business problem. The customer also needs to make sure there is strong communication with regard to intended future direction for the company to ensure that plans are strategic and not only focused only on the present. The concept of relationship implies a mutual dependence, and it is recognized that interdependence creates risk/exposure, but also accomplishes the desired efficiencies, economies of scale, superior solutions, and optimizes economic benefit.

Behaviorally, the customer should also demonstrate transparency and honesty, not hiding information from the provider. Create an environment where the supplier can feel safe being open and honest. The customer wants to understand that they are not being taken advantage of, and that can happen in good ways or bad ways. We will talk more about the good ways in our next blog on organization changes. The good way is to have done all the homework necessary to know roughly what the right answer looks like prior to getting that answer (whether price, technical solution, or technology direction). There is a tremendous amount of work that goes into the development of instincts. The wrong answer, adversarial behavior – just pounding vendors for a better price or a better discount or more resources so that you feel you got a deal, without any comprehension of what an appropriate price or solution looks like, will have fatal results for trust and your relationship with your vendors. Competitive or adversarial behavior will result in an adversarial response, which causes a lack of honesty leading to no trust.

You should not worry about “am I getting a better deal than anyone else in the world” or masking a lack of understanding by treating vendor brutally. Do your homework, know how much something is worth, and make sure you are getting an appropriate price and an appropriate solution. Don’t try to optimize one variable in the whole equation (overly custom for no benefit, only focus on cost, etc.) and don’t create a win / lose scenarios or expect to get something undeserved. Everyone needs to care about the health of the ecosystem. Lack of trust means that you will not get good deals or appropriate solutions for the long run.

In conclusion, businesses should focus on the core competency of the business. All non-core portions of the business should be considered for outsource provided good business practices. If there exists a trustworthy, cost effective, customer focused provider of non-core, non-strategically differentiated functions of the business, those providers should be patronized. If not, create them. Examples of this would be Global Foundries spin off from AMD, Jazz Semiconductor spin off from Conexant, etc. Outsource needs to be structured and contracted in such a way that it facilitates trustworthiness. Make sure the solutions can be moved to alternate provider without significant modification or cost. Avoid getting committed to vendor locked-in solutions (hardware, software, people, or process). Make sure the solution is standards based and non-proprietary. Make sure that the solution can take advantage of new innovations immediately. Ensure that you negotiate built in growth ramps for normal business evolution while maintaining flat (predictable) cost to the business (budget control). And make sure the solution scales with the business use case (up or down).

Subscribe to HPCwire's Weekly Update!

Be the most informed person in the room! Stay ahead of the tech trends with industy updates delivered to you every week!

RSC Reports 500Tflops, Hot Water Cooled System Deployed at JINR

April 18, 2018

RSC, developer of supercomputers and advanced HPC systems based in Russia, today reported deployment of “the world's first 100% ‘hot water’ liquid cooled supercomputer” at Joint Institute for Nuclear Research (JI Read more…

By Staff

New Device Spots Quantum Particle ‘Fingerprint’

April 18, 2018

Majorana particles have been observed by university researchers employing a device consisting of layers of magnetic insulators on a superconducting material. The advance opens the door to controlling the elusive particle Read more…

By George Leopold

Cray Rolls Out AMD-Based CS500; More to Follow?

April 18, 2018

Cray was the latest OEM to bring AMD back into the fold with introduction today of a CS500 option based on AMD’s Epyc processor line. The move follows Cray’s introduction of an ARM-based system (XC-50) last November. Read more…

By John Russell

HPE Extreme Performance Solutions

HPC and AI Convergence is Accelerating New Levels of Intelligence

Data analytics is the most valuable tool in the digital marketplace – so much so that organizations are employing high performance computing (HPC) capabilities to rapidly collect, share, and analyze endless streams of data. Read more…

Hennessy & Patterson: A New Golden Age for Computer Architecture

April 17, 2018

On Monday June 4, 2018, 2017 A.M. Turing Award Winners John L. Hennessy and David A. Patterson will deliver the Turing Lecture at the 45th International Symposium on Computer Architecture (ISCA) in Los Angeles. The Read more…

By Staff

Cray Rolls Out AMD-Based CS500; More to Follow?

April 18, 2018

Cray was the latest OEM to bring AMD back into the fold with introduction today of a CS500 option based on AMD’s Epyc processor line. The move follows Cray’ Read more…

By John Russell

IBM: Software Ecosystem for OpenPOWER is Ready for Prime Time

April 16, 2018

With key pieces of the IBM/OpenPOWER versus Intel/x86 gambit settling into place – e.g., the arrival of Power9 chips and Power9-based systems, hyperscaler sup Read more…

By John Russell

US Plans $1.8 Billion Spend on DOE Exascale Supercomputing

April 11, 2018

On Monday, the United States Department of Energy announced its intention to procure up to three exascale supercomputers at a cost of up to $1.8 billion with th Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Cloud-Readiness and Looking Beyond Application Scaling

April 11, 2018

There are two aspects to consider when determining if an application is suitable for running in the cloud. The first, which we will discuss here under the title Read more…

By Chris Downing

Transitioning from Big Data to Discovery: Data Management as a Keystone Analytics Strategy

April 9, 2018

The past 10-15 years has seen a stark rise in the density, size, and diversity of scientific data being generated in every scientific discipline in the world. Key among the sciences has been the explosion of laboratory technologies that generate large amounts of data in life-sciences and healthcare research. Large amounts of data are now being stored in very large storage name spaces, with little to no organization and a general unease about how to approach analyzing it. Read more…

By Ari Berman, BioTeam, Inc.

IBM Expands Quantum Computing Network

April 5, 2018

IBM is positioning itself as a first mover in establishing the era of commercial quantum computing. The company believes in order for quantum to work, taming qu Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

FY18 Budget & CORAL-2 – Exascale USA Continues to Move Ahead

April 2, 2018

It was not pretty. However, despite some twists and turns, the federal government’s Fiscal Year 2018 (FY18) budget is complete and ended with some very positi Read more…

By Alex R. Larzelere

Nvidia Ups Hardware Game with 16-GPU DGX-2 Server and 18-Port NVSwitch

March 27, 2018

Nvidia unveiled a raft of new products from its annual technology conference in San Jose today, and despite not offering up a new chip architecture, there were still a few surprises in store for HPC hardware aficionados. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Inventor Claims to Have Solved Floating Point Error Problem

January 17, 2018

"The decades-old floating point error problem has been solved," proclaims a press release from inventor Alan Jorgensen. The computer scientist has filed for and Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Researchers Measure Impact of ‘Meltdown’ and ‘Spectre’ Patches on HPC Workloads

January 17, 2018

Computer scientists from the Center for Computational Research, State University of New York (SUNY), University at Buffalo have examined the effect of Meltdown Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Fast Forward: Five HPC Predictions for 2018

December 21, 2017

What’s on your list of high (and low) lights for 2017? Volta 100’s arrival on the heels of the P100? Appearance, albeit late in the year, of IBM’s Power9? Read more…

By John Russell

Russian Nuclear Engineers Caught Cryptomining on Lab Supercomputer

February 12, 2018

Nuclear scientists working at the All-Russian Research Institute of Experimental Physics (RFNC-VNIIEF) have been arrested for using lab supercomputing resources to mine crypto-currency, according to a report in Russia’s Interfax News Agency. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

How the Cloud Is Falling Short for HPC

March 15, 2018

The last couple of years have seen cloud computing gradually build some legitimacy within the HPC world, but still the HPC industry lies far behind enterprise I Read more…

By Chris Downing

Chip Flaws ‘Meltdown’ and ‘Spectre’ Loom Large

January 4, 2018

The HPC and wider tech community have been abuzz this week over the discovery of critical design flaws that impact virtually all contemporary microprocessors. T Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

How Meltdown and Spectre Patches Will Affect HPC Workloads

January 10, 2018

There have been claims that the fixes for the Meltdown and Spectre security vulnerabilities, named the KPTI (aka KAISER) patches, are going to affect applicatio Read more…

By Rosemary Francis

Nvidia Responds to Google TPU Benchmarking

April 10, 2017

Nvidia highlights strengths of its newest GPU silicon in response to Google's report on the performance and energy advantages of its custom tensor processor. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Leading Solution Providers

Deep Learning at 15 PFlops Enables Training for Extreme Weather Identification at Scale

March 19, 2018

Petaflop per second deep learning training performance on the NERSC (National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center) Cori supercomputer has given climate Read more…

By Rob Farber

Lenovo Unveils Warm Water Cooled ThinkSystem SD650 in Rampup to LRZ Install

February 22, 2018

This week Lenovo took the wraps off the ThinkSystem SD650 high-density server with third-generation direct water cooling technology developed in tandem with par Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

AI Cloud Competition Heats Up: Google’s TPUs, Amazon Building AI Chip

February 12, 2018

Competition in the white hot AI (and public cloud) market pits Google against Amazon this week, with Google offering AI hardware on its cloud platform intended Read more…

By Doug Black

HPC and AI – Two Communities Same Future

January 25, 2018

According to Al Gara (Intel Fellow, Data Center Group), high performance computing and artificial intelligence will increasingly intertwine as we transition to Read more…

By Rob Farber

New Blueprint for Converging HPC, Big Data

January 18, 2018

After five annual workshops on Big Data and Extreme-Scale Computing (BDEC), a group of international HPC heavyweights including Jack Dongarra (University of Te Read more…

By John Russell

Google Chases Quantum Supremacy with 72-Qubit Processor

March 7, 2018

Google pulled ahead of the pack this week in the race toward "quantum supremacy," with the introduction of a new 72-qubit quantum processor called Bristlecone. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Momentum Builds for US Exascale

January 9, 2018

2018 looks to be a great year for the U.S. exascale program. The last several months of 2017 revealed a number of important developments that help put the U.S. Read more…

By Alex R. Larzelere

US Plans $1.8 Billion Spend on DOE Exascale Supercomputing

April 11, 2018

On Monday, the United States Department of Energy announced its intention to procure up to three exascale supercomputers at a cost of up to $1.8 billion with th Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

  • arrow
  • Click Here for More Headlines
  • arrow
Share This