Monday, 21 June 2010

Keine Hexerei

It was good to see demos at the recent Open Grid Forum (OGF) in Chicago.

There was an OpenNebula deployed platform with associated cloud storage resources. The former used OGF Open Cloud Computing Interface (OCCI), and the latter used the Storage Networking Industry Association's (SNIA) Cloud Data Management Interface (CDMI). If I understood it right. It certainly looked nice. SNIA now have a reference implementation of CDMI - open source, too.

The grid filesystem demo worked fine - until they tried to show the resilience features . But they had a recording of a successful one. Seeing is believing.

In today's griddy and cloudy world, your work is somewhere else. To demonstrate your work to your colleagues, you need to access it. But conference networks may be flaky. Your laptop may suddenly decide to upgrade or virus check itself. You may expect to have a power socket nearby but you don't, and then you run out of battery. Of course you test it the day before but when it really matters, it doesn't work.

Jens' third law of computing: ``A succesful demo is indistinguishable from a rigged one.'' This is well known, of course: Arthur C. Clarke said "any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic."

Of course I am not accusing the successful demonstrators of cheating. They were probably just lucky.

Back in the old days, prestidigitators had to say "Keine Hexerei, nur Behändigkeit" (no witchcraft, only dexterity), to avoid accusations of witchcraft. These days in computing demos it's the other way around: no amount of dexterity alone will make it work, you need some magic or luck as well.

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