Monday, June 16, 2008

Google Conference on Scalability - First Impression

As expected from conference schedule, Google conference turned out to be a technical event primarily focused on parallel programming and infrastructure scalability. At last minute, Google decided to merge two tracks in to one. Though, I got to attend all the sessions, they felt time-compressed and rushed. I was surprised to see lot of attendees who came from outside Seattle. I met quite a few people from Bay area, Canada and Europe. I enjoyed the sessions though some audience members commented about very technical nature of the conference compared to previous year. As Brian Bershad, Google commented in his welcome speech, the challenge is to find technologies and solutions to scale handling search queries from 600 million to 6 billion. And, I came away better informed on different challenges and potential solutions we may see down the road.

I also sat down and chatted with Robin Harris. We decided to forego making a video of our conversation. I am not a big fan of talking head videos or podcasts unless they leverage the unique values of these methods not available through written words or pictures. And who wants to listen to two storage bloggers chatting about nothing. I find them miserable myself so why put others through the same misery.

In my opinion, three sessions: CARMEN: a Scalable Science Cloud [PDF], GIGA+: Scalable Directories for Shared File Systems [PDF] and maidsafe stood out at the conference from infrastructure scalability perspective. Communicating Like Nemo was very entertaining. The common theme in audience questions on most infrastructure presentations was reliability, availability, scalability, and security of the offered solution. It is a good indication of what is on the mind of people when evaluating new infrastructure offerings. With the popularity of hashing in storage of data, speeding up hash lookup is becoming an interesting problem for scalability.

David Irvine's session on maidsafe was the only session where a speaker white-boarded most of the presentation. His confidence and knowledge was commendable. Not many speakers can pull off white-boarding 80% of presentation with 100s in audience. Comparing maidsafe with ant colony was an interesting way to show scalability and simplicity of solution. Maidsafe solution seems to be in same category as RevStor, Seanodes, Cleversafe, Oceanstor, Farsite and several others that are trying to leverage storage across 100s and 1,000s of distributed nodes in a peer-to-peer or quid pro quo network, a solution most likely attractive to players in cloud and web distribution market.

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