Little Cloud Quantum Houses

Patrick Kerpan originally wrote this exclusive prediction for the CohesiveFT ebook “Cloud Memoirs: Views from Below, Inside, and Above” 

Cloud to the ground. The cloud seems like a cloud (as opposed to also fog and flood) because we don’t yet have ubiquity of connectivity, storage, and computation close to us. It is “out there”, “up there”, across our Internet connection.

Photo credit: Flickr user nordique

However, as we get additional orders of magnitude of connectivity, storage and computation and it gets closer to us – what are we going to call it? When I have more addressable storage and computation in my wearable items than I traditionally have had in my home – what will we call it. Good gosh, I hope to never hear the term “body cloud”.

It is cloudy precisely because it is far away. And as we reach the end of what might be considered the first generation public cloud, we can see that the design center of “far away” has taken root in most (if not all) of the offerings. “Far away” has taken root in the feature set and also (IMHO) in the mindset of the providers.

Traditional data center connectivity vendors (metal makers) did not believe the emergence of the hypervisor switch, the virtual network controller, etc was even close to happening. We (the CohesiveFT team) got laughed out of Cisco, once in summer of 2008, again in 2010, as we were told (to paraphrase) “no one will run networks via virtual infrastructure, this is a hardware thing”.

Now look where we are. The metal makers now know virtual network infrastructures: NFV, SDN, controllers, Open Source hardware, etc.. are all here to stay, and are profoundly changing the nature of their business.

Yet there is a new “we will do it all” crowd, and somewhat surprisingly it is the datacenter, virtual infrastructure, hypervisor infrastructure folks.

CohesiveFT SDN NFV networking market IaaS to SaaS network appliancesAs context, CohesiveFT’s business is hybrid networking which occurs as part of application deployment in virtual infrastructure. We run in VMs/containers that are deployed into the compute fabric. Our wires are software, our boxes are software. We are connectivity that is formed dynamically out of compute. We run far above the hypervisor just like the applications do, providing distributed control, federation and security within the application layer, using hypervisor networking as a service provider to us and a source of “bulk transport” for our IP bits. Where the application can go, we can go.

Despite having a portfolio of 500+ great, connected customers, many of them well known, recognizable industry leaders, who have driven about 100 million hours of virtual network use-cases, many of our hypervisor/virtual data center/public cloud partners tell us “thanks for being you, for now, but really we will do it all”.

As the underlying “metal” resources have become bulk compute, bulk storage, and bulk transport consumed by the cloud management platform, they are now “the big dog”. Just like the metal makers who said “it will never be virtualized”, the virtualizers tell us, “it will never be containerized, distributed and out of our control”.


So despite the self proclaimed apotheosis of each layer of the computing stack – the future will bring stacks upon stacks. In the comedic style of our universe it looks more like the Cat in the Hat with Little Cat Z, then it does an ordered, controlled architecture.

It is cloudy precisely because today it is so far away.

Photo credit: Flickr user _topo_ 

But fog and flood are on their way to being close, and closer still. Optics, connectivity, computation and storage are coming down from the Mount, with these Promethean gifts, it will be cloud-to-the-ground.

(Did you notice I added optics to the cloud? In a centrally controlled, “up there” architecture it doesn’t exist, but in cloud to the ground optics and mobility are part of the fog and the flood).

We MIGHT have real, practicable quantum computing in the next decade.
We MIGHT have aesthetically pleasing, affordable, high performance solar panels in the form of roof tiles in the next decade.
We MIGHT have powerless network connectivity in the next decade.
We MIGHT have spray-on optical surfaces that look like wall paint but can display or capture images.

All this along with the monotonous drum beat of the doubling of conventional compute power, the more than doubling of conventional storage, etc. every two years. We are into the computing asymptote with conventional techniques, much less the effects of the advances above.

This will mean the roof, the walls, the doors, the floors of my house will be for all intents half data center and half organism. So will my car. So will my clothes.

Far, far, far away from the centralized hypervisor. Applications will swarm and will need self organizing connectivity, federation, management and control. This means they bring their network with them.

Will CohesiveFT and its dynamic, application-centric networks flow from the cloud to the ground? Maybe. But will cloud-to-the-ground happen? Definitely. Will the design center of “far away” prevail? It can’t. Each layer of the cloud-to-the-ground stack is going to bring its own quirks, breathy passion, and unswerving advocates.

Ubiquity will be the new design center. Ubiquitous digital atmosphere the air we breathe.

– Patrick Kerpan

This contributed piece first appeared in the CohesiveFT ebook “Cloud Memoirs: Views from Below, Inside, and Above” For all the downloadable versions, visit

By: Margaret Valtierra