I spoke at the SIMposium ASIA event in Hong Kong this week and my talk explored the synergies between the Operator and Cloud computing. As with many of my blogs/talks , this one also takes a cross stack/cross platform view and as usual, I seek any comments and feedback(The ideas are a part of a forthcoming book called Implementing Mobile Web 2.0)
Please also read the previous post in this context which explores why the Cloud needs a client: Cloud or Fog? The battle for supremacy in the cloud is not a dogfight but will be fought in the trenches.
Here, we take these ideas further to discuss the possibilities of a mobile client for the cloud and we explore the concept that if the Cloud needs a client , then the next generation SIM card (which I am calling SCWS SIM) is potentially the client for the Cloud from an Operator perspective.
To recap some ideas we have discussed before:
Cloud computing is a paradigm in which information is permanently stored in servers on the Internet and cached temporarily on clients that include desktops, entertainment centers, table computers, notebooks, wall computers, handhelds, etc.
With cloud computing, the browser is becoming a platform to run Web apps . By Web apps, we mean that an application that runs mainly on the Web. However, the browser was never meant to take that role i.e. the browser has evolved into this role overtime by chance. The browser has had many cosmetic features (Dials, UI etc) and the UI has been the emphasis of the Browser vendors. But increasingly, UI alone is not enough if the browser can run Web apps. The browser needs some key elements of the Operating system to be a true (ground up) platform to run web apps
Ray Ozzie of Microsoft alluded to this principle first when he essentially redefines the SAAS paradigm to Software plus service – in effect incorporating the role of a client for the cloud. And it was reinforced further with the launch of Chrome when we truly realised that the cloud may indeed need a client.
If we put the chrome announcement in perspective, then it is like swinging a sledgehammer to the browser paradigm i.e. it is a VERY heavy duty approach to adopt and the Chrome web site provides a clue about the architectural approach which Google has taken. Chrome addresses this problem i.e. decides to create a browser from first principles , as per Google’s stated vision for Chrome
Since we spend so much time online, we began seriously thinking about what kind of browser could exist if you started from scratch and built on the best elements out there. What we really needed was not just a browser, but also a modern platform for web pages and applications, and that’s what we set out to build.
Chrome innovations include three specific developments (besides the UI obiously)
a) Sandbox processes: Chrome splits each task into a separate process (‘sandbox’) (process management)
b) Security: Chrome enforces a simple computer security model whereby there are two levels of multilevel security
So, it would appear that the resultant entity(Chrome) is a hybrid between a browser and an operating system – and potentially the consistent with the philosophy that the Cloud needs a client.
If we accept that the Cloud needs a client, then what could be the Mobile client for the cloud?
Let us look at the Mobile ecosystem and ask ourselves – Where is the edge of the network? (for simplicity – I am considering only the Operator network in this discussion)
There are two possibilities, the device (which includes the browser of course) and the SIM.
Much progress has been made with the device through OMTP BONDI, Google Gears etc but still much more needs to be done. The second possibility is the SIM. When I say ‘SIM’ – I mean the next generation Smart Card Web server based SIM and that includes(in its full implementation) at least the following
a) A complete Web server
b) Upto 1G of memory
c) A full browser standards based application development environment
d) Capability to run offline web applications
e) Access to device APIs
f) A trusted ecosystem
In other words, it has all the elements to potentially be the client for the Cloud from an Operator standpoint. There is one key advantage for the Operator i.e. while roadmaps for devices and browsers may deviate from Operators; roadmap for SCWS SIM is much more aligned by Operator (since the Operator controls the SIM)
So, the Operator vision could be:
a) SCWS SIM becomes the client for the cloud
b) Operator adds value since single point of contact for many cloud services (a place to store logins) managed through SCWS technology
d) Mirrors a wider strategy of the web
e) Client side processing is enabled by faster, local, secure execution and it is still standards based.
Note: This is not an Open/Closed issue since that decision is a commercial one and not a technical implementation one.
And one final point, the approach (client heavy cloud) is adopted by others (i.e. not just Google and Microsoft) – for instance: Microsoft with Dynamics CRM, Microsoft Outlook;
Adobe with their Air (Adobe Integrated Runtime); Adobe bringing Flash, Action script and MXML to the desktop; Salesforce.com with Appexchange; Google with Android, and Chrome
Any comments welcome.