In a keynote today at Interop in Las Vegas, Hölzle described the evolution of Google’s cloud-computing infrastructure, which indeed has been driven by open-source technology and container technology. He said that that virtualized computing may be displaced by containers, which Google favors as a technology for cloud.
“We have to go with containers,” Hölzle said. “We need to think about applications instead of machines. The system manages the placement on machines. You don’t have to think about OS, security patches, and configuration. A whole class of administrative tasks is removed.”
Hölzle said that Google does not believe in using virtual machine (VM) technology.
“We’ve never used VMs for our workloads; we’ve used containers. We think it’s a much better way.”
Hölzle’s vision comes from the lessons learned by building Google’s massive infrastructure, which has evolved from a few servers in a closet to the world’s largest cloud computing infrastructure. Hölzle was Google’s eighth employee and started building out the infrastructure in 1999.
Google built its own infrastructure, including servers and switches, out of necessity, not design. Hölzle said during the first few years of Google, search traffic was growing so fast that its engineers could not keep up. Because server technology was too expensive and cumbersome to install, Google went the homebrew route.
Later, as Google’s data centers scaled to huge size, Google innovated further with technologies such as seawater cooling, massively parallel computing, and data clusters. Some of the technology that Google helped create included MapReduce (which became part of Hadoop), software defined networking (SDN), and the database technology Flume, which became Google Cloud Dataflow. Hölzle pointed out that Google modified the Linux operating system to run the first container technology, which eventually evolved into today’s hot technology du jour, Docker.
Behind much of Google’s activity was the principle of open source, says Hölzle. Many of these innovations found their way into open source, which Hölzle says is driving innovation in the cloud.
“Open source is a real amplifier of cloud computing,” Hölzle said. “And conversely, cloud computing is a real amplifier for open sources.”
He urged the audience to embrace and learn open source.
“I believe that open source is here to stay and become stronger over time and that you should build your business on it.”
Some of the other changes that Hölzle expects in cloud computing include dynamic pricing of cloud services and per-minute billing (rather than per-month). In addition to financial advances, Holzle believes the cloud will be the place for the development improving security and compliance, which he highlighted as big problems.
Hölzle expects the innovation driven by cloud computing and open source to continue at a rapid pace, with major changes to emerge quickly.
“The cloud five years from now will look as different from today’s cloud as the first smartphone compared with a Nokia feature phone,” says Holzle. “If we actually manage to do that, it will have huge benefits to all of us.”