As companies glom onto cloud computing, stateless computing is likely to emerge as a core tenant within the cloud and one that can deliver cost savings, predicted the chief technology architect for Merrill Lynch.
But to get to the state of stateless computing, companies will need to change the way they view their hardware needs and how they store and access the information, said Jeffrey Birnbaum of Merrill Lynch, who served as a keynote speaker Tuesday at LinuxWorld in San Francisco.
"Stateless computing isn't about having no state. It's kind of a misnomer. It's about where that state is stored. Since the emergence of the PC in the early '80s, we have stored the state on the physical computer and that has presented a myriad of challenges that has driven IT costs through the roof," Birnbaum said.
With stateless computing, users' settings and data are automatically saved to the server, which could be run by their employer or outsourced. Cloud computing generally refers to technology that lets people use Web browsers to access applications running on central servers, though it also can refer to general-purpose server infrastructure that companies can tap into as needed.
Birnbaum noted that in stateless computing, as in cloud computing, companies need to ask themselves what they seek to achieve, how much capacity they expect they'll need, and whether those needs will change and when. And from there, a placement engine goes out and searches for capacity within a physical server or through a virtual machine (verses, for example, filling the need by buying an additional 20 dedicated servers on a network.)
But key to accessing the information and applications via stateless computing is placing them all in an organized name space file system. For example, Gmail.google.com is a name space, in which Gmail is the application and Google is the domain, which aids users in how to navigate to the site.
A similar method can be use with applications, said Birnbaum, who noted Merrill Lynch is in the process of building a name space, with a file system behind it and a set of tools to manage that name space.
Whether companies are using Windows or Linux, there is a root of a file system, a meta project, and version number.
"The key to this is the version. The idea is to put everything you view, whether it's an application or library, you put it into this file system. So, therefore, you never have this problem of an IT industry created problem of the software stack," Birnbaum said. "If you placed every little thing that you had, a config file, everything, into a version name space, and then you were able to build your applications against that and all the dependencies for applications were referable in this file system, there would be no need to ever build a stack because every application would inherently know what it's dependents were and would all be (retrievable) through this global file system."
He added that the advent of 10GB Ethernet will aid the move to cloudless computing, and also stateless computing.
As for cost savings via stateless computing, Birnbaum noted that the use of stateless computing will remove a lot of IT redundancies for companies. He added that 61 percent of computing systems are underutilized, because of these redundancies.