In February I posted on Lew’s law, a prediction by former SUN CTO Lew Tucker stating that IT expenses will increasingly track to the cost of electricity. Tucker gave a keynote presentation on The Ultimate Cost of Computing at the recent Cloud Connect conference, where he gives some more insights into his views on the evolving cost model for cloud computing.
Tucker begins by stating that the driving forces of cloud computing are technology and the market, symbolised by Gordon Moore and Adam Smith (the author of the invisible hand of the market). He shows that Moore’s law, the doubling of computing power every 1 – 2 years, continues to be achieved by the microprocessor industry as a whole, with computing power increasing by a factor of one million over the last 40 years.
In the last few years these gains have been supported by multi-core processors, issues with power consumption, chip cooling and production costs invalidate the assumption that smaller components are the most cost effective strategy to increase processing capability. The future probably then lies with more chips of a given complexity rather than with chips of increased complexity. So Moore's Law may actually be maintained but not for the reasons that Moore predicted (increased chip density).
A key question for Lew is whether cloud service providers can pass on the benefits of Moore’s law to customers. Already the cost per hour of a CPU (instance) has dropped from $1 to less than two hundredths of a cent over the last 15 years.
But what are the real costs of cloud computing? Are faster computers the deciding factor? Apparently not - it's administration and power consumption.
Cloud computing wins by leveraging automation, virtualization, dynamic provision, massive scaling and multi-tenancy, which all lead to power becoming the dominant cost (mainly for scaling and cooling). And data centre power consumption has already doubled in the last 5 years
So Lew’s law can now be started as
In the cloud, the cost of computing will continue to fall bounded only by cost of energy
Being an ex-SUN man, Lew must take some delight in this final slide