Prophets normally have the advantage of being dead long before their prognostications are proven to be wrong. A few fortunate seers live beyond their predictions and are quite surprisingly, proven to be right.
One of these rare individuals is Dr. W. Daniel Hillis. (Danny) Hillis, was the mind behind Thinking Machines, the father of the Connection Machine and is to this day, a computer visionary extraordinaire that through his work at Applied Minds, Long Now Foundation and The Rosetta Project is still shaping the future of science and technology.
Dr. Hillis once speculated at the height of the client-server movement, that computing would transition back to a mainframe style time-sharing (“multi-tenant” in Cloud parlance) model with smart terminals connecting to a web of unlimited supercomputing resources. I can only imagine how many “eye rolls and snickers” he received by computer “geniuses” of the day over this prophecy.
Well Danny should be feeling pretty good given that the world is now connected through the Cloud and we are all co-tenants just as he had predicted. While the “public” Cloud does not exactly provide supercomputer performance, there are special purpose resources available that provide complex high-performance scientific computation in the Cloud.
SGI has extended supercomputing to the Cloud with their Cyclone HPC in the Cloud offering and Microsoft entered the high-performance Cloud computing space through their Modeling the World technical computing initiative.
These Cloud models are very similar to cities in that they represent collections of affinity groups. That is to say that they are typically organized by socio-economic drivers.
Socio-economics refers to the social impact of some sort of economic change. Such changes might include a closing factory, market manipulation, the signing of international trade treaties, and even new computational models such as the Cloud. Social effects can be wide-ranging in size, anywhere from local effects on a small community to changes to an entire society.
Drivers of socio-economic change include changes in laws or regulations, changes in the physical environment such as increasing crowding, new technologies such as Cloud computing and specialized services such as High Performance Clouds.
These changes may affect patterns of consumption, the distribution of incomes and wealth, the way in which people behave both in terms of purchase decisions and the way in which they choose to spend their time, and the overall quality of life (or service in the case of computing).