I'd never thought about the relationship between string theory and cloud computing before. But listening to Scott Herold, Quest Software's lead architect for virtualisation talking about his company's vision, the similarities immediately struck me.

What Heroldt - an enthusiastic and voluble speaker - was talking about was the way that to take advantage of the cloud, companies now have to make so many different decisions. First of all, there's the decision to move to the cloud in the first place - and if so how much of your development are you going to move there.

For example, there are now three distinct type of operations: platform as a service, infrastructure as a service, software as a service but they don't operate in isolation. If you reduce the reliance on platform, it has a knock-on effect on the other two (and vice versa). And there's the decision on virtualisation: how much do you? The average at the moment is between 30 to 40 percent of servers virtualised, but some go a lot higher. And once you've virtualised, how do you manage the physical and the vertical worlds.

It was then the notion struck me that the management headache for the modern administrator is moving beyond two-dimensional problems and beyond even three dimensional, trying to balance the different aspects of the modern IT system is like some puzzle from quantum mechanics. Classical string theory postulates that there are 11 dimensions, not sure that the modern CIO needs to delve into that many, but there are certainly plenty of headaches there.

It's to this end that Herold is working on a management as a service technology to help keep tabs on what's in the cloud and what's in the physical enterprise - but using the cloud itself as the resource. The way that he envisages it being used is that consultancies looking after large systems don't have to be on-site to look after the systems.

There's still some way to go, Herold is the sole instigator of the concept, so it really goes in the direction that he takes it to.<

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