The Quest for the Holy Grail of Storage … RAM Cloud

Cloudline | Blog | The Quest for the Holy Grail of Storage … RAM Cloud.

The cloud has a big problem on its hands: Cloud storage is failure-prone, slow, and infinitely quirky. Anyone whose platform has been taken offline by one of Amazon’s periodic elastic block storage (EBS) outages can vouch for the fact that reliably storing data in the cloud is a very hard problem, and one that we’re only just beginning to solve.

Recently, solid-state disks (SSDs) have arisen as an answer to the performance part of the cloud storage challenge, but there are deeper problems with scalability and synchronization that merely moving the same databases from hard disk to SSD doesn’t necessarily solve. That’s why a group at Stanford has a radical suggestion: Datacenters should just put everything in RAM.

The proposed system, which the researchers are calling RAMcloud, would be a one-size-fits-all solution to the cloud storage problem that would replace the mosaic of SQL, NoSQL, object, and block storage solutions that cloud providers currently use to address different storage niches. And if it achieves the latter goal, then RAMcloud could be the badly needed breakthrough that does for cloud databases what Microsoft Access and Visual Basic did for relational databases by bringing the technology firmly within the grasp of ordinary programmers and analysts.

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With Siri, Apple Could Eventually Build A Real AI

Cloudline | Blog | With Siri, Apple Could Eventually Build A Real AI.

As iPhone 4S’s flood into the hands of the public, users are coming face-to-face with something that they weren’t quite expecting: Apple’s new voice interface, Siri, has an attitude. Ask Siri where to hide a body, for instance, and she’ll give you a list of choices that include a reservoir, a mine, and a swamp. Ask her how much would could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood, and she might tell you the answer is 42 cords, or she might ask you to clarify if it’s an African or European woodchuck.

Joshua Topolsky’s at This Is My Next began gathering some of the service’s cheekier answers on Wednesday, and now there’s a Tumblr up called Shit That Siri Says which houses an even more extensive, growing collection.

Siri’s answers are cute, but they’re not much different from the “Easter eggs” that sly coders have been slipping into software for decades. Or are they? I want to suggest, in all earnestness, that as Siri’s repertoire of canned responses grows, Apple could end up with a bona fide artificial intelligence, at least in the “weak AI” sense. Siri may be yet another chatterbot, but it’s a chatterbot with a cloud back-end, and that cloudy combination of real-time analytics and continuous deployment makes all the difference.

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