Gustavo Alonso gave a keynote talk entitled "Generalization versus Specialization in cloud computing infrastructures" at IEEE International Conference on Cloud Engineering (IC2E) 2016 in Berlin.
Cloud computing represents a fundamental change in the business model behind IT: a shift from manufacturing of software and hardware products towards packaging infrastructure, processing, and storage as services. Cloud data centers, given their intended use for general purpose computing, would seem to push towards homogeneity in architectures and platforms. Modern applications and use cases, from scientific computing to big data, push in exactly the opposite direction: an increase in specialization as a way to efficiently meet demanding requirements. In this talk I will illustrate both trends and argue that, contradictory as they seem to be, there are many opportunities in combining them. Doing so requires to work in two areas. One is to find better ways to extend the performance and efficiency advantages of specialization to general purpose settings. The other is to develop the necessary software and hardware layers to allow generalized use of specialized systems. Taking together, these efforts outline an exciting research and development landscape that I will outline as a conclusion of the talk.