On the Cloud, Abstraction and Gulliver’s Travels


By Dave Duggal, founder & CEO, EnterpriseWeb LLC

Anyone who spends a lot of time in Standards bodies and Open-Source projects should appreciate the wry wit and social commentary of Jonathan Swift.

As I was writing a response in a thread on top-down (high-level abstraction) versus bottom-up (low-level interfaces) thinking I recollected the schism in Lilliput regarding breaking boiled eggs from the big end or the small end, which led to a civil war in Swift’s satirical novel. Of course, neither was right or wrong and the whole quarrel was silly.


High-level platform abstractions provide common methods for working with heterogeneous and distributed solution elements. In this way, they extend the utility of the elements as they can be readily discovered, flexibly composed and consistently managed. The abstraction doesn’t replace the element, but it does enable its higher-level programmability.

Related discussions in Cloud and NFV shouldn’t be reduced to top-down or bottom-up as that would miss the point. Organizations are increasingly fragmented. People, systems, services, resources and devices are distributed. We want to bring them together flexibly for purpose without recreating the rigid, monolithic structures everyone wants to get away from.

"All true believers shall break their eggs at the convenient end."

Here is an excerpt of the email I referred to –

The key to enabling common methods over heterogeneous, multi-vendor, multi-technology, constantly evolving solution elements whether at the level of individual Code Packages (Applications, Virtual Network Functions, Algorithms, etc.) or Management Domains (an endpoint exposing a Function-as-a-Service) is a high-level abstraction (a common model across domains).

This is why discussions re: recursive orchestration fall short. They fail to note the complexity of coordinating interaction across all the nested elements, which requires many parallel and serial operations to ensure the Customer-facing service is optimally fulfilled as a whole (i.e. choreography). In other words, who “orchestrates-the-orchestrators” and “controls the controllers”?