Short on Time

Unfortunately, targets of 150 to 200 milliseconds are roughly the time needed for the network round trip alone for worst-case city pairs such as, say, New York and Singapore.9 In other words, we use up all of our available time budget just for the network portion of the work, with no time left over for any other of the tasks in the request-response cycle. This is like blowing your vacation budget on the plane ticket, having no money left for hotel, food, wine, and recreation. It just won’t work.

But technology marches forward. Won’t global network speeds get better over time? Not without some revolutionary breakthrough, such as data transport based on quantum entanglement, or wormholes through hyperspace, because currently, the speed of light—186,282 miles per second—is the limiting factor. This is certainly fast, but it is not fast enough on a planet as large as earth populated with humans with reaction times and granularity of perception in the range of tens of milliseconds. Making things worse, the speed that light travels is not always the speed of light: In an optical fiber, light travels only at two thirds that speed, so we are down to 124,000 miles per second, which works out to 124 miles per millisecond in a fiber. This means that a round trip from say, Newark, New Jersey, to Trenton, New Jersey, takes about 1 millisecond.

Taking only 1 millisecond to go 124 miles is pretty snappy, but at that rate, the 9,500 miles between New York and Singapore takes almost ...

Get Cloudonomics: The Business Value of Cloud Computing, + Website now with O’Reilly online learning.

O’Reilly members experience live online training, plus books, videos, and digital content from 200+ publishers.