March 6, 2009

Context Aware Cloud Deployments

Dave Rosenberg  /  CNET News

Today's never-ending data supply still requires significant processing to make sense of things that occur.

One way to address this challenge is to apply semantic principles that help provide context into the datastream. Trying to figure out this notion of context-aware applications and how it applies to cloud applications, I connected with Ted Tanner, CTO of Belief Networks, a semantic intelligence software provider.

It's an interesting idea that you could apply contextualized enrichment across various cloud and online applications in order to better automate decisions. Right now this technology is probably a bit too out there for most developers, but Ted and team are exploring new distribution and deployment methods (already on EC2) to get the software into more developer hands and online applications.

So, what does "context aware" mean? "Context" describes the environment or setting in which something occurs. From a business perspective, context can be an employee making a decision with the help of colleagues who happen to be online at that moment (Twitter/IM etc), or a consumer who, based on proximity and previous history, decides to frequent a particular merchant or restaurant. In these cases, context is used from a subjective perspective – most end users grasp the concept of the added value of making informed, context-aware decisions.

From a software perspective, context is information that is relevant to the functioning of the process, but is not essential to it, and, in the absence of it, the software still is operational. In some scenarios, context-aware systems monitor context for notable changes and patterns, and may be the only function of software – the anticipation of needs.

And, why does this make sense for the cloud? Context-aware computing is implemented in silos that anticipate where a particular person, group, or business process profits from being situationally aware. To replicate, scale and integrate such systems, certain repeatable patterns emerge that will require a new enterprise solution architecture known as context delivery architecture (CoDA). Add in semantic security to alleviate privacy issues and we have personalized, in the moment contextual knowledge brokering. To roll your own use-case, check out