Cloud Camp North East

by Justin Souter on March 25, 2009

A post re a discussion of Cloud Computing at which I presented earlier this week. I have typed up my notes from the Q&A session fyi.

On Tuesday night I spent the evening in the Company of some Cloud Computing luminaries, at Cloud Camp North East England.

There were presentations from FlexiScale, RightScale, CloudSoft, Sun Microsystems, Aserver, emailcloud, Arjuna, KnowledgeIT, CohesiveFT – with Microsoft and others in the audience.

So I was slightly apprehensive, as Ross Cooney of Rozmic & Emailcloud had asked me to do an introductory presentation.

Along with Mashups and social media, Cloud computing is a real interest. Please see below my presentation, which I had to skip through in just over seven minutes – phew! (If your firewall doesn’t allow to view this, please contact us and I’ll send you the deck)

Key Points arising

I’m hoping Ross is going to publish the other presentations online, so I won’t reiterate them here. Happily most of them were below 5 minutes in length, so not too long for you to go through. :-D

I believe that the good folk from Everycity were video’ing the session, so hopefully that will also be posted online.

Key points from my slides IMHO are:

Issues
  • How to bridge the chasm from now to future
  • Systems integrators become Cloud Integrators
    • E.g. Okere, Cloud Sherpas
    • Become a Cloud integrator, or Cloud provider
  • Security issues
  • Practical, technical issues – needs a ‘wrapper’
  • Confidence / mainstream / hype cycle
Call to action
  • IMO there is a big market opportunity
    • Service provider, integrator, user
    • This is the perfect time to be playing in this area
  • The Economist says: “people want the same for less money”
    • IT shops are being asked to do more with less money / people
  • Chance to create critical mass locally, building on what’s going on already

Questions

My notes on the Q&A panel session. I have anonymised the answers, as it made it easy to type up!

  1. My question about how the panel could see things changing in the future because of the Cloud. Answers:
    • Use Computing as a commodity
      • You won’t run out of computing resources
      • More & more data will be in the Cloud
    • Businesses will think differently about computing
      • 3 guys in a corner will be able to do as much as a medium-sized IT shop
    • Greater innovation because cost is lowered;
      • also more consumer-oriented tools will become available
    • Agile development will become “Agile deployment” due to low cost, ability to scale: throw servers at a problem
    • Opportunity to use the Cloud when you move and / or re-write an application
      • sort your own infrastructure out whilst application is temporarily running in the Cloud
    • There needs to be an easy way to move your data around to protect it
    • There need to be enforceable Service Levels with cloud providers – don’t give me service credits, give me hard cash if you fail
    • Quality of Service is important
      • The easier it is to upload data, the less people think about their own responsibilities in terms of back-up and reliability
    • There was a point about service providers taking back-ups for their customers, although this was disputed
    • Bigger providers won’t be allowed to go bust
  2. Question about the difference between SLA for end users vs. SLA for corporate users
    • i.e. the former *won’t* have one, but the latter *will*
    • Has anyone been sued for lack of service? Do providers need to buy insurance
    • Answer was that Providers don’t take responsibility for data (e.g. hard drive manufacturers have contracts which absolve them of responsibility if customers lose data in the event of disk failure)
  3. Question about hosting providers
    • Cloud is *different* from your data centre
    • PaaS will aggregate different IaaS providers to give resilience
    • When offer exceeds risk, people will move onto the Cloud
  4. Question re standards & data portability
    • This is happening
    • But there was advice about designing for portability when building applications
    • Cloud is a bigger challenge for those with legacy applications
  5. Question about where Cloud computing is actually being used
    • Competition between providers will mean that Councils, Insurance companies etc. will drive Cloud use – because of the economics & increased speed that can be gained
    • A panel member made a point about each successive generation of hardware taking time to adopt – e.g. using Oracle on a mini-computer vs. IBM DB2 on mainframe; then PCs – now Cloud
  6. Question about the threat from Microsoft re Azure
    • You want people to talk to when you have issues & problems;
      • large providers will become like telephone companies – you can’t get through to anyone when you need help
    • MS “will only offer MS apps”
    • Paul Watson said that he already uses Azure: with Amazon Web Services, you can do what you want, but there’s no help; Azure provide infrastructure
    • Simon Davies from Microsoft said
      • The strategy for Azure is to open up so that users can run what they like – e.g. Ruby, Perl, Python etc.
      • Difference between Force.com and Azure: different level in the stack
  7. Question: “if I was a VC, where should I invest” [the questioner being a VC ;-)]
    • Move up the stack to the Applications
    • Potential to make money at each level of the stack
      • Just don’t go for pure play IaaS!
    • People who succeed will be people who fill gaps
      • People who can get data in and out of the cloud, provde backup
      • Remember, there are no transactions in the Cloud, people can delete their own data – watch out for this!
  8. Question about how to match up cloud computing with business imperatives
    1. Watch out for business users by-passing the IT Department for the Cloud!
    2. Don’t be fearful of the cloud; don’t focus on IT, focus on the business
  9. There was a question about the 3rd Sector, and how it could use the Cloud
    • The advice was to explore tools like Zimbra, Google Apps etc.
      • I.e. these are ready-made applications which reside in the Cloud

<shameless plug>I made a pitch at the end for participants to consider buying a ticket for Thinking Digital and the Connect North East security conference.</shameless plug>

Technorati Tags: ,,FlexiScale,,CloudSoft,,Aserver,emailcloud,,KnowledgeIT,,,,,,,,googls apps,cloud camp,,rozmic
  • Hi Justin, it was good to see you at cloud camp on monday night, at the notes on the questions and answers are great. I have been thinking about it a bit since and i'm still not sure that i fully understand the implications. Here are a few thinks to think about:

    If you are deploying all your data to the cloud, and spinning up server instances all over the place, now does this affect the networking model? ie are you still using active directory to control your users computers sites and services? And where does anti virus and maleware fit in? Then there is the whole area of licencing, if your creating hundreds of new servers on the fly how are they being licensed does it still use the per seat or per server appoach. even if your not using microsoft servers and services surely there'll be licenses for anti virus, back up etc.

    When we talk about “the cloud” are we talking about a single cloud or many fluffy little clouds, ie would i use amazon to store my files and cloudmail to provide my email and someone else to supply my sql and someone else for my cms and if this is the case how do i back all of this up, do i have lots and lots of little back up all over this cloud.

    And the final thing to leave you with is do we have enough people with the skills to do all this? As an IT manager of some years, i have a very good understanding of core It, backup, disaster recovery, and a little knowledge of Api's and web development,but i'm not entirely sure that most IT staff would have all of the skills required to do all of the tricky bits to make this seemless to their end users, and i don't think many sme's could afford to get an engineer in everytime it needs a tweek.

    It looks very exciting though and i guess that there is no stopping it, so may as well get stuck in and give it a go.

  • David – er, yes quite. V. good points, and well made!

    A market opportunity to answer these questions if ever I saw one ;-)

  • Check out Ross Cooney's post about Cloudcamp North East.

    Also, fyi some photos by David Coxon of the night… :-)

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