Oct. 1, 2008 SDF Cloud Computing 2

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On October 1, 2008 at TechMart in Santa Clara, SDF hosted
“Cloud Computing and Beyond: The Web Grows up (finally)”. Several industry leaders and startups discussed the future of creating and running applications on the web and accessed by a local device. Will they be cheaper or even free compared to desktop or mainstream IT software? If enough people adopt it does it become “mainstream”?Text from DJCline.com

The battle for controlling data shifts back and forth in historical cycles. In the 1960s people accessed mainframes from computer terminals. The applications they ran and the data they used were stored some other place, usually a clean room in the same building. By the 1980s personal computers stood alone and data was transferred by slow modem connections. The rise of the web in the 1990s led to a mix of network computing and desktop computing. The past decade has seen the rise of software as a service. The network connections are now so fast that it doesn’t matter if the data is stored in a closet down the hall or a server farm on the other side of the planet. Cloud computing is the idea of moving information quickly across any kind of network.  Text from DJCline.com

The sheer amount of data we generate demands this kind of flexibility. Individuals and companies seldom back up their data. Putting it out on clouds makes sure it is not vulnerable to local catastrophe and still available. If you offer an application or service online and a million customers suddenly want to use it, clouds can help you scale up to demand. Of course, you will have to pay for this and that is where all these companies hope to make money.Text from DJCline.com

James Staten of Forrester Research gave the opening keynote. Cloud computing is a pool of highly scalable abstracted infrastructure hosting specific customer applications billed by how much is used. It drives companies to get products quickly to market under budget. If it fails, try something else. If it works, then starting planning and globally scale it fast in the cloud. The old IT CIO restrictions are circumvented if they exist at all. This appeals to start-ups, gaming, entertainment, small business and now enterprises.Text from DJCline.com

An example of the advantages is story of the Times Machine. The New York Times wanted readers to be able to search their archives going back 150 years. Internally it would take seven months and cost millions. The archivist went to Amazon EC2 and did it in a day and costing only $240.Text from DJCline.com

Bill Grosso of Twofish moderated panelists Oren Michels of Mashery, Tim Schigel of Sharethis, Chris Richardson of Cloud Tools and David Weekly of PBWiki. They discussed the “Users’ Views of Utility Computing and Application Scenarios”. They rent space as they build an application. Venture capital is now spent on taking care of customers and not buying equipment or hiring system administrators.Text from DJCline.com

Lew Tucker of Sun gave the second keynote. Utility computing is paying only for what you need. Software as a service is an application offered through multi tenancy like Salesfore.com of GoogleApps. Platform as a service lets developers build in the cloud like Facebook or Google App Engine. Infrasructure as a service offers basic computing services like Amazon AWS or Mosso. He recommended Nicholas Carr’s book The Big Switch showing how infrastructure becomes a commodity through broader distribution to a larger market. Now everyone has access to enormous computing power, not just large organizations. The idea that a company has to have its own IT department will be replaced by cloud computing accessed by a web API.Text from DJCline.com

Chris Preimesberger of E-week moderated panelists Trae Chancellor of Salesforce.com, Daniel Druker of Intacct, Sanjog Gad of SAP, Praful Shah of RingCentral and Rajen Sheth of Google. They discussed “The Enterprise Perspective: Challenges and Opportunities”. The cloud is not going away but growing. They don’t feel locked in to a subscription service the way you would with proprietary software and hardware. Negotiate strong agreements with options to move your data out if you have to. Build your stack so it will work anywhere. Eventually cloud computing will percolate from individuals and small businesses to enterprises. Text from DJCline.com

John Keagy of GoGrid gave a vendor perspective on cloud service provision. You don’t need to buy hardware or software. Their web based portal and API offers Windows and Linux servers, full root administrator access and the option to connect SSH or RDC. There is an economy of scale in a shared platform.Text from DJCline.com

David Brown of AMR Research moderated panelists Edgard Capdevielle of Nirvanix, Stu Charlton of Elastra, Alan Chhabra of Egenera and Jason Hoffman of Joyent. They discussed “Crawl/ Walk / Run: How to get up to speed on clouds”. Clouds disrupt but drive standardization up the stack to build better applications. Costs are so low, the capacity so high and it is so easy to use that it cannot be ignored. User’s lives may be easier but there will be more pressure on providers to be able to scale up around the clock. The cloud forces companies to rethink basic business processes not just IT.

Dr. Jayashree Subrahmonia of IBM gave the third keynote. CEOs and CIOs are worried about IT operating costs and using their infrastructure at full capacity. They are also concerned about security but still serve customers. Mobile computing drives the demand for cloud computing with large numbers of customers wanting service at the same time. Text from DJCline.com

Adam Lashinksy of Fortune magazine moderated panelists Tim Guleri of Sierra Ventures, Lars Leckie of Hummer Winblad, Richard See of Mitsui Ventures, Andy Vitus of Scale Venture Partners and John Vrionis of Lightspeed Venture Partners. They discussed “VC Panel: What is the Investment Landscape?” Considering the current market instability it would be cautious. There may already be a cloud bubble with too many companies chasing too few dollars. Husband your company’s resources and watch expenses for at least the next year. A cloud solution that saves money will make money.

Russ Daniels, Hewlett Packard gave the final keynote on the whole range of cloud customers from enterprise to individuals. The impact of the cloud will be as important as the introduction of the personal computer. Run the numbers and see if it is worth the cost but see if you gain market share and profitability.Text from DJCline.com

Dave Nielsen and Sam Charrington closed the event with topics developed from Cloudcamp.Text from DJCline.com

In the end I am still concerned about relying solely on the cloud. The bubble may burst when people cannot easily move their data from cloud to another.
Another sign might be when there a hundred companies and none of them are profitable.The real turning point may be when the pendulum swings back from distributed to local data. People want to control their data whether it is on their own equipment or out on some network. Text from DJCline.com

Khol Vinh of The New York Times said in his October 15, 2008 article “A Cloud and a Prayer” that the volatility we see in the financial market could carry over into the IT space. He thinks it prudent to back up and mirror your files so you can continue to operate if your provider goes away. Having all your proprietary information and business in a cloud may not be a good idea if it rains.  Text from DJCline.com

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Copyright 2008 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

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