Cloud Computing Discussion Matures at Structure 09 in San Francisco

Structure 08 was only a year ago, but it seems like an entire generation of discussion has passed in those short 12 months. Prior to Structure 08, Cloud Computing was not an industry household word. Now it is not only a word, but a concept that is gaining recognition and debate faster than any other comparable technology or service.

Structure 09‘s Theme was “Put Cloud Computing to Work.” Most of the keynote speakers and panelists set aside their marketing hats, and sunk their energy into reviewing the prior year’s advances in cloud technology, as well as looking into a future that recognizes the challenges and great opportunities of cloud computing.

“Last year cloud was something we talked about, now it is a strategy.” Om Malik, Founder, the GigaOM Network

Paul Sagan, CEO at Akamai (a very large global content delivery network/CDN) discussed topics related to metering cloud services, as well as hitting a strong note on the “green” qualities of cloud.

As cloud virtualizes servers and compute capacity, and makes individual compute resources “multi-tenant,” (multi-tenant refers to the concept of many applications from many different companies operating on a single, virtualized compute resource infrastructure), the requirement for power, cooling, and individual data cente3r construction is reduced, thereby reducing our “carbon footprint.”

Russ Daniels, CTO at HP, provided a great analogy on the evolution of computing .vs the evolution of the automobile.

In the early days of the assembly line, cars were all stamped out the same. Little or no difference existed between cars, with a world of automobiles where everything looked about the same.

“You were free to order any color of Model T you wanted, as long as the color you ordered was black.”

Computing went through a similar evolution, starting with time-sharing on mainframes, and moving on personal computers which were highly configurable. With cloud computing you get a standard infrastructure, which can handle an increasingly flexible number of applications. The main thing is that with cloud computing, you are able to gain much better economics from either your own enterprise infrastructure, or even better outsourcing into a public cloud service.

At some point everything will become a service.

“A world of information, opportunities, and experiences. From computing power to business processes, to interpersonal interactions. Delivered wherever, however, whenever you need it.” Russ Daniels, CTO HP

Another theme discussed during the conference was the idea that cloud computing, or the availability of cloud computing, allows us to think about problems, and solving problems differently. Clouds give problems solving resources that are not only scale independent, but also serve to user experiences from actual hardware functionality.

“Delegate things to people who are better than you. The average company has no business running their own servers.” Lew Moorman, Cloud and Strategy officer, Rackspace

One area of heated debates was the idea of specialty clouds, or community of interest clouds (COINs). Some panelists thought COINs were important, and allowed for better standards compliance (HIPAA, etc). Others thought that once you have created a COIN resource you can no longer refer to the infrastructure as a cloud infrastructure. Not resolved.

Other areas discussed at length included:

  • Cloud interoperability
  • Avoiding cloud applications and vendors who attempt to lock in users with proprietary applications and platforms
  • What, if any, is the opportunity for smaller cloud players
  • What happens when parts of a cloud fail – are there going to be SLAs?
  • What is the danger of “cloud washing,” or calling everything cloud to jump on the hype bandwagon

Mark Benioff, Chairman and CEO of SalesForce.Com gave a very powerful keynote speech on the topic of real-time systems. Citing examples such as Twitter, Benioff described a world where the actual data being sent could be anyplace in a distributed cloud. People on the streets of Iran, in natural or man-made disasters, anyplace where information needs immediate transfer to one or many people. Iran cannot block Twitter, because Iran does not know where to block Twitter.

Mark Mullenweg from WordPress discussed how a small idea was made very large, all without significant investment in any data center resources.

“The biggest mistake we made as a startup was buying servers

“All applications must be written with the intent of future residence on a multi-tenant cloud platform

“Don’t over-engineer with servers, as technology changes too fast and you will get stuck.” Matt Mullenweg, Founding developer, WordPress

This was another great conference, and I am sure the heated and healthy debates tabled during the conference will continue on until Structure 10 next year. Our industry needs the debate, and the outcome will be a better technology than we have today, in an industry that is here to stay.

Hats off to the GigaOM group


John Savageau, Long Beach

About johnsavageau
Another telecom junkie who has been bouncing around the international communications community for most of the past 35 years.

One Response to Cloud Computing Discussion Matures at Structure 09 in San Francisco

  1. Pingback: Matt Mullenweg and Marc Benioff Discuss Cloud Computing | Big Winner

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