Clearing the Air on Cloud Services – Cloud User ’09 Conference in San Diego

Cloud interoperability and security drove passionate discussions among presenters and attendees at Cloud User ’09 in San Diego this week. A very good mix of professionals representing equipment vendors, cloud service providers, cloud software and systems developers, government, and the media rolled up sleeves, put egos aside, and drilled into issues that are impeding broad acceptance of cloud services.

The conference, sponsored by MarcusEvans, brought a lot of really interesting perspectives to the issues surrounding cloud provisioning, regulatory concerns, marketing, and the technology of cloud. The objective – determine a course of action in the cloud community to promote and provide confidence needed for the general information and communications (ICT) community to adopt cloud services.

Igor Edelman, representing a financial services company which is an early adopter of cloud computing (he’d prefer to keep the company confidential, however I can say I am a customer!), discussed his security concerns.

  • Where does your data actually reside? It is not enough for a financial institution to know data exists, it is critical they know exactly where it resides. This is a major roadblock in the financial community using cloud resources on a public or shared platform.
  • What additional measures can they takes?
  • Data encryption?
  • Dedicated network capacity?
  • Dedicated storage?

Cloud does free up valuable CAPEX and OPEX resources, and his company is using this as further justification to develop their enterprise cloud architecture.

Tim Crawford, from Vivo and Stanford University IT Operations gave a very good general introduction to issues concerning all potential cloud users, including misconceptions of what cloud is and can do for a company. One item Tim highlighted was the impact Internet will have on broad cloud adoption. However the majority of his presentation centered on cloud service interoperability.

To successfully integrate cloud capacity and resources over both the Internet and allow for potential migration of data, Crawford emphasized the need for “greater cross vendor integration, development of common cloud interface APIs, and development of cross-platform migration tools.” While this is a problem today, it is also an opportunity for companies to emerge and solve the cloud platform interoperability problem.

Finally, Crawford walked the audience through a very detailed roadmap on the process a company or organization should go through in planning, executing, and operating their cloud strategy. You can reach Tim at tim.crawford@vivoinc.com for more information on his cloud strategy visions.

Dell and IBM both walked through their roadmaps for cloud computing, with additional focus on the need for a thorough understanding of the benefits and shortfalls of cloud technologies. Riz Amanuddin from IBM outlined his vision of implementing cloud within an organization by walking through the main steps, which include:

  • Planning and preparing for cloud implementation
  • Testing and deploying cloud services through a scaled approach
  • Start with a couple non-critical projects
  • Open on-demand access to power users who can potentially benefit from having project driven capacity
  • Extend and evolve the platform as testing is passed, confidence is gained, and applications are made “cloud-friendly”

Riz also mentioned each organization should prepare an image library of cloud application templates, allowing users to quickly load applications, add resources, and discontinue individual instances of applications and resource when the requirement expires.

When preparing the organization’s cloud strategy, IT managers and planners consider:

  • Security (including ISO 27,000 security compliance)
  • Application and network latency
  • Application and network availability
  • Legal and regulatory compliance issues (HIPAA, Sarbanes-Oxley, etc)
  • System backup and recovery
  • Image and application licensing
  • VM sizing and planning
  • Storage requirements
  • The human element (training, ownership of cloud resources, organizational issues)

All fairly common sense business items, but all important to the success of any cloud (or other business) project.

Surendra Reddy from Yahoo gave a great presentation on Yahoo’s “Lessons Learned” in implementing Yahoo’s internal cloud. Surendra also walked through a very detailed process organization’s need to consider prior to doing their own internal cloud migration. Reddy provided very good statistics on the cost of internal cloud provisioning, and the cost of operating both cloud and dedicated application services within large data centers.

Both Surendra and James Urquhart (Cisco Systems) noted that cloud provisioning within the enterprise or organization should be through a common provisioning portal, with strong accounting and security. This is needed to ensure the IT group can properly account for who is accessing or initiating cloud applications, as well as supporting internal charge backs for ensuring good management of resources.

The topic of cloud’s impact on the environment came up during the data center and facility presentation (mine!), sparking a heated discussion on the value of green designs in both facility construction and deployment, as well as managing ICT resources. The panel went through Cap and Trade, alternative energy, proper use of mechanical and electrical design within the data center, as well as reviewing the concept behind metrics such as the Uptime Institute’s PUE (Power Utilization Effectiveness).

Many other topics discussed, many good debates and questions from a distinguished audience and group of attendees from all over North America and Europe. It was very interesting to hear different perspectives from Canadians and Europeans, as we are normally exposed to American thought leadership.

Bottom line, there are many, many very good people working hard on cloud issues. We know cloud and virtualization is here to stay, and the burden of producing a high quality, acceptable product is on the vendors, integrators, consultants, and thought leaders. This is complicated stuff, representing a major leap in technology, globalization, and business or organizational process. It is also a lot of fun!

 

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.

2 Responses to Clearing the Air on Cloud Services – Cloud User ’09 Conference in San Diego

  1. Mark Mac Auley says:

    Sounds like a fun time. As I was reading I couldn’t help but think is Cloud like Identity Management in that it’s more about process than technology…

  2. johnsavageau says:

    Yes, cloud is software, not hardware. The software developers can assist by designing and implementing process within the software structure.

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