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Conversation with One of CloudNOW’s Top 10 Women: Lori MacVittie

I’ve had the good fortune to have known and worked with Lori for almost 7 years

F5 Sr. Technical Marketing Manager Lori MacVittie received CloudNOW’s prestigious Top 10 Women in Cloud award for her exceptional contributions to the cloud community. CloudNOW, an executive consortium of the leading women in cloud computing, presented the award during UBM Tech’s Cloud Connect—the premier technology event for cloud computing.

I’ve had the good fortune to have known and worked with Lori for almost 7 years and sat down with her to talk about cloud, convergence and application delivery.

Peter: First, Congratulations Lori on yet another award. If I remember correctly, this is the 2nd year in a row that your contributions, accomplishments, and thought leadership has been recognized by CloudNOW. How’d you get so smart?

Lori: I don’t necessarily think it’s being so smart myself that’s key, it’s being afforded a platform on which smart ideas – many of which are instigated by other, very smart people – can be promoted that made that happen. I won’t say I don’t have smart ideas myself, but there’s so many talented folks in the industry that it’s more a collaborative, bouncing-off-each-other process that’s critical to coming up with ways to solve new challenges.

Peter: Public, private, hybrid. Is there a clear cloud choice or organizations or does it depend on what they are trying to accomplish? What are the advantages and pitfalls of each?

Lori: Wow, that’s at least one if not two or three blog posts right there. I think it depends on what the organization is trying to achieve and what kind of applications are critical to achieving those goals. The reality is that hybrid is going to dominate the cloud landscape by virtue of sheer necessity. There’s too many needs that can’t be met by just public or just private that require a more integrated, business-driven approach to deployments. That means hybrid is going to win, hands down.

Peter: Some in the industry believe the term ‘cloud’ is starting to get a bit cliché due to potential overuse, misuse and abuse. What do you think? Has it lost some luster?

Lori: Did it ever have luster other than as link-bait? Seriously, like any new technology market the term is overused, hyped, and abused. It means different things to different people and more confusing, to different markets. It still has power, but it is losing its status as technology darling du jour to more up and coming technology that has infrastructure bling, like SDN.

Peter: Cloud Standards. The IEEE Cloud Computing Initiative has originated two working drafts (P2301 and P2302); The Cloud Security Alliance works together to define best practices in cloud security; the Open Cloud Consortium supports the development of standards among others. First, will there ever be standards and if so, what will that provide to both customers and providers? Will standards be the final keystone for those waiting in the wings?

Lori: Standards for what? Integration? Bridging? Brokering? Cloud management? We are so far away from standardization of cloud anything at this point that we’re going to have to wait and see. When customers start demanding support for a standard X or Y or Z as table stakes for being considered as a viable provider, then we’ll start seeing real movement around those standards. So in the meantime, we’re going to continue to see each provider and vendor offering up their own “standards” and maneuvering with partnerships and support of APIs. When we start seeing accepted – even de facto – standards around cloud we’ll know it’s reached maturity.

Peter: In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges facing cloud computing? Security? Availability? The misuse of the term? Standards? Confusion?

Lori: Integration and portability. There is no such thing as “cloud security”, only network, application and data security applied in the cloud or in the data center. :-) The biggest challenge facing cloud is that it requires a new way of looking at application deployment challenges and ultimately that trickles down to how we architect at the network, its topology. That’s a bigger challenge than simply giving up control of infrastructure; after all, we did that when we adopted managed hosting. Cloud is forcing us to rethink how we architect from the network up, and that’s harder than anything else because it’s a paradigm shift (there’s a phrase we haven’t used in a decade or so, but it’s the one that fits best – and probably better now than it did then).

Peter: You presented on two topics at Cloud Connect – ‘App Delivery in the Cloud’ and ‘Managing Hybrid Cloud’. Can you give a synopsis of each?

Lori: Let’s see. On the first one: successfully delivering applications and managing access in a cloud computing environment is about balancing control with flexibility: integrating processes and leveraging the power of standards like SAML to extend enterprise governance over cloud deployed applications while distributing control into the cloud to enable consistent control over delivery policies. Managing hybrid cloud. It’s all about integration. Integrating processes, integrating networks, integrating resources. Once you do that, the management is easy. Okay, maybe not easy but easier, which is a good thing considering the state of infrastructure integration today.

Peter: How does some of these new technologies like SDN (Software Defined Networking) and NFV (Network Function Virtualization) fit into the Cloud equation?

Lori: SDN is really about enabling elasticity for scale and flexibility in topology at the network layer. In that respect, it affords cloud a very dynamic foundation on which to deploy value-added services at the application layer that can address some of the challenges with cloud noted above with respect to thinking differently about how we deploy infrastructure services in a topologically-hampered environment. NFV continues to be of most interest to service providers, and their goal is fast, flexible, programmability in the network that enables rapid development and deployment of new services that increase ARPU by offering new value and competitive advantages. As far as cloud goes, NFV could be layered atop SDN to provide a layer of elasticity and dynamic provisioning for value added services, but right now service providers are more concerned about services than they are the core network (because they rearchitected that when IMS and similar architectures became popular).

Excellent stuff, Lori! Thanks! You can connect with and follow Lori on DevCentral or Twitter

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More Stories By Peter Silva

Peter Silva covers security for F5’s Technical Marketing Team. After working in Professional Theatre for 10 years, Peter decided to change careers. Starting out with a small VAR selling Netopia routers and the Instant Internet box, he soon became one of the first six Internet Specialists for AT&T managing customers on the original ATT WorldNet network.

Now having his Telco background he moved to Verio to focus on access, IP security along with web hosting. After losing a deal to Exodus Communications (now Savvis) for technical reasons, the customer still wanted Peter as their local SE contact so Exodus made him an offer he couldn’t refuse. As only the third person hired in the Midwest, he helped Exodus grow from an executive suite to two enormous datacenters in the Chicago land area working with such customers as Ticketmaster, Rolling Stone, uBid, Orbitz, Best Buy and others.

Bringing the slightly theatrical and fairly technical together, he covers training, writing, speaking, along with overall product evangelism for F5’s security line. He's also produced over 200 F5 videos and recorded over 50 audio whitepapers. Prior to joining F5, he was the Business Development Manager with Pacific Wireless Communications. He’s also been in such plays as The Glass Menagerie, All’s Well That Ends Well, Cinderella and others. He earned his B.S. from Marquette University, and is a certified instructor in the Wisconsin System of Vocational, Technical & Adult Education.