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SYS-CON's 1st International Cloud Computing Conference & Expo: Show Report

Cloud computing is only about 700 days old; that gives a lot of vibe and a lot of fresh community spirit

Dmitry Sotnikov's Blog

Overall, very exciting times, and a great event put together by the folks at SYS-CON! There was a lot of excitement and optimism throughout the event. As someone put it: cloud computing is about 700 days old. That means that there are a lot of arguments about definitions, and where things are going, and so on. And that also gives a lot of vibe and a lot of fresh community spirit.

Below are my notes from all the sessions I attended at the last week’s Cloud Computing Expo 2008 on:

A few general comments on the conference.

First and foremost, cloud computing is happening. There was a lot of excitement and optimism throughout the event. And frankly this was quite contrasting to the SOA keeping talking about whether SOA is getting anywhere, how to justify SOA projects, whether it is a journey or a destination, and so on.

This was a vendor event. I’ve met very few actual IT guys coming to the conference to learn more about their options. The vast majority of attendees were system integrators, plus some hosters, and venture capitalists trying to figure out how they make money on the trend.

The whole space is very young. As someone put it: cloud computing is about 700 days old. That means that there are a lot of arguments about definitions, and where things are going, and so on. And that also gives a lot of vibe and a lot of fresh community spirit.

A lot of vendors trying to redefine what they are doing as cloud computing or find a cloud computing game within their technology. Obviously all hosting vendors are now cloud vendors, VMware is a cloud company, rPath is providing cloud virtual appliances, IBM is setting up clouds for customers, Cisco is giving everyone with the networks they need and so on. It takes time and effort to figure out what is real and what is hype. Next year the hype will probably just keep growing making this task even harder.

We are mostly at the infrastructure level on the way to platform and management. If you think about what kind of cloud services can be there, the lowest level is infrastructure: you get the ability to run your virtual machines in someone’s datacenter (think Amazon EC2). Then, moving up the stack we have Platform-as-a-Service where instead of direct access to VMs you get the ability to submit your application code and let the platform do the rest (think Google App Engine). And finally, we have Software-as-a-Service - precanned applications which you just use and maybe somewhat customize for yourself (think Salesforce.com).

By far most of the sessions I attended were at the infrastructure level. At the most you would hear a pitch of managing that infrastructure more efficiently, or having some kind of templates, or pre-built solutions you could use.

I expect things to start changing as all these companies start trying to move up the value chain and provide more platform/services to differentiate from competition. In a sense you already see that with Microsoft’s Windows Azure which is somewhere between infrastructure and platform.

Amazon is by far the current leader. There’s no one even close. Everyone integrates with Amazon. All value-add services are provided for Amazon first and then maybe for others. Someone was saying that Amazon’s Web-Services APIs might easily simply become the new x86 instruction set of cloud computing.

Everyone is talking about not getting locked in. And everyone is pitching that only if you use their APIs or their machine/file formats - then you will become independent of the hoster or someone else. Basically avoiding one dependency by accepting another.

Overall, very exciting times, and a great event put together by the folks at SYS-CON!

More Stories By Dmitry Sotnikov

Dmitry Sotnikov is VP of Cloud at WSO2, building the cloud business for this leading middleware provider. Check out the WSO2 Cloud platform at http://CloudPreview.WSO2.com

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