Lew Tucker already had 20 years of software development and engineering under his belt when the cloud era rolled around. He was quick to recognize that his previous projects were pointing in the cloud's direction.
He had been CTO and VP of engineering at Radar networks, producer of the Twine social network and VP of the AppExchange at Salesforce.com. His big-company experience brought a different voice to the debate over cloud, one of experienced and toughened engineering that said cloud not only could be, but also should be the next wave of computing.
Tucker was CTO of cloud computing at Sun Microsystems in 2008-2010, a crucial period when Oracle acquired Sun, and where his depth of knowledge countered Oracle's fatuous putdowns of cloud computing. After the acquisition, Oracle CEO Larry Ellison interviewed Tucker; Tucker said it took only three minutes before both men had made up their minds. In that short time, Oracle lost one of the few spokesmen capable of rolling back the skepticism that Oracle would ever be serious about cloud computing, something that it's still reaching for as it reverses course and wades more deeply into the field.
Tucker is now CTO of cloud computing at Cisco Systems, a tireless advocate (and board member) for OpenStack and an ignorer of boundaries -- as long as the other party can talk about cloud computing. At the recent Cloud Expo, he ducked into a meeting room to pay his regards to Rich Wolski, head of the Eucalyptus open source project at the University of California at Santa Barbara. Eucalyptus might be painted as an OpenStack competitor, but in Tucker's eyes Wolski's simply another passionate cloud enthusiast. He does the same on the OpenStack board of directors, where he's part of the social cohesion that holds competing members together.