Cloud // Infrastructure as a Service
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Charles Babcock
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Cloud Connect To Tackle Challenges For The Enterprise

The second-annual event will bring together strong advocates of cloud computing from Amazon, Cisco Systems, Rackspace, eBay, Cloudscaling, and others for a four-day conference.

Werner Vogels, CTO of Amazon Web Services, and other leading advocates of cloud computing will be speaking at the second-annual Cloud Connect show, March 7 to 10 at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Silicon Valley. Whether the cloud has evolved into a secure and reliable adjunct to data center operations is likely to be a major theme of the conference.

In addition to Vogels, speakers include Lew Tucker, the former director of cloud computing at Sun Microsystems, now CTO of cloud computing at Cisco Systems; Andy Schroepfer, VP of enterprise strategy at what is generally conceded to be the number-two cloud infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) provider, Rackspace; Neal Sample, VP of architecture at eBay; and Randy Bias, CTO and founder of Cloudscaling.

You can find out more and register for the event here.

When I contacted Vogels' office, he said he is still working on his remarks and wasn't prepared to divulge any dominant theme or conclusion. But through a spokesman, he added that he plans to "talk quite a bit about our customers and some of the cool things they're doing with the services." Not too much of a surprise there.

If you look at how Amazon Web Services, Amazon's IaaS unit, keeps building out services, you get a sense of how EC2's infrastructure is going to evolve toward easier-to-use services, rather than remaining a hard-to-use computing platform that looks nothing like what you've got in-house.

For example, AWS' Route 53 domain name service simplifies management of the domain names you're using; it automatically -- regardless of scale required -- connects user requests to a TCP/IP address the requestor is seeking. The Web service was announced Dec. 6.

Elastic Beanstalk is an automated system that can take over the deployment and scaling decisions that used to be required of workload submitters. The submitters previously had to designate the virtual servers across which a workload was to be scaled. With Elastic Beanstalk, more servers like the one originally provisioned get built out to allow the application to scale horizontally without further intervention. The service, announced Jan. 19, currently works only with Java applications.

At some point in the future, Amazon will have enabled enough services to allow a workload, whether in Amazon's preferred AMI format or VMware's ESX Server format, to be automatically assigned to an appropriate virtual machine and managed until the task is completed. I hope Vogels, in his talk, sees fit to describe how IaaS will become more platform as a service (PaaS).

Another noted speaker is Lew Tucker, who organized Sun's initial cloud effort. After Sun was acquired by Oracle, he moved on (that is, after one interview with Larry Ellison, he moved on) to Cisco Systems, where he holds the new CTO post of cloud computing, reporting to CTO Padmasree Warrior.

When contacted, Tucker said: "I'll be looking at how things have evolved since John Gage and Bill Joy started talking about the 'Network is the Computer.'' I decided to call my talk: 'The Network is the Computer, Once Again.'

"With cloud computing we are seeing the emergence of a new network-based model of computing which turns everything into a service. This changes the way we think about designing applications, creates opportunities, and places new requirements on how we build and operate the underlying infrastructure," he said.

I think that means making the network a platform for the delivery of services, as Tucker told me in a mid-December interview. By that, he means different mobile devices, including your car, will each have its own IP address that the network platform can reach, delivering your desktop, your favorite applications, and your communications.

In addition, as "a true believer in cloud computing," he thinks cloud services will "go radically much larger in scale" than what we know today. Multi-tenancy will become the preferred way to run applications, where each application is meant to serve thousands of users concurrently, instead of being a method reserved to a few software-as-a-service providers, such as

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