Infrastructure // PC & Servers
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6/3/2008
11:52 AM
David Berlind
David Berlind
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Meet Me In Boston On June 9 For A Free 'Evening In The Cloud'

While there's no shortage of events that you can attend to find out more about the various Internet-based substitutes for the solutions you might normally run on your own servers or in your own data centers, there's no event where the question "Can you run all of your IT in the cloud?" is being asked. That's the public conversation that I and other CIOs and IT pros will be having with Amazon, Google, and Salesforce.com at this coming Monday's free tech meetup in Boston. I'm calling it an

While there's no shortage of events that you can attend to find out more about the various Internet-based substitutes for the solutions you might normally run on your own servers or in your own data centers, there's no event where the question "Can you run all of your IT in the cloud?" is being asked. That's the public conversation that I and other CIOs and IT pros will be having with Amazon, Google, and Salesforce.com at this coming Monday's free tech meetup in Boston. I'm calling it an "Evening in the Cloud" and you're invited to come, join the conversation, network, and enjoy a few cocktails on me. Details are below.One year ago, there were a great many technical (and legitimate) objections to cloud-based computing. Judging by the comments on my recent post about throwing away your e-mail servers, some IT pros are still unwilling to consider the idea. But the major proponents and providers of cloud-based computing such as Adobe, Amazon, eBay, Google, NetSuite, and Salesforce.com and others who are committed to the idea of the cloud have been hard at work to overcome those objections with all sorts of innovations.

For example, there are plenty of off-the-shelf or canned solutions available in the cloud, like the customer relationship management offerings from Salesforce.com and NetSuite. But one of the major objections to going "all-cloud" had to do with those custom applications running behind corporate firewalls. How do you migrate those to the cloud if the cloud itself isn't programmable?

Six to 12 months ago, that was a legitimate objection. Though far from perfect (or "shipping" status), today, Google, Salesforce, and Amazon all have their answers to that problem. Google, for example, is testing its Google App Engine: a scalable infrastructure that can host Python-based custom applications. Salesforce.com now has Force.com, a fully-programmable cloud-based platform that gives developers access to most of the same underlying functionality (databases, business process automation, security, etc.) that the canned app salesforce.com itself relies on. And for those that prefer to start with bare metal but that also want to be able to scale without having to build out their own data centers (and don't want to have to commit to annual hosting contracts with managed hosting companies), there's Amazon's Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) and Simple Storage Service (S3).

The big three cloud players aren't alone. Similar cloud based platforms from smaller players are springing up all over the Web -- all targeting the same audience: businesses that are ready to migrate their insourced applications to the cloud, where the benefits of multitenancy, such as scalability on-demand and reduced cost (due to infrastructure sharing) can be had. Companies that come to mind are RightScale, Brightbox (a Ruby on Rails platform hosting service), Heroku (another Ruby platform hosting service), and Bungee Labs, a sponsor of this coming Monday's meetup that offers cloud-based (in the browser) application development tools as well as a platform in the cloud to run the apps built with those tools.

Between the canned services that already existed in the cloud (everything from search to e-mail to CRM), recent innovations (to handle the primary objections), the ability to composite applications by mashing what's already out there in the cloud into something new and different that's just for you, and changing attitudes, have we crossed the tipping point? Or is it still too hard to really go all-cloud?

To answer that question, we're going to emulate a giant customer visit on Monday night in Boston on the eve of one of the industry's premier enterprise IT events: Enterprise 2.0. Doing the "visiting" on stage will be executives from Amazon, Google, and Salesforce.com. Being "visited" on the customer side, we have:

  • Carolyn Lawson, CIO, California Public Utilities Commission
  • Mary Sobiechowski, CIO and Global IT Director, Sudler & Hennessey
  • Richard Mickool, Executive Director and CTO, Information Services Northeastern University
  • Richard Mark Soley, Chairman/CEO, Object Management Group

Also in the room, listening in like a fly-on-the-wall (and eventually getting a chance to participate in the conversation)? Hopefully you.

The format is simple. Amazon, Google, Salesforce (and perhaps one other) will get to make their case for why they think its time for the customers to consider going all-cloud with their IT. And like any real customer visit in some conference room taking place behind closed doors, the customers get to feed back with questions and comments, all with the goal of constructively moving the conversation forward. They, the customers, will be there with an open mind and, in some cases, ready, willing, and eager to move to the cloud. But, like any IT pro, they have their concerns and will be looking to get them addressed during our customer visit.

After about an hour of vibrant discussion between the vendors and the customers on stage, we'll open up the questions to you and other members of the audience for about 30 minutes. After that, we'll have a reception for about 60 to 90 minutes during which the folks on stage will jump down and join the rest of the audience for some shoulder-rubbing, networking, and more demonstrations over cocktails.

We have limited seating available at this meetup (approximately 250), which is why, if you're interested in attending, we're taking registrations online on a first-come, first-served basis. As of the time I published this blog post, we had about 170 RSVPs. So, there's still a bit of room left if you want one of the remaining spots. Most of the details are online, but here are the tops of the waves:

Evening in the Cloud Invitation

DISCLOSURE: Enterprise 2.0 and Evening in the Cloud are productions of the Live Events Group of TechWeb (the parent company to InformationWeek). In addition to being an Editor-At-Large with InformationWeek, David Berlind is also a General Manager with the Live Events Group as a result of his founding role in other TechWeb-produced events such as Mashup Camp, Startup Camp, and Energy Camp. Amazon, Google, and Salesforce.com (all mentioned in this blog), and Bungee Labs are sponsors of Evening in the Cloud.

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