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.
Cisco, with its Unified Computing System servers, and its partners, such as VMware and EMC, is moving into a position to become a cloud component supplier. But Tucker warned in our December interview: "If you don't put the parts together right, you won't get the benefits of cloud computing. You need an architecture." Sounds like a theme for a Cloud Connect address.

Another interesting speaker will be Randy Bias, founder and CTO of Cloudscaling, which has built out three clouds for KT, the Korean telecom company.

Bias is likely to bring a harder-edged theme to the show than just confidence in the future of cloud computing. He too didn't want to disclose his "punchline," but said he'd been asked to answer, "What are the myths of the enterprise cloud?" In a telephone interview, he responded bluntly that, "The myth is there is such a thing as the enterprise (or private) cloud." Most people who are delivering IT as a service say they've got one. "But Amazon and Google are doing far more than delivering IT as a service," he said.

They've done far more than just virtualize the data center or improve their economies of scale. Amazon and Google have learned how to build out, then deliver "horizontal" services that scale up to meet the needs of more customers without the service provider needing to add more staff to manage that delivery. In his talk, Bias will describe how data centers in some ways resemble a single business' electrical generator or, at best, a neighborhood utility plant. "Cloud computing equals the nuclear power plant. It's a different tool on a different scale," he said.

In addition to the three KT clouds that it built in Korea, Cloudscaling announced on Jan. 31 that it had finished a cloud storage service for a big ISP customer based on OpenStack’s Swift object storage system. It's the first commercial deployment of Swift outside Rackspace. The firm is turning into an OpenStack implementation pioneer and Bias will have something relevant to say to those thinking about implementing the private cloud.

Indeed, OpenStack is likely to be on the mind of Rackspace's Andy Schroepfer as well, since Rackspace founded the open source project with NASA and has been a leading organizer of the project. It's serving as a common platform for would-be cloud service providers and may yet give Rackspace a leg up in its competition with Amazon Web Services.

Other speakers include Yahoo's Dr. Todd Papaioannou, who among other things oversees the ongoing work on Yahoo's version of Apache's Hadoop. Yahoo is recognized as having a leading production implementation.

I recently had lunch with James Staten, Forrester Research's cloud analyst. He's a speaker also and I know that he's keeping an eye on cloud startups as well as established players. Speaking of startups, another speaker is Willem Van Biljon, part of what I call the South African cloud brain trust, which includes Biljon's fellow EC2 architect, Chris Pinkham.

Netflix's Kevin McEntee, VP of systems engineering, is a speaker, as is IBM's Cloud Labs director Willy Chiu. I once asked Chiu in passing if there was an IBM Power cloud in the offing. He answered "Yes," but the Research Triangle Park service that IBM offers is based on x86 servers. When I get to Cloud Connect, I think I will ask again. Maybe that massive IBM-designed cloud center in China outside Beijing is going to be studded with Power servers.

The conference debuts with a day of workshops March 7 at the Santa Clara, Calif., Convention Center, followed by three days of speakers and sessions, running through March 10.


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See all stories by Charles Babcock

Charles Babcock is an editor-at-large for InformationWeek.