Structure 09 - Cloud Computing Is Here To Stay And Grow

I was invited as a guest blogger to Structure 09 - a day long event by GigaOM focusing on cloud computing. It was a great event with an incredible speaker line-up of thought leaders in the domain of cloud computing. The panel and keynote topics included persistence on the cloud, hosting web apps on the cloud, infrastructure design etc. I won't attempt to summarize everything that I saw and heard, instead here are some impressions:

Solving interoperability with Open Source: A founding developer of Wordpress, Matt Mullenweg, strongly advocated open source for the cloud for two reasons. The first reason is to achieve interoperability and the second is to ensure the business continuity when certain vendors cease to exist. As I have argued before there is a strong business case for open source on the cloud. It was great to see the reaffirmation that other thought leaders feel the same way.

Operational excellence: Javier Soltero, CTO of Management Products at SpringSource, emphasized the operational excellence as a key differentiation for a company to achieve a competitive advantage. Vijay Gill, a senior manager Engineering and Architecture at Google, also feels the same way. He believes that having the lowest cost platforms capable of providing good enough service is going to be a competitive advantage for the companies. For good software, you need great engineers – and most companies aren’t set up to do that. The technological challenges can be solved but it is the smart people writing smart code that will provide the competitive advantage to the cloud infrastructure companies.

Vertical clouds: We are likely to see more and more cloud offerings that are optimized for the vertical functionality e.g. run your Ruby apps on the cloud, analytics on the cloud, storage on the cloud etc. The IT should focus on becoming a service provider against merely a cost center. Chuck Hollis, CTO of Global Marketing, EMC Corporation believes that if IT does not embrace the cloud technology stack, they will most likely become an organization that manages the consolidation of all the cloud services. James Lindenbaum, co-founder and CEO of Heroku, emphasized that the developers should focus on core - what they are really good at and not worry about how the code will scale on the cloud. The bad code is bad code regardless of where it runs.

Hybrid cloud: The debate between private and public cloud continued. The proponents of the public cloud such as Greg Papadopoulos, CTO of Sun Microsystems, argued that most public clouds are run more securely than most private enterprise clouds. I completely agree. One of the ideas that was pitched is to have SEC force the public companies to put their data on the cloud. If, for compliance reasons, the data needs to be retrieved the government has a better shot at retrieving this data from a public cloud against a private and proprietary system that could potentially be sabotaged. The proponents of the private cloud such as Michael Crandell, CEO and founder of RightScale, cited security as a barrier and suggested approaches such as silo clouds that are dedicated for a given customer that do not share data with other customers.

I believe that hybrid deployments are here to stay. Successful cloud and SaaS vendors will be ones who can create seamless experience for the customers and end users from top to the bottom of the stack such that the customers still retain their current on-premise investment, keep their data that they don't want on the cloud, and significantly leverage cloud for all their other needs.

It was a lot of information packed into one day event. However on the lighter side Om's conversation with Marc Benioff included Marc poking fun at Oracle and Microsoft. Marc is witty and he has great sense of humor. Check out his conversation:

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