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With Cloud Computing taking all the media attention, rapidly growing and generating so much hype no wonder that various industry events are starting to sprawl. Here’s my attempt to put together the schedule of the cloud computing conferences announced for 2009:

CloudCamp

MIX 2009March 18-20, Las Vegas – Microsoft’s key event on Azure and other web technologies.

The Experts Conference (TEC)March 22-25, Las Vegas and September 14-16, Berlin – Microsoft space deep-dive IT event with a lot of focus on cloud messaging and cloud identity management.

Cloud Computing Conference and ExpoMarch 30 – April 1, 2009New York – this is SYS-CON’s event, check out my notes from their previous event which took place in November 2008 in San Jose to get an idea of what to expect. As last year, it will coincide with Virtualization Conference so you will be able to pick the sessions to attend from both events.

Cloud Slam 2009 – Cloud Computing Conference – April 20-24, 2009virtual event over the internet.

Enterprise Cloud Summit 2009May 18-21, 2009Las Vegas – this one specifically has enterprise focus and will coincide with Interop.

2009.cloudviews.orgMay 28-29, 2009Oporto, Portugal

CloudWorld Conference & ExpoAugust 11-12, 2009San Francisco – this event is put together by IDG World Expo, CIO and CSO, and (as with both other events) it is co-located with Next Generation Data Center and OpenSource World.

CloudStorm – London, October 13th – receive in 100 minutes an update of the latest trends and products in Cloud Computing, followed by a mini expo and networking opportunity.

ARM techcon3, October 21-23 at the Santa Clara Convention Center – a new engineering-oriented conference with three design pavilions, one specifically called ‘Internet Everywhere’ with Cloud Computing as part of the conference sessions.

Cloud VISION 2009 – October 21st – Minneapolis, MN.

Cloud Computing Conference & Expo – 2 – 4 November – Santa Clara, CA.

Microsoft Professional Developers Conference (PDC) – November 17 – 19, 2009 – Los Angeles, CA – Expected launch of Windows Azure.

IGT2009 – The World Summit of Cloud Computing – December 2-3 – Israel.

Web 2.0 ii – 3-4 December – London.

Plus, obviously there will be a strong cloud angle at general events in specific segments such as TEC and TechEd in the Microsoft space, Google’s developer conferences, VMworld, and so on.

Did I miss any?

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I have posted my notes from all the sessions I attended at the last week’s Cloud Computing Expo 2008 on:

(By the way, I have just updated all three posts and added links to the session slides!)

Now it is time to share a few general comments on the conference.

First and foremost, cloud computing is happening. There was a lot of excitement and optimism throughout the event. And frankly this was quite contrasting to the SOA keeping talking about whether SOA is getting anywhere, how to justify SOA projects, whether it is a journey or a destination, and so on.

This was a vendor event. I’ve met very few actual IT guys coming to the conference to learn more about their options. The vast majority of attendees were system integrators, plus some hosters, and venture capitalists trying to figure out how they make money on the trend.

The whole space is very young. As someone put it: cloud computing is about 700 days old. That means that there are a lot of arguments about definitions, and where things are going, and so on. And that also gives a lot of vibe and a lot of fresh community spirit.

A lot of vendors trying to redefine what they are doing as cloud computing or find a cloud computing game within their technology. Obviously all hosting vendors are now cloud vendors, VMware is a cloud company, rPath is providing cloud virtual appliances, IBM is setting up clouds for customers, Cisco is giving everyone with the networks they need and so on. It takes time and effort to figure out what is real and what is hype. Next year the hype will probably just keep growing making this task even harder.

We are mostly at the infrastructure level on the way to platform and management. If you think about what kind of cloud services can be there, the lowest level is infrastructure: you get the ability to run your virtual machines in someone’s datacenter (think Amazon EC2). Then, moving up the stack we have Platform-as-a-Service where instead of direct access to VMs you get the ability to submit your application code and let the platform do the rest (think Google App Engine). And finally, we have Software-as-a-Service – precanned applications which you just use and maybe somewhat customize for yourself (think Salesforce.com).

By far most of the sessions I attended were at the infrastructure level. At the most you would hear a pitch of managing that infrastructure more efficiently, or having some kind of templates, or pre-built solutions you could use.

I expect things to start changing as all these companies start trying to move up the value chain and provide more platform/services to differentiate from competition. In a sense you already see that with Microsoft’s Windows Azure which is somewhere between infrastructure and platform.

Amazon is by far the current leader. There’s no one even close. Everyone integrates with Amazon. All value-add services are provided for Amazon first and then maybe for others. Someone was saying that Amazon’s Web-Services APIs might easily simply become the new x86 instruction set of cloud computing.

Everyone is talking about not getting locked in. And everyone is pitching that only if you use their APIs or their machine/file formats – then you will become independent of the hoster or someone else. Basically avoiding one dependency by accepting another.

Overall, very exciting times, and a great event put together by the folks at Sys-Con!

For details on what was covered at the event and links to the presentations see my previous notes.

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Here are my notes from the third day of SYS-CON’s Cloud Computing Expo (see also my notes from day 1 and day 2):

Peter Nickolov – President & CTO of 3tera – gave a pitch on how their technology (AppLogic) lets customers use cloud computing for high-availability solutions.

In a nutshell, Peter had an instance of SugarCRM which in his demo could fail-over from one datacenter to another. No changes in the code were required everything was set in the configuration of the application and AppLogic: he copied the application (front-end machines, back-end machines, load-balancers, etc.) to another cloud and set MySQL replication between them. Then when one application goes down their load-balancers detect unavailability of the primary site and give the IP address to the secondary one.

Peter said it took a couple of days to set up the demo. Obviously, SugareCRM was a relatively easy target because all the state information is in a single database, so MySQL replication was sufficient to have the application ready for the hot switch. But nevertheless this was a pretty impressive demo of how AppLogic’s building blocks can provide the additional layer of management and datacenter independence you might want to have with your hosters.

Andrew Comas from CORDYS gave a fairly boring general session on their Process Factory product – basically some kind of mesh-up editor for corporate use.

VMware had 2 sessions that day – by Dan Chu (Vice President of Emerging Products and Markets – which at VMware includes everything from overseeing the SMB space, to virtual appliances, to cloud computing) and by Preeti Somal (Vice President R&D Cloud Computing).

Basically, these were a pitch for the upcoming vCloud solution. The basic idea is actually very close to what we get from 3tera and rPath: the cloud is just a set of virtual machines, let’s make them standardized across the datacenters and provide administrators the ability to manage them as a system – and we got a great flexible solution without a hosting vendor lock-in.

vCloud is definitely more of a roadmap rather than a solution you can try:

VMware vCloud Roadmap

Today, they have their existing on-premise Virtual Infrastructure which a lot of us are using in our companies. In addition to that they have over a 100 hosting partners committed to providing this infrastructure in their datacenter – thus providing the flexibility to choose the hosting vendor.

Next year we will start getting into the second phase – so called “vCloud Services”: which basically means that we will get OVF-based way of grouping virtual machines into systems together with associated policies. And we might get a few sample solutions like the “flex capacity” scanario which was demoed during the VMWorld keynote in September.

Finally, they will provide full Virtual Center integration so you can manage your VMs in one console regardless of whether they are deployed in your network or by a hoster (they are calling that Federation) and more advanced architecture capabilities.

It is yet unknown how much will vCloud move beyond just VMs into additional services such as message queuing to VM interaction, storage and so on. They are saying that some of the infrastructure will be provided (for example load balancing) but not everything because they want to stick to creating the common platform which partners will use for the actual solutions.

My bet is that if they want to compete effectively against Microsoft’s Windows Azure and Amazon’s ever increasing set of Web Services they will have to move up the stack and provide more than the basic VM infrastructure. The question is how fast they can move into these new areas and how much the task of keeping all the datacenter partners happy will slow them down.

Their main bets are on application compatibility – just re-use any VMs you have today – and broad hosting partner range. They are also hoping that their vCloud APIs (RESTfull web services) will enable broad ISV ecosystem.

[Download VMware slides]

Erik Carlin from Rackspace‘s cloud computing division – Mosso talked about cloud standardization. This included:

  1. Common taxonomy: Software-as-a-Service (e.g. Salesforce), Platform-as-a-Service (e.g. Google App Engine) and Infrastructure-as-a-Service (e.g. Amazon EC2).
  2. APIs for storage, compute, network, and data. Right now, even when APIs are common across datacenters (e.g. with vCloud and 3tera) you still get locked into application vendor providing you these. Something like Red Hat’s Libvert abstract hypervisor API could help. Ruben from Enomaly pushing that through the Cloud Interoperability Forum.
    Other issues include identity (Erik thinks that OpenID has the biggest potential here while WS-* will probably be used by Microsoft only), and dependencies on particular cloud services.
  3. Pricing Complexity. How do you actually calculate the compute power provided and what is the Standard Processing Calculation unit? Work on virtualization benchmarks by VMware and Intel can help.
  4. Compliance issues: depending on the industry and application you might get to adhere to HIPAA, SAS70, PCI, or Safe Harbor (Rackspace is certified for the latter, European thing for datastorage).

Overall, common standards should provide for interoperability, lock-in avoidance, fail-over scenarios, better tools for all, cloud bursting and multi-cloud applications – which will enable positive network effects and increase the overall market for everyone.

[Download Erik’s slides]

Next we had Rich Wolski presenting his Eucalyptus project – an open-source clone of Amazon’s EC2 and S3.

Rich is absolutely amazing and his sessions are definitely a must-attend. He talked a lot about the architecture of their solution and how people are using it to try/test their EC2 solutions before deploying them with Amazon:

  • They currently have about 80 downloads a day. Download requires no registration so they do not know how exactly they are being used.
  • The biggest installation Rich knows includes 260 nodes.
  • He does not believe that Eucalyptus can be used to compete against Amazon – you still need people, datacenter infrastructure, know how to do machine rollover and so on
  • They currently have 5 engineers on the project and drop monthly releases. At the moment they do not accept external contribution but might start doing that in spring when they stabilize.

[Download Rich’s slides]

Finally we had Gerrit Huizenga – Solutions Architect from IBM and part of their cloud taskforce share his views on cloud computing. I was surprised that he was actually downplaying the role and newness of cloud computing as much as he could but I guess that is part of being from an established corporation with huge established software and consulting business.

[Download Gerrit’s slides]

That is it for my day to day notes. I will also publish my summary notes once I recover from all the recent traveling and catch up on my email.

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Here are my notes from the second day of SYS-CON’s Cloud Computing Expo (Day 1 notes here):

Day 2 started with a keynote by Amazon’s CTO – Dr. Werner Vogels. Werner is an amazing speaker, and his enthusiasm really gave a kick-start to the whole day. I would summarize his presentation as: “Yep, we invented cloud computing and we own the space.”

Werner talked about the history of Amazon’s Web Services with the basic idea of that being in line with their traditional platform approach they have been using in the commerce for ages, and also with a lot of IP, experience and investment that went into providing these massively scalable services as a cloud platform.

He gave multiple examples of start-ups such as Animoto and Mogulus which would not be possible without Amazon (because of huge upfront capital costs they would have to bare), companies able of cost-effectively accommodating pick demand (Indicars for their 3 races a year), and application vendors using EC2 for their online versions (Mathematica and MathLab) or demo environments (Splunk).

One interesting tidbit was that recently traffic generated by Amazon Web Services got well ahead of the traffic from Amazon’s store properties (including media sold by them online and so on), and the way the former is growing the latter will be virtually unnoticeable on the combined graph very soon.

He also pointed at how they are working on making the services more enterprise-friendly by providing:

  • Way to troubleshoot and eliminate failures,
  • Control over data/services geographical location,
  • Control over performance (with their content delivery platform – Cloudfront),
  • Availability (and adapted licensing) of all major OS and database platforms from Red Hat, Sun, Oracle, and Microsoft,
  • Ecosystem of ISVs and system integrators (such as Capgemini).
  • Efforts to ensure security (one medical app running on Amazon recently got HIPAA certified.)

David Young from Joyent talked about how they are making the cloud more open and user-centric. In the next 18-24 months Joyent plans to move from traditional and rather meaningless for cloud computing Service Level Agreements (SLA) to what he called Application Performance Level Agreement (like: “99% of my customers are getting 3 second responses 99% of the time”).

They are also working on providing frameworks to ensure:

  • Automatic scaling of applications they host (today this has to be developed by application creators themselves or they have to lose control and stick to Google App Engine). Basically, new stacks are needed for dynamic scaling, and they will provide something like Google App engine but without Python and Big Table requirements.
  • Ability to move between EC2 and other infrastructure providers.

He also mentioned that Twitter has licensed their technology to run the service in their own private cloud.

After that David Bemstein from Cisco gave his pitch of why networks still matter. He started from the premise of their customers keeping asking them about the right network infrastructure for private and public clouds, but then basically switched to Cisco’s efforts in the virtualization space like their Unified Fabric: lossless (datacenter) Ethernet and virtual layer of simulated fiber-channel on top on it.

More or less the only reference to the cloud after that were his words that Amazon does not provide secure network separation, network within Amazon is basically flat and other vendors could use Cisco technology to differentiate.

[Download David’s slides]

Serguei Beloussov from Parallels gave an overview of all the markets in which they compete (obviously everyone is familiar with their desktop virtualization for Mac) and also talked about the clouds. Basically they want to be the provider of choice for the automation for clouds: provisioning, workflow, chargeback, delegation to partners and users, and so on.

They are already fairly strong in the service providers space. For private clouds, they think that Microsoft will not be able to kill VMware (“Microsoft is not what it used to be, and VMware is not Netscape”) – so there will be competition which is good for them because they can have the heterogeneous automation game.

When asked about virtual appliances, Serguei basically said that they don’t have resources to be in that market today but they plan to get there within the next couple of years.

[Download Serguei’s slides]

Thorsten von Eicken from Rightscale talked about his vision of the way the cloud should be: no upfront costs, automated scaling (so pay for the average use not the peak), easy to use for dev and test (again with automation to give proper environment set up), easy to use for batch jobs – basically cloud computing wrapped into a layer providing full automation for provisioning and scalability.

RightScale provides some level of automation today: they do monitoring and have automated system which can start and stop new instances of your machines in the cloud as required. However, a lot of scalability needs to be baked into the application itself. He gave an example of Animoto which had to scale 10 times in 3.5 days in April 2008 when their widget became popular on Facebook, and how they had to fight various issues (like log files filling up the disks) as they were scaling up the service.

Thorsten also talked about how they want to make it easier to move (or failover) between providers. There can be a lot of small details in each infrastructure making the switch hard like: server persistence mechanisms, IP address mapping, load balancing, disk volume reassignment and so on. And obviously proprietary platform-specific APIs for storage, queuing and so one add to the problem. RightScale does not have a comprehensive solution for that now, but some of the issues can already be addressed by their machine templates.

RightScale already supports Amazon’s EC2, Rackspace, Flexiscale, and GoGrid rigth from their web UI. They are also very agile – for example, they have already added UI for Amazon’s CloudFront released just a few days ago.

Next we had a panel discussion with Geoff Brown, Ken North, Stefanos Damianakis, and Eric Samson.

They were talking on how there are some low hanging fruit which will go to the SaaS/Cloud world first like Email, disaster recovery, log storage, archiving and so on. Obviously Larry Ellison saying he is not getting the cloud came up. However, as panelists noted Oracle has had hosted versions of all their products for a long time (and has the offering in Amazon’s EC2 world) so he is probably simply looking for right business models to come.

They also talked on how mobile access can make SaaS model predominant, and in general how parts of systems may or may not be able to move into the cloud.

Finally, we had Javier Soltero who is the CEO at Hyperic fighting the myths of operations-free clouds.

His basic idea was that cloud is just a new platform to run applications. Which means that tools to manage them and provide monitoring, performance management, patch management, backup and recovery, budgeting and so one – are still required. In fact most likely new tools are required because the old ones do not support this new environment.

Folks at Hyperic has adapted their existing (open-source) web apps monitoring solution (HQ 4.0 launched last week) for Amazon: application is packaged as an Amazon machine, they are using Amazon’s storage, and their small agents to be placed on the actual application machines can communicate with the service. They also work in mixed deployments when part of the application is in EC2 and the other half – on premise.

They have also launched an interesting cloud availability service at www.cloudstatus.com to measure performance of various cloud engines. They currently do so by firing up and stopping Amazon machine instances but in the future plan to start collecting anonymous data their agents in customer applications.

This was a busy day! Stay tuned for my Day 3 report coming up next.

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This week I am at the moderately sunny and warm (can’t believe I was driving through a snow storm in Detroit just 3 days ago) San Jose at SYS-CON’s Cloud Computing Expo.

I intent to blog from here all three days – so if you could not make it to the event you can at least get the gist of it from cloudenterprise.info.

The history behind the event is pretty straight-forward. SYS-CON has been holding their International SOA World Conference for ages. As the hype behind SOA started to fade, they did what any company would do: try to diversify. Which led to this 14th SOA World becoming also the 4th International Virtualization Conference, and the 1st Cloud Computing Expo.

There’s still a lot of SOA content – especially in the general sessions – but, hey, we all know that SOA and Cloud Computing are not that far off each other. The difference is that SOA is pushed by consultants who are scaring everyone with talks about how everything needs to be re-architected, and Cloud guys are vendors like Amazon with solutions they want to be relatively easy and ready-to-use right away. And this seems to be making a lot of difference!

Anyways, this conference turned out to be a fairly big event with 3 days packed with more than 90 sessions in 7 tracks.

The conference kicked off with an SOA keynote. David Linthicum (SOA consultant and Infoworld SOA podcast host) tried to downplay the Gartner’s report on SOA disillusionment and link SOA to cloud computing (if you have SOA taking pieces of your application to the cloud is going to be easier), and then went on to some scary architecture diagrams.

After another general session on SOA we could finally get to the cloud tracks. Here are my notes from the sessions I attended.

Stuart Charlton from Elastra suggested his classification of cloud platform architectures and announced their upcoming (later this year) public release of markup languages to describe models and policies for software systems deployed into the cloud. Their goal is to bridge the gap between applications and infrastructure by providing what Stuart called Architecture-Aware Clouds. He also mentioned the upcoming support of Amazon and VMware, as well as their efforts to solve the licensing issues for the platforms used in their systems.

[Download Stuart’s slides]

Reuven CohenEnomaly – turned his session into an open discussion on the cloud and the hurdles in cloud computing adoption. The issues mentioned included:

  • Regulations not allowing data to be hosted outside the country in which a company operates,
  • Data and application portability to avoid vendor lock-in,
  • Guaranteed data destruction when no longer needed by the client,
  • Failovers between datacenters: external belonging to different vendors and internal on client’s premise,
  • Existing enterprise apps and how they would need to be re-architected for cloud scalability,
  • Certificate not revocation issues (e.g. am employee leaves the company and you need to revoke certificates – with Amazon that would kill your state, Nirvanix seems to allow you to handle that gracefully),
  • Amazon entering the content-delivery market (providing local replicas of your media around the globe for low latency access) with very competitive pricing, and Rackspace is partnering with LimeLight networks to also have a solution in the area.

Kevin HaarAppistry – was talking about how applications are now “all that matters”, and how proper architecture gives you access to any type of cloud: public, virtual private, or private.

Patrick Harr from Nirvanix talked about cloud storage and how it should become more cross-platform/cross-vendor, allowing customers to move data, form cross-vendor failover clusters and so on.

[Download Patrick’s slides]

Finally Billy Marshall from rPath – pitched the advantages of using their company’s virtual appliances in cloud computing. Basically, if you create your application machines as rPath appliances you can then save them to the machine format you need: VMware, or Hyper-V, or XEN, or KVM, or Amazon – and deploy anywhere you want. Plus, you get their versioning technology and incredibly small machine size. The biggest drawback is that they don’t provide anything beyond individual machines so if you need failover, load-balancing, queuing service, databases and so on – you are on your own implementing that as individual appliances. It was interesting to see them already having Amazon integration right in their online appliance management UI – with more platforms to be integrated in there next year.

[Download Billy’s slides]

Stay tuned for my Day 2 report tomorrow!

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The posts on this blog are provided “as is” with no warranties and confer no rights. The opinions expressed on this site are mine and mine alone, and do not necessarily represent those of my employer Jelastic or anyone else for that matter. All trademarks acknowledged.

© 2008-2012 Dmitry Sotnikov

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