Charles Engelke's Blog

July 20, 2010

OSCON Cloud Summit

Filed under: Uncategorized — Charles Engelke @ 1:31 pm

It’s my first day at OSCON, and I’m starting off with the Cloud Summit.  This post isn’t going to be real reporting or notes on the entire session.  Much of the material isn’t new to me, so I’m just going to record things new to me that I want to be able to remember and find more about later.

The introduction is by Simon Wardley, giving background and introducing the speakers and topics we’ll see the rest of the day.  He compares Cloud Computing to the evolution of electricity as a utility, and references Douglas Parkhill’s 1966 book The Challenge of the Computer Utility.

Mark Masterson is talking about cloud computing and the enterprise.  Risk is the likelihood of failure times the cost of failure.  Business has almost totally focused on the first term in the equation, trying to reduce the likelihood of failure, because they viewed the cost of failure is more or less a fixed amount.  But it’s not, and cloud computing is one thing that can reduce that cost.  If you focus on reducing the odds of failure, you have to lock in your decisions very early, and can’t explore some options.  If instead you accept a higher chance of failure, and pursue options that have a low cost of failure instead, you give yourself more options.  And you manage your risk just as well as the other way.  (This sounds a lot like agile development methodologies to me; don’t try so hard to not fail, instead fail early and cheaply and correct your path as you go.)

Subar Kumaraswamy of eBay is talking next, about Security and Identity in Cloud.  He starts with a slide showing a frightened manager, surrounded by scary orange dangers of using cloud computing: Compliance, Rogue Administrator, Governance, and many others.  But this is followed by a slide of a focused and contented developer, surrounded by soothing green virtues of cloud computing: iterative in hours, self service, empowered developers, and more.  The rest of his talk is focused on one key area: identity management.

On to John Willis.  “Cloudy Operations.”  In a cloudy world, the prime constraint should be the time it takes to restore your data.  Because you can rebuild all the infrastructure on demand, even in case of a disaster.  But you can’t be up and running until your instance data is live.

“Cloud Myths, Schemes and Dirty Little Secrets” by Patrick Kerpan up next.  Focus has been on making the physical virtual – Citrix on the desktop, VMWare on the server or Amazon EC2.  Dirty little secrets.  Ephemeral versus persistent images.  Ephemeral images disappear, but persistent ones too easy to treat like metal, errors accumulate, history of changes lost.  If you have a lot of data in the cloud, you can’t get it out quickly.  State is the monster (sounds like the last talk).

What is generally happening around us now is the beginning of the long, slow migration of the traditional enterprise to agile infrastructure; whether public, private or hybrid cloud.

The last talk before the break is called “Curing Addiction is Easier” by Stephen O’Grady.  Everybody has an API, but what about interoperability?  He mentioned Delta Cloud initiative (or maybe that’s δ-cloud), which is a layer on top of the API, for that reason.  No one has portability, but it’s not really a problem.  Most businesses want a solution now, and will defer worrying about tomorrow if they can solve their problem today.

That concludes the Cloud Scene theme for the day.  Not a lot of new stuff for me, but it’s supposed to set the scene and get us all on the same level.  Between the break and lunch we’ll see some Future Thinking.


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