Dell and VMware invited a diverse group of people to come to San Francisco for a day to have an open discussion around a number of different cloud-related topics. I jumped at the chance to go and participate. The event was live streamed on Justin.tv for people to view and we had a healthy dose of participation from twitter. The discussion was quite intense and lively. David Linthicum moderated the two sessions in the morning and Robert Scoble came in to moderate the sessions in the afternoon.
There were four sessions, Mobile and the Cloud, The Business of Enterprise Cloud, Influence of Government on Cloud Adoption and The Future of Cloud Computing. The opinions were flying fast and furious with a lot of gems said on Twitter.
So what were my highlights?
There was a clear divide in the conversation about cloud adoption between those who deal with more web-centric workloads and legacy enterprise workloads. The problem was those two views were trying to discuss opposing views which really apply differently to each side. There’s also a strong view on governments and law being huge potential barriers to the economic benefit of cloud. We spent a lot of time discussing the balance of privacy and openness as things like Big Data make the aggregation of personal information more visible.
I think Dell and VMware did a amazing job putting the event together. My only feedback is that sometimes it seemed like the gloom-and-doom chamber and it would’ve been good to have a couple of people on the panel from the enterprise and agile startup world who talked about cloud successes. It was great to be part of the discussions which many incredible individuals. I’ve included the list of attendees below.
Everyone talks about the consumerization of IT and how end-users are demanding enterprise support of things like iPhones, iPads and many other pieces of technology. People want to be able to consume IT as a resource on any device or platform they have. This is happening between enterprise hardware and software vendors and service providers.
I’ve met with quite a few them recently and they usually fall into two camps. Ones who have invested and attempted to develop their own intellectual property and others who have leveraged economies of scale and rely on vendors to supply the IP. There are exceptions to this rule of course. The first camp is what I want to focus on.
Here is what they want:
Align with my business and go-to-market strategy
Don’t can your offering with SP-focused marketing materials if it can’t honor the promises
Have hardware and software with open interfaces
Have well-documented interfaces
Be agile in the adoption of new interfaces
These conversations tend to revolve around the self-service portals many of the pure-play service providers have developed. They don’t want a canned out of the box offering, they want to be able to provision and orchestrate the compute, network and storage layer through things like SOAP and REST protocols. When you develop these interfaces and hand them over to the developers, strange things happen. Nick “@lynxbat” Weaver exemplifies this. He isn’t a developer by day but you give him some APIs and he can do crazy things on a plane like write a vSphere plugin that allows VM teleportation with our (EMC’s) VPLEX product.
Now I’m not ignoring the need for software development lifecycle management, version control. Those are all important. The thing is that the “neat stuff” us and our customers do can only get better if we open up with good APIs that have a happy balance between standardization and cutting-edge agility.
Why do I beat this drum? Because it’s a win for enterprise hardware/software vendors and our customers. What is most exciting about this is that I’ve beat this drum inside of EMC, not as a VP of strategic direction but as a joe-schmoe vSpecialist. What has come out of it? A lot of people have listened and it is a huge priority. I’ve said it before on twitter but one of the best things about working at EMC is that the organization is huge but very flat. The reality is that I’ve been able to nudge an aircraft carrier with the help of others and start to change course. This isn’t a post about why I love working at EMC but I think it’s a darn compelling reason. Our work has just begun…
Things change. I’m not talking about my wife, job or car. I’m talking about myself and infrastructure consisting of servers, storage and networking. I don’t want underutilized resources that take time to manage and don’t let me get things done.
Let me explain. I flew into Boston to give a couple of Executive Briefings on the Virtual Datacenter this week. Some customers saw exactly where I was going and others probably thought I was insane. I started at a high level and then went into the details but here’s the problem. When we talk about infrastructure becoming a pool of resources that you’re able to push and pull workloads into and out of, some people think it’s fairytale land. It’s not. I used to build my own computers but I don’t anymore. I buy one that has the most, not all, of the best technology and is good enough.
What they see:
Complex infrastructure with many moving parts
Legacy applications, some virtualization adoption
Thick fog that’s hard to see through
They think they’ll have to trust something new
What I see:
A multi-step process that takes time
Virtualization allows us to focus less on the boxes, cables and spinning platters
Platforms (Springsource with Azure, Amazon’s AWS also qualifying) enabling quicker development
We can make existing infrastructure and software better
Infrastructure AND platforms are both part of the “Stack” and “Cloud” conversation. It’s about businesses being able to let their most valuable asset (their people) work on deploying applications faster instead of provisioning servers. Yes, the “server huggers” and “IT pros” as Brian Prince (Azure Evangelist at Microsoft) calls them, will still be needed to make sure we’re architecting and deploying apps properly on the infrastructure.
Change is ok. Things aren’t perfect but continually improving. Most of us drive cars instead of ride horses and we buy clothes instead of make our own. People trust technology (network, shared storage, memory, etc) and build around its faults (RAID etc.).
Recently I was bluntly accused of spouting an EMC-centric view. As if other technology companies didn’t see it this way too. Guess what, it’s not just EMC, it’s many end-users and vendors both who share this view. The view of and challenges posed to enterprise customers is much different from those faced by sometimes smaller and more public-facing web service companies. I get it. There are still security challenges, management challenges, and legacy application challenges but before so quickly dismiss stacks and cloud, open your mind a bit.
Here are some notes I took during the keynote at the 2009 Microsoft’s Professional Developer Conference I attended months before joining EMC.
Session: Bridging the private and public Cloud
Move has been to get higher utilization
It’s about the applications and working to get them into the cloud
Build rich apps for the cloud while preserving app symmetry w/ the enterprise
Frictionless deployment across the spectrum
New breed of apps that span from on-premises to cloud
The GestaltIT Tech Field Day event just wrapped up and it was a very interesting event. Stephen Foskett and Claire Chaplais did a phenomenal job at keeping the wheels on the bus. I realized that the attendees were just as critical as making the event a success above and beyond the vendors. I learned so much from others who either knew more or had different perspectives. The genesis of this list comes from the question I asked myself and other attendees constantly which was, “What can we do to get deeper than a standard technical presentation or trade show booth demo.”
1. Ask yourself what you want out of it – Remember, some of your attendees have never heard of you but many know some of your pitch already. Figure out what you want to get out of the event ahead of time and ask yourself if attendees will walk away talking about your presentations the way you wanted them to.
2. Cover the basics and then get into the weeds – We love the weeds. Some of us do anyway. It shows us you know what you’re talking about. It separates you from your competition. Tell us your strengths and weaknesses. We are more effective when we are armed with more information.
3. Bring your best people - You want to bring your best and brightest because there will be people (like me) who will grind into the details. 3Par and Ocarina brought their rockstars and it was apparent to each and every attendee. They knew their stuff and didn’t push questions aside.
4. Think and re-think your demo or hands-on labs - Some of the ones we experienced were great but others weren’t effective. Demos and labs that cover the basics *aren’t* always the best. People who are following the event will say, “I could’ve done that. Show me something new and different.” Remember, some of us love the CLI and others could care less. Make sure your activity will keep people engaged. Data Robotics did this very well but a big reason is because their technology is *different*. They understood how to deliver an experience much like Steve Jobs and Apple does. Their CEO even did a whiteboard of their technology and he got into the weeds.
5. There is never enough time - Almost all the vendors were a bit over schedule. Don’t try to cram too much in if it won’t fit or get a bigger timeslot. Many vendors had this happen but kudos to them for rolling right through.
Remember that you will get both good and bad feedback but being in tune with your audience is what matters. The rules above are not a guaranteed recipe for successful but they’ll give you a good start. They are universal and apply whenever you are pitching anything, not just during a Tech Field Day event. Stephen will be posting the videos of the sessions, watch them and learn from what worked and what didn’t.
The GestaltIT Tech Field Day is upon us… Stephen Foskett has put together an amazing event. The GestaltIT authors and other peers coming together to listen to the interesting things that some vendors are doing. It’ll be held out in Silicon Valley from November 12th-13th.
Why is this important? Because it will give attendees some good hands-on experiences with the products and not just marketcture slides.
We’ll all be blogging about the event and also tweeting with the #techfieldday hash tag on twitter.
Here are the sponsors:
Supporting sponsors for portions of the event:
Here’s the official blurb from the GestaltIT.com site.
Today, we are pleased to demonstrate an expanded vision by announcing the first-ever Gestalt IT event, Tech Field Day! We will be bringing many of our own authors as well as other like-minded folks to Silicon Valley on November 12 and 13, 2009 for a live, in-person event. We have invited some of the most interesting and innovative companies to sponsor the event, presenting their technology and products.
This is not a trade show, a junket, or an analyst day. Rather, the participating sponsors will be engaging the attendees, inviting feedback, and fostering open communication. We were inspired by HP’s series of Tech Days and wanted to broaden the concept, bringing in more products and a broader range of technologies. We also liked the idea of creating and managing a similar event as an independent third party.