Launching Cloud Connect

In a few weeks, we’ll hold the inaugural Cloud Connect in Santa Clara, California. It’s actually the continuation of a series of events David Berlind launched around cloud computing, plus a spinoff of last year’s Enterprise Cloud Summit, plus a bunch of new content.

We’re pretty excited, because this is the first time Bitcurrent has helped build an event from scratch (unless you count Bitnorth, that is, but Cloud Connect is a beast of a different magnitude.) There are four days of content, built around three audiences: those who buy and finance cloud decisions; those who build cloud applications, and those who have to run the cloud platforms.

Getting here has been an interesting experience. Here’s what we did, plus an easter egg for reading all the way to the end.

  1. We first defined the content and themes based on what had worked in past conferences and where we thought the industry was going.
  2. We reached out to roughly 50 people we knew were heavily involved in cloud computing, across industry, analyst, and end user, making a technical advisory board (TAB).
  3. We solicited presentation ideas and papers from the world, and put these into a voting system (called Pligg), asking the TAB to choose which presenters, topics, or sessions they wanted to see.
  4. We brought on a number of track chairs who specialized in our chosen themes.
  5. Those chairs used the winning sessions, plus their own networks, to define the sessions and panels

We really couldn’t have organized this without some exceptional track chairs and organizers.

  • Shlomo Swidler is a cloud developer who’s one of the top-ranked participants in the Amazon Web Service forums.
  • Joe Weinman is an authority on cloud economics.
  • Drew Bartkiewicz specializes in computing governance and risk.
  • Randy Bias helps people deploy and migrate to cloud environments.
  • Bradford Cross pushes the envelopes of big data.
  • Greg Ness lives in the world of new infrastructure needed to support the cloud.
  • Dr. Robert Marcus coordinates many of the standards meetings around clouds.
  • Hooman Beheshti, Hon Wong, and Imad Mouline know all about performance.
  • Dan Koffler, John Willis, Jesse Robbins, James Urquhart and Jason Hoffman know about cloud operations first-hand.
  • Dwight Merriman has built some of the fastest applications in the world, and is now focused on scalable high-performance data.
  • Judith Hurwitz is an expert in making technical topics accessible, and has written many books on IT.

Choosing track chairs, and letting each of them find the right content and participants for the sessions, proved invaluable. I would never have found the calibre of presenters they did. We also invited a number of cloud providers to come and teach the audience how to build on their distinct clouds. We have Microsoft, Google, Amazon, Heroku, Adobe, Intuit, and Salesforce.com all presenting in a single day.

It’s tough to find the right balance for any event. Cloud computing is at once broad (since it affects every aspect of IT) and specialized (since cloud spending is still a tiny fraction of global IT budgets) but the interest in clouds is huge. Many people are just trying to separate the wheat from the chaff, in order to understand what’s legitimately new and what’s just “cloudwashing.”

Cloud Connect seems to have become the place where that will happen. Attention and enrollment has surpassed all our expectations for a first-time conference, and we have a hundred of the most influential thinkers and builders in cloud computing under one roof. I’m humbled and amazed at the amount of work everyone’s put into the event.

Oh, and if you’ve read this far, find me on Twitter in the next 2 days, and send me a note. I’ve got a free conference pass for someone. If you want to attend the full event, including the workshops, use the code CNJRCC06 for a 40% discount or a free Expo pass. Hopefully we’ll see one another in a few weeks.