Announcing the Cloud Performance Summit

We’re introducing a new event to Cloud Connect this year, and it’s an indication of how much utility computing has matured since last year’s inaugural event.  Here are some thoughts on the Cloud Performance Summit, and why performance may be this year’s hot topic for on-demand computing.

In the early stages of any industry, the discussions focus on the “why” and “what.” Clouds are no different: we wanted to know what clouds were—with the inevitable debate over taxonomy and definition—and we hunted for reasons to embrace them, or to refuse them, depending on our own agendas.

But by now, most enterprise IT professionals have accepted that cloud technology is inevitable, and that third-party cloud providers deserve a place in their toolbox. Put another way, we’ve moved from tender embraces and heated arguments to the dispassionate world of the prenup. We want to know, can clouds deliver, and if they can’t, what can we do about it?

Performance is a tough subject. For one thing, cloud providers offer a shared resource. It’s the basis of their economic value proposition. And a shared resource means things like oversubscription, badly-behaved neighbors, and having to fight for service quality.

But it’s not just about sharing computing resources with others. For decades, IT has worked with a simple equation, namely, that the performance of a system is a function of how many people use it, and how much capacity it has. Roughly speaking, more users means a slower application, and more computers means a faster one.

Clouds offer capacity on demand. They’re elastic. Which means that in the demand/capacity equation, capacity is effectively limitless. If you want things to go faster, you can pay for additional capacity. And that’s why performance matters: it’s directly tied to your costs.

Consider air conditioning. With your own power, there’s a limit to how much you can cool a house. If you want it colder, you don’t have enough electricity to run your appliances; if you add a bigger generator, you can cool it more. But once you’re hooked up to an electrical grid, you can cool the house far more—and your bill will show that. With clouds, it’s not cooling, it’s performance.

Badly written code costs money, too, when you’re paying by compute cycle. Amazon’s Cloudfront CDN is forcing other application accelerators to offer pay-as-you-go pricing, which means more and more of the performance problem is now a billable cost.

At Interop New York, a panel of performance experts concluded that performance may in fact be a bigger problem than security—after all, there are security certifications on which customers can rely, but there’s precious little guidance when it comes to outages and latency. A Queen Mary University study concluded that the vast majority of cloud providers offer no guarantees in their terms of service, and if they do, then compensation is limited to a refund of service costs.

Making things even worse is the complexity of cloud deployments, which often involve many providers and components, and are harder to diagnose and instrument than in-house, centralized applications.

So we’re really excited about the summit. It’s bringing together vendors, end users, and performance experts in a relatively informal, open format to discuss some of these hard issues. It’s the first time we’re running it, but we’re already certain it won’t be the last.

Lean Analytics for Startups, from Le Web

I’m in Paris this week at Le Web, which is just like North American conferences but with better food, better wifi, better clothing, and more obnoxious door guards. I’ll be presenting a lightning-fast talk on web analytics for startups tomorrow morning; here’s the deck.

This will mean a slide every 15 seconds — basically four Ignites, back to back — but it should be fun. If anyone makes it back in all this snow, and recovers from the party tonight, that is.

The Democratization of IT slides from Interop

Last week, I presented a session on the democratization of IT. The short version is this: When every employee has better technology in their pocket than they do on their desk at work, and when it’s easy and cheap to deploy new applications that fly under the radar of enterprise IT controls, IT is no longer a monopoly, and it needs to shift what it does dramatically in order to stay relevant.

Enterprise Cloud Summit slides

ECS 2010 New York is a wrap. Over two days, an extraordinary set of speakers and end users came together to look at the state, and future, of cloud computing.

  • Folks like Accenture’s Dan Elron and Forrester’s Frank Gillett show us the big picture
  • Hands-on practitioners like Cloudscaling’s Randy Bias give us their view from the trenches
  • Fifteen end users discuss their enterprise and startup cloud adoption
  • We had detailed discussions on management, security, performance, and more.

The great content came from the participants; I just framed the discussion and moderated some of the panels. If you want them, here are my slides from the event.

First: opening remarks for ECS, on the democratization of IT.

(2 more decks after the jump)
Continue reading “Enterprise Cloud Summit slides”

Presentation from the first Canadian Cloud Roadmaps webinar

We recently ran the first of a series of webinars aimed specifically at Canadian cloud computing initiatives. Having talked with many governments and companies in Canada, we know there are some technical and legislative quirks to Canadian cloud adoption, and we’re trying to get a dialogue going.

The series is a joint, non-commercial undertaking between Bitcurrent, Joyent, and Cloudventures. The first webinar laid the foundation, discussing a common language for talking about cloud computing and looking at some of the standards and best practices that exist today.

You can watch the webinar here, or download the video file as an MP4 to watch later.

Delivery Strategies opener from Enterprise 2.0

Yesterday, we opened up the Delivery Strategies track at Enterprise 2.0 with a session called, “apps don’t deploy themselves.” The basic idea was that IT managers have many more options to consider when deploying applications, from the platforms on which things run to the economics of building versus buying.

Here’s the deck in Slideshare.

Slides from cloud 101 at Gov2Expo

On Tuesday, I had a chance to talk with government cloud users in DC about clouds. Rather than the usual “echo chamber” of clouds and IT, this was a more introductory session, and it gave me a chance to cover the broader trends in IT — the shift from a monopoly model to a free market, and the cultural changes it entails.

Here’s the slide deck, with speakers’ notes.

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. Continue reading “Launching Cloud Connect”

A Q&A on cloud computing

Recently, some journalism students from the American University in DC asked if they could interview me about cloud computing. As I wrote back to them, I realized that the discussion was different from what I usually talk about when it comes for clouds. These are journalism students, and they likely have a different view of “cloud computing” from the technobabble we technologists enjoy. It’s also about how schools will use on-demand applications. So I figured I’d re-post the thread here.

One of the biggest things I realized was that “clouds” can mean “elastic, on-demand compute platforms” or just “stuff that runs on the web” depending on who you’re talking to. And while these seem like two separate definitions, ultimately, they’re the same thing.

The Q&A, below the fold.

Continue reading “A Q&A on cloud computing”