GigaOm Structure: What's next in clouds

My friend Om Malik and the GigaOm crew have been hard at work on a few things. First, there’s the new GigaOm Pro, a paid offering that’s part analyst firm, part intrepid reporter, and part real-world clue-check. This is a good thing.

Done wrong, analyst firms can sometimes look like the protection rackets of the attention economy — a pay-to-play pact. This is a trap many traditional firms fall into; it’s inevitable that the biggest paying customers expect more love.

But a blog as an analyst firm has built-in honesty. The GigaOm crew has a pedigree of reporting that goes back to TV and print journalism, and anyone who reads Om knows he’s unflinchingly honest, even when that means breaking some glass. So GigaOm Pro looks like a refreshing change.

That’s not all GigaOm has been up to. Their Structure conference, now in its second year, is fast approaching. Last year, I helped with the conference and moderated some great panels — including one where Google was summarily attacked by a bunch of other cloud vendors for not being open. This was the first real debate on a subject that’s come to dominate cloud computing in the past year.

Which is typical GigaOm. Structure was ahead of its time last year — for example, while others were just talking about Green Computing, they brought in Jonathan Coomey to talk about his first-hand research.

So if you can make it to Structure 09, do so. The GigaOm folks passed along a discount code for Bitcurrent, so if you’re thinking of going, now you have no excuse; they sold out last year and likely will do so again.

1H2009: Events, events everywhere

The first half of 2009 is shaping up to be a very busy time for the Bitcurrent team. We have  events that we’re going to be attending, participating in, coordinating, or otherwise making noise at. We’ll post more details on each event–along with discount codes–shortly. Here’s a quick overview.

Cloud Connect: [January 20-22, Mountain View, CA] I’m speaking on a panel called “Is Lock-In Inevitable? Or Can the Cloud Learn From the Lessons of the Past?” with Redmonk’s Stephen O’Grady, Appistry’s Sam Charrington, and IBM’s Bob Sutor. Cloud Connect is the brainchild of David Berlind, and it’s a dose of reality to conferences.

Green:Net09: [March 24, San Francisco, CA] GigaOm’s tech conference, tied to Earth2Tech, promises to do for green what Structure did for IT infrastructure. One day, good speakers, in San Francisco.

SIIA Netgain and CODiEs: [May 3-5, San Francisco, CA] This conference is focusing on the business of software, including issues like the impact of mobility, funding in a lousy economy, and dealing with the impact of free software. It’s our first time working with the SIIA guys but the content and speakers are already amazing.

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Structure08 roundup

GigaOm’s Structure08 event is a wrap. It was an amazing turnout of people in the next-generation infrastructure world, and a packed day of panels and discussions.
I had my computer and phone off most of the time, since I was announcing speakers and moderating panels for much of the day. So I’m now scouring the net to see how we did.

I was incredibly lucky to have great panelists for panels on cloud platforms. While most of the discussions were fairly pragmatic, we did of course invent some new terms:

  • “Bare metal” clouds: Clouds that aspire to nothing more than giving you root more economically.
  • “Little Fluffy Clouds” (thanks to The Orb) after Tony Lucas referred to “Loving clouds” as those clouds which really want to do no evil.
  • A cloud user’s bill of rights, which would outline portability and so on.
  • “Cloudbursting”, the idea that an enterprise private cloud might burst into the public cloud temporarily.

I wish I’d known that Facebook was hiccuping while I was talking with the scaling panel, particularly since we had Jonathan Heiliger with us.

Then a dozen of us headed to an excellent pub on Haight and stayed up until far too late. Great end to a great couple of weeks in the Bay Area. Now, as the Spirit of the West say, it’s home for a rest. But I leave you with this.

Don't judge a cloud by its cover

I just finished watching a presentation on Eucalyptus, an open source layer for cloud computing that emulates Amazon’s EC2.

The Eucalyptus team replicated nearly all of EC2. They know this because they pulled down Amazon’s Web Services Description Language (WSDL), which describes the various function calls someone can make to Amazon, and made sure Eucalyptus could do the same thing. It’s not a secret; in fact, you can check it out here.

This raises an interesting point. For a traditional desktop developer, if two interfaces are identical, then writing code to one means it will work on the other just fine. But there are two other things to consider if you’re choosing a cloud platform: Operational reliability, and network effects.

The first one’s pretty basic: Don’t use someone who can’t keep their cloud running.

The second one is less obvious: The value of a cloud service isn’t just what it does; it’s also how many people use it.

For example:

In other words, when considering a cloud’s services, we can’t just look at the richness of the APIs it offers. We have to also consider the network effects it enjoys.


I’m in San Francisco this week for Velocity, CloudCamp and Structure’08 and the valley buzz du’jour is definitely Cloud Computing. Tomorrow evening is the inaugural CloudCamp and I’m bracing myself for more argument over the rules of membership in the Clouderati.

It strikes me that for the business minded, the question is not who’s in and who’s out, rather, who’s going to be able to stay in. Cloud is simply an IT delivery model. It comes with high customer expectations that few companies are tooled up to meet. 24×7 availability, self-service provisioning, pay-per-use billing and internet scale, all for $1.78 a month.

I’m hoping for good debate about Cloud adopters, their expectations, and how we can implement Clouds to meet them… without going broke. See you there.

…cross posted to

Power panels at Structure '08

A couple of weeks ago, I was lucky enough to moderate a panel on next-generation databases at Web2Expo. Having database greats Brian Aker, Dave Campbell, and Matt Domo in one place made for great dialogue. In addition to finding out whether RDBMS is dead, we looked at the big challenges of data storage (synchronization, working offline, and a shift towards specialized data models.)

We even found out how these three datascenti track their contacts (MySQL’s Aker uses scripts he wrote; Microsoft’s Campbell uses Outlook.)

Then last week at Interop, I had folks from platform companies like Google, Amazon, and Opsource together with a number of startups and virtualization tool makers. Again, great dialogue, even on the five-person panel that ran over. This time, the consensus seemed to be that on-demand computing was great for bursty capacity and highly parallel tasks, but lacked the controls, management tools, and SLAs to be a production platform for enterprises at the moment.

But Structure promises to be the most compressed discussion yet. Om Malik, the guy behind the event, says it’s about two things: Learning how the new web is built from the architects that built it; and networking with investors who “are looking to place their bets on cloud computing” and see it as a huge opportunity. “Structure 08 is about Getting Web Done,” says Malik.
I have two panels on the same day to moderate:

  • Cloud Computing: Infrastructure for Entrepreneurs, featuring Geva Perry, CMO of GigaSpaces; Jason Hoffman, CTO of Joyent, Tony Lucas, CEO of XCalibre; Lew Moorman, SVP Strategy of Rackspace; Christophe Bisciglia, senior software engineer at Google; and Joseph Weinman, corporate development and strategy at AT&T.
  • Scaling to Satiate Demand: Tactics from the pioneers, with Sandy Jen, co-founder and VP Engineering of Meebo; Akash Garg, CTO of Hi5, Jeremiah Robinson, CTO of Slide; and Jonathan Heiliger, VP Technical Operations of Facebook.

Each of these will be a fast-and-furious fifty-minute discussion around on-demand computing and the ability to scale. Time to come up with some pithy questions and awkward follow-ups.

Any sugggestions?

GigaOm Structure: Defining the future of business infrastructure

GigaOm, one of the leading tech blogs, launched its Structure conference recently. We’re going to be getting involved with the conference, helping to find speakers and vet topics.GigaOm Structure ‘08

In fairly sharp contrast to technology conference that focus on the “how” of infrastructure, Structure looks at the “why.” As one of the GigaOm folks told us, this event is more about the ways changing infrastructure can fundamentally alter an online business.

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