Thursday, July 30, 2009

Conspiracy at Cloud Camp Boston

I attended CloudCamp Boston last night. If you did not attend, you missed out on an excellent unconference. Many thanks to the sponsors for picking up the food and bar tab, and providing the meeting space. Special thanks to Matthew Rudnick and Wayne Pauley who lead Silver Lining, The Boston Cloud Computing User Group for jump-starting the event.

The 350 registered attendees heard Judith Hurwitz and John Treadway give a good overview of Cloud Computing with some of the latest definitions and terms. Most of the action came in the sessions where attendees could ask their questions in a group setting, hear various opinions, and have a discussion to seek understanding. The hallway discussions were happening everywhere. There was an urgency to the give and take of information so the attendees could get to the next person on their list.

Let's face it, the concept of Cloud Computing is vague, unfamiliar, emerging, and complex. I applaud those who are overcoming the inclination to wait until the dust settles before they learn about it. They are sorting through the hype, 'cloudwashing' (a play on whitewashing), pre-announcements, and unproven pundit claims to uncover what they need to learn and, most importantly, unlearn. The common answer to their questions was, 'it depends'. Still they persisted in refining their questions and seeking why it depends.

Apparently, there is a controversy surrounding the concept of 'private cloud'. Some maintain that a private cloud is nothing more than a move by existing IT types to keep their jobs and hardware vendors to keep up their hardware sales to enterprises. Has Oliver Stone been seen lurking around Armonk lately?

Putting conspiracy theories aside for a moment, my brief description of a private cloud is cloud computing done internally. Our NIST friends would agree in principle with this definition. For example, if one could package up all of AWS's tools, software, hardware, and operational knowledge, and actually operate their own resources with the same capability and efficiency as AWS does, that would be an example of a private cloud. A private cloud duplicates the same level of automation, process control, programatic control, scale, multi-tenancy, security, isolation, and cost-efficiency as a public cloud. There may be some internal data centers that are today operating as efficiently as AWS's public cloud and could claim that they are operating a private cloud. However, a person who points to an hodgepodge of machines maintained by an army of administrators claiming that he has a private cloud would have difficulty proving his case.

If hardware vendors and IT types are promoting private clouds to save themselves, they may have grabbed an anchor instead of a life-preserver.

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