Living in the Clouds: Master the Cloud Event - Toronto

Thursday, February 02, 2012

Rafal Los

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Last night it snowed... and that ordinarily wouldn't be a problem up here in the great white north, except that I don't think anyone was expecting it. 

What's worse, I wasn't expecting it. You can imagine my surprise when checking into my hotel room, answering some emails and having a hot tea I stepped out into the hotel lobby only to see nothing by white outside, and a heavy snow falling. 

OK... welcome to Toronto I guess, eh?  Ahh, Toronto, my second home...

CNTower_Clouds.jpgIn a city where it's impossible to get a ticket even when the Leafs are having an off-year, apparently some of that flare has carried over as I look out into the audience of the Master the Cloud event here in Toronto. 

I say that because as Adam Growe (host of Canada's Cash Cab) warmed up the crowd with a little comedy on a sloppy Tuesday morning, I noticed that there were just a handful of seats left and people queuing up at the registration kiosk... I guess this cloud thing is for real?  I'm kidding.

Seriously though, Cloud Computing is on the minds of many of the execs I've had a chance to talk to here today. Whether they're curious, engaged, or leading cloud efforts the one thing that's for certain is that there is cloud activity here in Toronto.

I did my rounds around the showroom floor, listening to people talk to the different demo pods, getting a tour of our mobile POD "data centre" (spelled wrong because I'm up here and everyone spells it that way!) and once again I got the sense that the veil of confusion was lifting. 

Now, I'm not delusional and I haven't drank that much corporate kool-aid (some of you know what this refers to) to believe that someone who has no ability to separate fact from fiction on cloud computing shows up here at our little trade show and magically goes home a genius... no, it's more about the reality of things.

Patrick Kerr summed it up best for me and I suspect the every-seat-in-the-house-filled audience by telling us that Cloud Computing is one of the most over-hyped terms in years.  It's largely made up by marketing people, and has gotten to a state where it nearly has lost its meaning. 

Key word: nearly. To quote one of my favorite movie characters "I say we take it back".  We have to keep making cloud relevant to the business in terms of agility, responsiveness, and other business goals... I'm with him 100% on that sentiment.

Reality Check!

One of the things I think many of the attendees of these events will go home with after talking to HP and partners like VMWare, Microsoft and others is that cloud doesn't just happen

You don't go from a slow-to-respond, over-budget, under-resourced, insecure IT department to a cloud business overnight... it's just not practical.  You also can't expect to save 50% on your IT costs "overnight"... there are steps to be taken here.

I think what people are going home with after hearing these keynotes, sitting on the workshops we have and getting some of the cool demos we have available are as follows:

  • Relating cloud computing to business value isn't impossible, or really that difficult if you're deliberate about your goals and careful to separate hype from reality.  Rationalize the cloud, if you think it will make business sense... if not leave it alone.  Don't go shoving a square peg into a round hole, this rarely results in a win.
  • Step one is working through a business objectives workshop... whether you get it from a vendor like HP or one of our partners, or run it internally from in-house expertise... make this step 1 before you start writing checks or planning the future of your corporate cloud strategy
  • Applications can't just be 'forklifted' (virtually of course) out to the cloud.  If not ever application, then most of your applications will likely need tweaks, if not outright re-architectures, to take full advantage of the capabilities and paradigms of cloud computing
  • Security is critical, but it's more about understanding the security model you'll be undertaking than trying to fit some ideals you have about the cloud security nirvana. Each provider, each model (IaaS, PaaS, SaaS, etc) have differing offerings and quirks for security ...watch those contracts closely!

That's it for now... I'm off to do another interesting plenary session titled "Security Considerations for the Cloud" with Victor Garcia (HP Cloud Canada) whom will be my mystery guest on the podcast (link here soon)... thanks for reading!

Cross-posted from Following the White Rabbit

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