In between meetings on a business trip to London this week I thought I’d drop by the 3rd Cloud Computing World Forum at Olympia to see what was going on. I attended the same event last year and it would be a good opportunity to see what had changed and also to catch up with some old acquaintances.
My first impression was a good one, the event was noticeably larger and better attended than last year with most of the major cloud vendors in attendance. The event looked to be very well organised and comprised a sizeable exhibition and three seminar steams (four if you included the one dedicated to Microsoft) billed as:
- Cloud Approach – How you might do cloud.
- Cloud Build – The mechanics of making a switch to the cloud
- Cloud Connect – Interaction with the social cloud and Enterprise 2.0
I had time to have a quick look around the exhibition and attend four seminars, across each stream, which was more by chance than good planning. The exhibition was comprised predominantly of Cloud vendors and Service Management companies with a few telcos. On offer was at least 50 different cloud (managed hosting) solutions. However, the seminars were of more interest and I’ll focus on these.
The first session I attended was “Cloud as a game changing business strategy” was presented by Adrian Gardiner who is the CIO of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Centre.
This sounded like an interesting topic and my expectations were high. Adrian’s presentation was very pragmatic and was based on real life examples of where NASA had used Cloud technology (and also where they wouldn’t consider it)… some excellent takeaways from this session:
NASA probably has the most computing power on the planet available at their disposal. A huge consumer of Super Computers and it probably wasn’t such a big surprise to hear that they run their own cloud… a claim backed up by pictures of a POD on a concrete slab in the middle of nowhere.
This in itself was impressive, but this next bit was the real gem for me… “It’s not uncommon for NASA to run a development project for 10 years before it comes to fruition as a live service. If you were to provision hardware at the start of the project it would be obsolete by the time the project delivered. Instead NASA was using the cloud as a development environment, provisioning the most modern hardware (their choice is still to run critical systems in house) just in time for project launch.”
The most disappointing element of this session was environmental, the seminar rooms and the exhibition were all under the same roof and the background noise was terrible. The year before there was a separate seminar room which worked much better *** note to organisers ***
The next session I attended was “Cloud computing in large enterprises” presented by Andrew Weir, Director of Enterprise Architecture at British Petroleum. Once again here are the highlights:
Andrew opened with an interesting first question, i.e. “show of hands how many people here are buying vs. selling cloud solutions?” Most were selling!!!
I found Andrew’s presentation very informative and doused with pragmatism. He shared some insights into the sheer scale of BP’s IT operation around the world. With the exception of one or two of the largest cloud vendors in attendance BP’s server farms would dwarf the offerings of most cloud vendors.
On the back of this Andrew explained when you run a business on such a scale it is actually more cost effective for BP to host and run as opposed to paying a cloud vendor for managed services. In addition Andrew shared some insights into BP’s IT strategy:
BP envisages a private cloud environment hosted on BP infrastructure (plus some hybrid cloud) as the way forward with data confidentiality and security as key drivers on the basis that BP is very governance oriented business, especially around financial compliance and risk management.
Hybrid cloud technology is of interest but they feel it is not yet ready for enterprise scale ~ still 2-3 years away (governance and management issues rather than availability).
And the final word from Andrew… todays clouds are mostly targeted at the consumer not enterprise business and you need to look beyond the hype to find value.
More to come in part 2… here now.