Lessons learned from Structure 2014

When you run around a conference like a maniac, it’s hard to gather your thoughts. But now that a few days have passed since Structure 2014 wrapped, and the smoke has cleared, here’s are some impressions

1: We’re still in early days of cloud adoption

While some reporters (ahem) tend to focus on shake outs and consolidation among dozens of cloud providers, the providers themselves seem to think there’s a ton of business to go around. And they may have a point. Various Structure speakers said we’ve barely scratched the surface of enterprise application deployment in the cloud. “Single digit percentage,” is how HP EVP Bill Veghte put enterprise adoption of cloud currently.

As Amazon CTO Werner Vogels put it, “[Cloud] is too good a business to be winner take all … We are still in growth phase we need to work together to get more customers into the cloud…. let’s all make the pie bigger and everyone’s business will do well. Video of Vogel’s session with Om is below:

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Asked if all the open-source private cloud guys — All the OpenStack players plus CloudStack plus Eucalyptus plus OpenNebula will survive, Citrix GM Sameer Dholakia replied: “Nobody asks … ‘Are there too many proprietary cloud solutions out there?’”

2: In public cloud it’s AWS, Microsoft and Google

The next question is what other providers else can achieve their level of scale and the answer is: “Who knows?” It’s not for lack of would-be contenders. IBM SoftLayer CEO Lance Crosby put IBM in the top tier; VMware’s Bill Fathers did the same with vCloud Hybrid Services.

The difference 100 percent of all those execs agree that AWS, Google and Microsoft are the public clouds to beat. Or at least compete against.

3: OpenStack is hard but it’s in the game for private clouds

Even if the open-source standard gets fragmented around the edges of the core, as Battery Ventures technology fellow Adrian Cockcroft noted.

But the brand is gold to vendors because of public awareness of it, and that’s why Cisco, HP, Cloudscaling, IBM, Rackspace, Red Hat and the known universe of IT vendors are all touting OpenStack-labeled clouds.

And even Microsoft, which is touting Azure as a cloud that is home to Linux and other non-Windows workloads and non-Microsoft-centric languages has considered supporting the OpenStack APIs, according to EVP Scott Guthrie. No decisions yet, but stay tuned on that one.

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4: Watch for more AWS private clouds

Vogels acknowledged that big companies ask Amazon about the CIA cloud it’s building under a 10-year, $600 million government contract. He said most (but not all) of those discussions usually end up about how AWS public cloud resources, its VPC and Direct Connect, correctly implemented can meet those requirements. He referred to these implementations as “members-only clouds” — and cited AWS GovCloud is an example. Still, to reasonable people not under NDA to AWS, it’s a no-brainer that Amazon will do more private cloud type deployments provided the customer has enough money to make it worthwhile.

Also Vogels wouldn’t comment on more AWS regions coming online, but I would expect to see Germany and perhaps France, to get such attention sooner rather than later.

5: Snowden helped/hurt cloud adoption

Take your pick. VMWare’s Fathers said after an initial knee-jerk reaction, cloud adoption actually picked up after the NSA’s data scooping practices were revealed last year. HP’s Veghte said it’s harder to sell cloud in booming markets now — especially China — since the disclosures.  and that, he concluded “is a bummer.” 


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6: For the Internet of Things to take off, we need a security do-over

It’s hard not to get caught up in the hype around the Internet of things, but unless the world comes up with a fundamental re-do of security, we’re going to be disappointed, according to Dan Kaufman, director of the Information Innovation Office at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). In that world where everything from home security cameras to cars to medical devices is connected, the idea of buying something that requires weekly patches to work properly won’t cut it.

“If we don’t have a fundamentally new security model, then I don’t know how we’re going to enjoy the internet of things,” Kaufman said. “Patch Tuesday for your car or your insulin pump doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.”

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Structure Show Podcast

This week’s show stars Google SVP Urs Hölzle and Microsoft EVP Scott Guthrie, talking about their respective public cloud efforts.
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Photo by Jakub Mosur

Structure 2014 ticker