Cloud Conference — and Unconference

By Dr. Chris Harding, The Open Group

The Wednesday of The Open Group Conference in San Diego included a formal Cloud Computing conference stream. This was followed in the evening by an unstructured CloudCamp, which made an interesting contrast.

The Cloud Conference Stream

The Cloud conference stream featured presentations on Architecting for Cloud and Cloud Security, and included a panel discussion on the considerations that must be made when choosing a Cloud solution.

In the first session of the morning, we had two presentations on Architecting for Cloud. Both considered TOGAF® as the architectural context. The first, from Stuart Boardman of Getronics, explored the conceptual difference that Cloud makes to enterprise architecture, and the challenge of communicating an architecture vision and discussing the issues with stakeholders in the subsequent TOGAF® phases. The second, from Serge Thorn of Architecting the Enterprise, looked at the considerations in each TOGAF® phase, but in a more specific way. The two presentations showed different approaches to similar subject matter, which proved a very stimulating combination.

This session was followed by a presentation from Steve Else of EA Principals in which he shared several use cases related to Cloud Computing. Using these, he discussed solution architecture considerations, and put forward the lessons learned and some recommendations for more successful planning, decision-making, and execution.

We then had the first of the day’s security-related presentations. It was given by Omkhar Arasaratnam of IBM and Stuart Boardman of Getronics. It summarized the purpose and scope of the Security for the Cloud and SOA project that is being conducted in The Open Group as a joint project of The Open Group’s Cloud Computing Work Group, the SOA Work Group, and Security Forum. Omkhar and Stuart described the usage scenarios that the project team is studying to guide its thinking, the concepts that it is developing, and the conclusions that it has reached so far.

The first session of the afternoon was started by Ed Harrington, of Architecting the Enterprise, who gave an interesting presentation on current U.S. Federal Government thinking on enterprise architecture, showing clearly the importance of Cloud Computing to U.S. Government plans. The U.S. is a leader in the use of IT for government and administration, so we can expect that its conclusions – that Cloud Computing is already making its way into the government computing fabric, and that enterprise architecture, instantiated as SOA and properly governed, will provide the greatest possibility of success in its implementation – will have a global impact.

We then had a panel session, moderated by Dana Gardner with his usual insight and aplomb, that explored the considerations that must be made when choosing a Cloud solution — custom or shrink-wrapped — and whether different forms of Cloud Computing are appropriate to different industry sectors. The panelists represented different players in the Cloud solutions market – customers, providers, and consultants – so that the topic was covered in depth and from a variety of viewpoints. They were Penelope Gordon of 1Plug Corporation, Mark Skilton of Capgemini, Ed Harrington of Architecting the Enterprise, Tom Plunkett of Oracle, and TJ Virdi of the Boeing Company.

In the final session of the conference stream, we returned to the topic of Cloud Security. Paul Simmonds, a member of the Board of the Jericho Forum®, gave an excellent presentation on de-risking the Cloud through effective risk management, in which he explained the approach that the Jericho Forum has developed. The session was then concluded by Andres Kohn of Proofpoint, who addressed the question of whether data can be more secure in the Cloud, considering public, private and hybrid Cloud environment.

CloudCamp

The CloudCamp was hosted by The Open Group but run as a separate event, facilitated by CloudCamp organizer Dave Nielsen. There were around 150-200 participants, including conference delegates and other people from the San Diego area who happened to be interested in the Cloud.

Dave started by going through his definition of Cloud Computing. Perhaps he should have known better – starting a discussion on terminology and definitions can be a dangerous thing to do with an Open Group audience. He quickly got into a good-natured argument from which he eventually emerged a little bloodied, metaphorically speaking, but unbowed.

We then had eight “lightning talks”. These were five-minute presentations covering a wide range of topics, including how to get started with Cloud (Margaret Dawson, Hubspan), supplier/consumer relationship (Brian Loesgen, Microsoft), Cloud-based geographical mapping (Ming-Hsiang Tsou, San Diego University), a patterns-based approach to Cloud (Ken Klingensmith, IBM), efficient large-scale data processing (AlexRasmussen, San Diego University), using desktop spare capacity as a Cloud resource (Michael Krumpe, Intelligent Technology Integration), cost-effective large-scale data processing in the Cloud (Patrick Salami, Temboo), and Cloud-based voice and data communication (Chris Matthieu, Tropo).

The participants then split into groups to discuss topics proposed by volunteers. There were eight topics altogether. Some of these were simply explanations of particular products or services offered by the volunteers’ companies. Others related to areas of general interest such as data security and access control, life-changing Cloud applications, and success stories relating to “big data”.

I joined the groups discussing Cloud software development on Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft Azure. These sessions had excellent information content which would be valuable to anyone wishing to get started in – or already engaged in – software development on these platforms. They also brought out two points of general interest. The first is that the dividing line between IaaS and PaaS can be very thin. AWS and Azure are in theory on opposite sides of this divide; in practice they provide the developer with broadly similar capabilities. The second point is that in practice your preferred programming language and software environment is likely to be the determining factor in your choice of Cloud development platform.

Overall, the CloudCamp was a great opportunity for people to absorb the language and attitudes of the Cloud community, to discuss ideas, and to pick up specific technical knowledge. It gave an extra dimension to the conference, and we hope that this can be repeated at future events by The Open Group.

Cloud and SOA are a topic of discussion at The Open Group Conference, San Diego, which is currently underway.

Dr. Chris Harding is Director for Interoperability and SOA at The Open Group. He has been with The Open Group for more than ten years, and is currently responsible for managing and supporting its work on interoperability, including SOA and interoperability aspects of Cloud Computing. Before joining The Open Group, he was a consultant, and a designer and development manager of communications software. With a PhD in mathematical logic, he welcomes the current upsurge of interest in semantic technology, and the opportunity to apply logical theory to practical use. He has presented at Open Group and other conferences on a range of topics, and contributes articles to on-line journals. He is a member of the BCS, the IEEE, and the AOGEA, and is a certified TOGAF® practitioner.

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