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I attended two cloud conferences in the Bay Area last week. Cloud Leadership Forum in Santa Clara and Structure in San Francisco.

It was evident that cloud computing has taken center stage in the world of IT and come a long ways from being pie-in-the-sky. The who’s who in information technology was there, socializing their cloud strategy and announcing new offerings. More importantly, customers looking for cloud solutions were present in increasing numbers trying to understand the technology and its applications to their business. Structure was also buzzing with a lot of Valley startups seeking to get noticed, establish relationships and covet the much sought after venture funding.

IBM’s Allen Downs announced Business Continuity and Resiliency offerings at Cloud Leadership Forum. Three executives, who left Citrix, XenSource and Phoenix Technologies, launched Bromium, a startup focusing on continuous protection of a piece of code in the hypervisor. IBM’s Lauren States provided the cockpit view of the company’s strategy and efforts around its cloud computing business. DotCloud’s Solomon Hykes announced its Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) offering that lets developers run any major application or database stack in the cloud. IBM’s Rich Lechner talked about the unique cloud opportunities in growth markets like Latin America. IBM’s Lorenzo De La Vega provided great insights about the cloud M&A landscape.

Focus in cloud solutions is expanding to innovation and business agility in addition to the traditional value adds of cost and time to market. Renewed focus in network and storage was also rampant at both conferences with compute, virtualization and server consolidation take a slight back seat. Juniper, Cisco, Arista and other networking heavyweights talked about East-West versus North-South architectures. The term ‘fabric’ was used a lot in this context by several companies in addition to specific offerings such as QFabric by Juniper.

Some of the trends that I noticed in storage are the move towards solid state storage technology and tiered storage. The spectrum of tiered storage solutions range from one extreme of dual tier – solid state and cloud storage to the other extreme of too many tiers – solid state, SAS and SATA with 15K, 7.2K, 5.4K RPM variations, tape, cloud. Files, blocks, SAN, NAS were deemed artifacts of client server architecture. Object store, metadata, and REST API are touted as the new taxonomy for cloud storage.

Other notables that caught my attention and may deserve to be on your list for Friday reading:

  • Intel AES-NI – new 7 instruction set for advanced chip level encryption bypassing the hypervisor
  • IIJ (Internet Initiative Japan) – 50,000 server operation without any human intervention
  • ZTP – Zero Touch Provisioning
  • Cloud in Pocket – Mobile and Cloud go well together
  • OpenFlow – standard to run new protocols and services on vendor switches and networks with isolation to production load.
  • Toyota Friend – Toyota vehicles plan to use Salesforce Chatter to communicate.

IBM’s Gurvinder Ahluwalia conducted an engaging session focusing on the tool belt of the Technology Strategist and Architecture Practitioner. He talked about three cloud delivery models, five cloud deployment models and cloud computing reference architecture.

Cloud’s platform-as-a-service (PaaS) area is getting crowded as cloud IaaS matures. The current breed of PaaS offerings can be categorized in at least two distinct flavors – 1) IaaS management centric and 2) application and workload centric. Here are some vendor and open source offerings to check out at your leisure. I will plan to cover some of these in my future blog articles:

  • RedHat OpenShift
  • DotCloud
  • Amazon CloudFormation
  • VMWare CloudFoundry
  • IBM Workload Deployer
  • Salesforce Heroku
  • Salesforce Force
  • RedHat CloudForms
  • Scalr
  • Rackspace-NASA OpenStack
  • Cloud.com CloudStack
  • VMWare vCloud
  • Microsoft Azure

There was lot of activity in forging partnerships and relationships with small and big vendors alike. IBM’s Amy Anderson presented the IBM Cloud Specialty business partner program to a room full of potential business partners. With five different partner engagement areas there seemed to be a fit for all who were present.

It was a packed four-day stint with information overload and exhaustion but I would do it all over again in a heartbeat. And above all, I had lot of fun tweeting and engaging with fellow “cloudsters,” customers and partners. By end of the fourth day, I had gained 50+ new followers on Twitter, several of my tweets were re-tweeted by the conference organizers and I was featured in the GigaOm event write-up. Never a dull moment in cloud!

(Image courtesy blogs.forbes.com)
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