Interop 2015 aims to add clarity to the cloud landscape

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This week’s Interop in Las Vegas, the granddaddy of independent technology shows, will underscore just how widely adopted the cloud has become, and how companies are relying on it not just for efficiency, but for innovative business models and rapid application development. It will also address the considerable confusion IT leaders feel when sorting through the many cloud options and features now available to them.

“There is anxiety, there is so much going on, everything is going fast, companies are asking themselves whether they’re making the right decisions with different vendors or tech path,” says Andrew Conry-Murray, the director of content and community for Interop, which runs between April 27 and May 1. “This year, it’s about how do I take full advantage of this technology, how do I make the best use of these options I have in front of me to accelerate my business.”

Cloud Connect, a separate track of events devoted to the cloud at Interop, will spotlight some of the fastest-growing trends, notably containers and microservices, along with key themes critical to the acceleration of enterprise adoption of the cloud, including managing cloud economics, savvy workload migration and, of course, security and compliance.

The mini-conference within Interop will offer around 25 workshops and sessions focused on the cloud, running the entire week of Interop. It features conference sessions from high-profile speakers — including a keynote from Jonathan Murray, the founding partner of Innovia Strategies who previously ran Warner Music Division’s cloud — that offer a peek at how the cloud will evolve in the future. Another keynote from Cisco execs will discuss balancing the demands of developers who want to move quickly against the corporate imperatives of control and security. And new this year, Interop will add intimate interactive roundtables aimed at getting people in the audience involved in sharing first-hand lessons.

The intense interest in technologies such as containers underscores how quickly the cloud is changing. Containers work by virtualizing the operating system and abstracting  applications from the OS, giving companies a great deal of portability and speed. Microservices create services or applications built of parts that are pulled from different places, and linked together through APIs and an orchestration layer. With an ecosystem emerging quickly around containers, startups and established companies alike will showcase their products and services.

“There’s a lot of interest because of the repetition and consistency with which you can deploy applications,” says Greg Keller, chief product officer at JumpCloud, a directory-as-a-service provider. “You can use continuous integration to develop applications and containerize them to deploy en masse.”

JumpCloud was nominated as a finalist in the Best of Interop awards this year for its directory as a service, which securely connects employees with systems through a single cloud-based directory, and does away with the need for on-premise solutions such as Microsoft’s Active Directory. Keller says it’s a recognition of how a massive piece of security is moving to the cloud. “What we’re doing is looking at a historic market in the directory space that was dominated by on-premise stalwarts. If we were building this company five years ago, people would have completely shunned the idea.”

Dovetailing with the notion of how on-premise workloads and applications are moving to the cloud are two other key themes of Cloud Connect: Hybrid cloud in its many forms — whether through multiple cloud providers or public and private cloud — and the orchestration and management pieces necessary to bring all the cloud services together.

“Many (enterprises) are still struggling to define a coherent and comprehensive cloud strategy, one that addresses and encompasses issues like policy, security, compliance, and workload portability,” says Brad Caseman, an analyst at IDC. “Addressing the prioritization of cloud workloads is key. What do you want to run where? What belongs in the private cloud, what will you run in a public cloud, and when will you leverage SaaS?”

The sessions and workshops are aimed at showcasing how tech can address these issues, says Conry-Murray. For instance, “The Cloud Data Lake: Maximizing Business Competitiveness” presented by Vanessa Wilson, CEO, StorReduce will explore how to make the most of the cloud’s large object storage repository. “Planning for Failure,” led by Weston Jossey, head of Operations at Tapjoy will walk through the lessons his company learned about mastering uptime, and “Making Cloud Storage Work for Your Organization,” which includes Michael Forks, IBM’s manager for storage products at SoftLayer, will explore how companies take advantage of cloud storage while managing latency and bandwidth challenges.


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