CloudCamp - The Return

It's been about a year since I last went to CloudCamp. In honour of my return and as an homage to CloudCamp London's compere, Simon Wardley, I have adorned this post with a suitable image. Ta-da! (For those who are bewildered, Simon has a fixation with kittens in his presentations.)

The reason that it's been so long since I attended a meeting (that sounds bad but you know what I mean) is that I found them to be a bit similar and not really relevant to what I was doing at the time. A few changes in personal circumstances also had an effect. But, having recently started a new job where cloud computing is very much a part of it, I felt the time was right to go again. It also helped that the venue for this meeting was in the crypt at St James Church, Clerkenwell – just a 5 minute walk from my office.

Armed with a beer and in the company Mr Radnidge (@vinternals) what follows is a brief overview of the evening (partly at the request of Ed Grigson (@egrigson) and Simon May (@simonster), neither of whom could be there).

Things kicked off with Simon Wardley's presentation. His thoughts about what had recently been bothering him about cloud included a number of slides, themes and thought streams from his presentation to OSCON 2010 (you can see that presentation here or view the slides here) but it wasn't nearly as long. He spent a couple of minutes explaining cloud in terms of Everett Rogers‘ theories around the “Diffusion of Innovations”. Essentially this boils down to new technologies being adopted in a fairly predictable way over time as they evolve and mature.

Assuming that I've interpreted him correctly (remember the beer), cloud services were presented as being at the top end of this curve (i.e. computer consumption is fairly ubiquitous and mature).  The screenshot on the right is the slide that I'm referring to here (the y-axis is ubiquity).

Whilst from a computing perspective that's probably true, if you consider cloud as a separate product type then I'd argue that it is much further down the curve. There is still debate about what cloud is and there is a great deal of innovation still going on. Add to that the adoption of cloud services is fairly low (at least as far as enterprises are concerned) and I think that you end up with a different picture.

That's just my opinion. I could be wrong and I'd be happy to talk at length with anyone on the topic. Don't get me wrong or shoot me though, I still enjoyed the presentation and it's given me a lot to think about on its own.

After that warm up, things moved on to the lightning talks. For the un-initiated these are 5 minute presentations on cloud related subjects that are supposed to be vendor neutral, not about consulting and should avoid lots of speculation about the future.

One of the talks (that got laughs for the wrong reasons – problems with the slide deck) was about trust and security in the cloud. Another was about the Cloud Legal Project, a Microsoft funded but independent study into cloud service contracts. I found this one very interesting not because I'm a closet lawyer or anything but because it's something that's often over-looked and could have quite significant consequences at some point. It could also be a barrier to entry for some enterprises where the cloud is concerned. In fact, it was so well received that it actually ran over its 5 minute slot.

After the lightning talks came the “un-panel”, chaired by Joe Baguley (recently appointed Chief Cloud Technologist at VMware) and featuring volunteers from the audience. Discussion and questions focused heavily on cloud legalities (further evidence that the CLP presentation struck a chord), agility in the cloud, trust / security and the barriers to cloud adoption presented by the older generation.

I'm not going to give a blow-by-blow account of the discussions. I came away though with several things to think about it more depth though. Well worth the time spent in my opinion.

Once the meeting was wrapped up it was beer and pizza time. Time to chat with other attendees and presenters. I got to chat for a while with two alumni (Dan Young and  Dimitri Koutsos) from a hosting company that I used to work for as well as having a long chat with Guy Chapman about a whole range of topics.

Cloud services and solutions are about more than just the technology and it's those bits, the thinking bits, that CloudCamp is for. An evening well spent in my opinion.