I went across to the Cloud Expo at the Barbican. Not a huge event; not crowded by any means. There was a small set of exhibitors and some conference tracks with both business and technical sessions. Probably more people looking to see what a cloud was rather than those that were using it in earnest. I didn’t need to spend all day there, but I did see a couple of useful technical overview sessions from Simone Brunnozi of Amazon and Simon Wardley of Canonical, who support the Ubuntu software distribution.
The conference was in one of the small Barbican side halls. It had a few hosting companies there who are now offering Cloud type facilities in the same as the bigger names. IBM had a stand there, but more I think for the executives coming through, than the techies, judging by the questions being asked.
The talk from Simone Brunozzi was a high level talk but still of interest. He certainly made it sound as though Amazon were doing a professional job, although some in the hall were suggesting that it was a good place for testing the theory but come to a real hosting company when you want the best resilience. Simone talked through a lot of slides that revolved around resilience and designing for failure; does that show some implications as far as up time is perceived? One slide quote Werner Vogels Amazon CTO as saying “Everything fails, all of the time”! (Almost Ratner like)
He talked through these ideas,
I need to look more into the SQS messaging and the SimpleDB system, as well as looking at how to backup some of the Confluence data that I’m using. Simone’s slides are on SlideRocket or http://bit.ly/aws.expo or find the details on all their services at aws.amazon.com .
I listened to Sam Johnston from Australian Online Solutions talking about the Open Cloud Computing Interface (the Cloud API) but it looked as though I could get the information from the website, so I ducked out and went to Simon Wardley’s talk instead. Simon runs Canonical who are the big supporters of the Ubuntu linux distribution. I installed that a while ago on an old laptop and was pleasantly surprised by how straightforward it was, so that drew me in. Turns out that they are now pushing the Eucalyptus system as a way to set up an in-house Cloud system which emulates Amazon. They are trying to set up an open Cloud standard and so have taken Amazon’s version as being a good de facto standard to begin with. In theory an image should be loadable into both the Amazon EC2 cloud and into Eucalyptus in an identical way.
Simon’s talk was entertaining, but also an intriguing talk comparing the similarity of how electricity went from being new to becoming ubiquitous to the movement of computing to becoming commoditised in a Cloud version of the National Grid. In order to stay competitive, a company needs to continue to innovate. It needs to move faster than everyone else (like the Red Queen hypothesis in Alice in Wonderland). He proposed that the rate of evolution of a system is directly related to the organisation of its sub-systems. I’ll need to check ours. Creative destruction seems a phrase that could well fit. Look for more about Eucayptus at Ubuntu.com/ec2 and ubuntu.com/cloud, then learn about their cloud systems at the Eucalyptus pages. After putting an image up on EC2, I might try using this. Maybe I should have waited for Dave Walker’s talk on putting up Eucalyptus, but I needed to be elsewhere in the afternoon. I’ll just have to catch up on the blog or the wiki.
All in all an interesting day. I had a good chat with Jon Hall, which was an interesting reflection of days gone past compared to the future of the Android developments. He was talking on the Koolu stand who sell an open Android phone (all the software is open source) which can use any sim card. I also talked with someone about Zimbra, an interesting piece of software that handles messaging and collaboration for some quite large companies. Interesting, but one of those projects that is added to the end of the list of things that I know I should look at.