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Kristi Ibello

As we near the kickoff of Cloud Connect Chicago on October 21 here is a look at the top 5 reasons why you cannot miss this year’s Conference and Expo.

1. Independent Analysis

With dilution of cloud washing and vendor-events, Cloud Connect stands alone as the only vendor-neutral event where you receive independent insight into the cloud ecosystem and separate hype from reality.

2. In-Depth Training and Professional Development

Steering clear of impractical high-level theories and self-promotion found at other events, at Cloud Connect you can choose from Summits, Boot Camps, and individual breakout sessions including real-life use cases and “how to’s” to help you drive immediate action with your cloud projects.

3. Community and Networking

Cloud Connect is dedicated to building a community of technology and cloud practitioners across a wide variety of verticals. Immerse yourself and get inspired in a community of practice, sharing, teaching and learning that will supercharge not just your skill sets, but your cloud strategy. Join peers from companies including:

Wells Fargo    City of Los Angeles     Salesforce.com     Hilton Worldwide

Bank of America    Microsoft    Thomas Reuters  JPMorgan Chase

University of Chicago   Live Nation    AT&T   Canon U.S.A., Inc.

4. Subject Matter Experts

Cloud Connect attracts the best and brightest innovators in the industry. Attend over 50+ sessions and Keynotes from presenters hand-picked based on their knowledge and accomplishments.

5. Cloud Stack Wars

Attend over three days of lectures, panels and roundtable discussions on topics like CloudStack, OpenStackAWS, Virtualization, and Private Clouds. Cloud Connect is the only venue where you can see cloud’s top vendors duke it out.

Register by September 16 to save up to $500 off an All Access Pass for all 3 days of actionable content, invaluable connections and see why Cloud Connect is the must attend cloud event of the year.

 
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An entry by Dave Roberts, Virtualization and Private Clouds Track Chair at Cloud Connect.

It’s a “coming of age” story, really. The cloud computing movement is reaching a new stage in its evolution. Many early clouds were built on top of existing server virtualization systems, with the primary objective of demonstrating the underlying technologies. Having proven that cloud computing works, enterprises are now looking to graduate to clouds that will support the long-term, production needs of the business; they are looking to build professional-grade clouds that will carry them the full distance. But that then begs the question, what makes a cloud “professional-grade?”

I see three primary differentiators that characterize professional-grade clouds:

  1. The ability to deliver a range of services to the broad group of end-users served by IT. Overwhelmingly, the first use-case targeted by most cloud pilots is software development and testing. Software development is a natural fit for cloud computing since developers and testers usually have a spikey demand for infrastructure, which makes the economic model a no-brainer. Further, these early users are quite technical, and so any rough spots in the cloud user-interface can be overlooked to keep the pilot project on track. But the simple user-interfaces delivered during the pilot phase typically don’t work well as the cloud moves to production and the user base expands to include non-technical business users. Instead, you’ll want a self-service interface that even a marketing intern could love, an interface that can deliver more than raw developer building blocks like Windows or Linux virtual machines. You’ll need a service catalog with user authentication, role-based access control, and the ability to provision complete, fully-configured end-user applications like Sharepoint, wikis, and collaboration tools.
  2. The ability to support the diverse set of cloud platforms required by the enterprise, both current and future. Many early clouds were built as mere extensions of the existing server virtualization platform already deployed at the time. Take virtualization, add a self-service interface, and you’re done! That’s a reasonable decision for a pilot program or technology demonstration, but it won’t go the distance. A professional-grade cloud will use a real cloud management platform to insulate cloud users from all the underlying implementation choices, making it easy to build hybrid clouds based on a variety of underlying implementation technologies: VMware vSphere, Microsoft Hyper-V, Citrix XenServer, OpenStack, a variety of public cloud providers, and even bare metal. Further, we all know that needs and technologies will evolve over time; a professional-grade cloud anticipates that future change and takes it in stride.
  3. Integration with IT processes and systems needed by the business. Most early clouds are built with clean-sheet design principles, implemented as independent islands outside normal IT processes and not integrated with existing systems. This allows the pilot project to get up and running quickly and to remain uncluttered by traditional IT thinking. Over time, however, the enterprise needs to be able to manage the performance, capacity, security, and change capabilities of the cloud, just as it does today with physical and virtualized infrastructure. Does this mean weighing down your nice, sleek, agile new cloud with two-tons of ITIL? No, not necessarily. Well-built, enterprise-class clouds cooperate with other IT systems, delivering the appropriate I-dotting and T-crossing with integration and automation so that enterprise compliance requirements and business policies remain enforced.

Now that cloud computing is growing up and going mainstream, it’s time that we got past the pilots and demos and started building professional-grade clouds that can meet real needs across the business, built for the long haul. We can leverage all the work we have done with those early projects and move them forward, building the advanced set of capabilities that will serve as the foundation moving forward.

Register for Cloud Connect Chicago with priority code SMBlog and save up to $500* on your All Access or Conference Pass.

*Discount calculated based on the on-site price and not combinable with other offers. Offer good on new registrations only. Prices after discount applied: All Access: $1,699.00 Conference: $1,299.00, Keynote & Expo Only: Free

 
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Each year at Cloud Connect, we try to look ahead to what the next twelve months hold. To many of us, the future was really the removal of the word “cloud.” Just as “web applications” are now just “applications”, so technologies like “cloud storage” are just “storage.” Similarly, cloud computing will soon just be “computing.”

Does that mean the future of something like Cloud Connect is simply “connect”? Sort of. New technologies are seldom interesting in their own right. Rather, they’re interesting for what they make possible.

Y-Combinator founder Paul Graham describes a startup as an organization designed for rapid growth—and he means rapid. He wants to see a 5-10% increase in users or revenues every week for companies within his accelerator. While he says that startups aren’t necessarily technology, it’s very likely that they are. That’s because technology does two things:

  • It disrupts a market. There’s not much new about Uber driving people around. We’ve had taxis for centuries. But the ubiquity of mobile applications with location awareness is new, and that’s disrupting a big market quickly. So technology can trigger a rapid change in an existing market. Growth.
  • It makes a new market. The online search industry didn’t exist twenty years ago. Today, it’s worth billions. Technology creates entirely new businesses even as it leaves old ones crumbling. 3D printing might usher in an era of manufacturing at the edge, even as it destroys traditional just-in-time logistics.

And this is why clouds are interesting. Not in their own right—they’re rapidly becoming another tool in the IT toolbox, albeit an extremely flexible one. Clouds are interesting because they make computing frictionless. They allow organizations of any size to achieve the kinds of scale and growth Graham demands of the companies he helps launch.

A couple of years ago, we joked that “big data gives clouds something to do.” There’s a lot of truth to this. Big Data itself isn’t new—and it isn’t mounting the peak of a hype curve, despite what Gartner says. Big Data has been around for ages, as anyone from a company like Teradata, IBM, Oracle, or Microsoft will tell you. What’s new about big data is the democratization of analysis. Anyone who runs a Facebook Graph Search today has more power, and more access, than any three-letter-agency in Washington dared dream of a decade ago.

And powerful, democratized analysis is a game-changer for society. It’ll alter how we work and play; how we learn and love; and how we make decisions. All because of cloud computing, which provides the elastic, on-demand undercarriage for vast analysis.

In the Futures and Disruptions track at Cloud Connect this spring, Cascade Insights’ Sean Campbell will lay out four possible futures for cloud computing in the next few years, encouraging IT professionals to hedge their bets. Allan Leinwand, whose career spans executive technology roles at Cisco, Digital Island, Zynga, and Servicenow, predicts where cloud platforms are headed. And serial entrepreneur Margaret Dawson joins Savvis’ Ed Saipetch to speculate on the future of data—and whether it’s headed for anarchy or trust.

It promises to be a fascinating look at where technology is headed, even as clouds themselves quietly blend into the fabric of everyday computing.

 

 
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