The highlight of this year’s OSCON is a stronger focus on issues related to cloud computing. This was evident from a full day event in the form of Cloud Summit on this topic. This event was organized by Simon Wardley, formerly of Canonical and now a researcher at Leading Edge Forum (CSC), and John Willis from Opscode. The idea behind Cloud Summit is to explore the topic around cloud computing and debate on some of the contentious topics around standards and open source. From this perspective, this event was a huge success. In this post, I will highlight some of the key points from the discussion.
The day started with a talk on whether enterprises are ready for the cloud and followed by a talk on Security and Identity by Subra Kumarasamy of eBay. One of the key point he highlighted is about the FUD surrounding the cloud security.
Security should not be hampering any move to the cloud but focus on mitigating risks and enabling businesses
I agree with him philosophically. Yes, cloud security is an important problem facing us today. But there is an equally vigorous FUD going on about them. We need to focus on mitigating the risks facing the cloud than playing games around the issue of security.
This was followed by a great talk by John Willis of Opscode on how operations is going to play a big role in establishing competitive efficiency. Patrick Kerpen of CohesiveFT followed it up by busting some of the cloud myths from their perspective. This was followed by a talk by Stephen O’ Grady of Redmonk where he addressed important issues around standards and portability. One point with he highlighted and is very important is
The biggest problem with the clouds that there is no agreement between customer needs and vendor needs
He talked about a point I also highlight regularly in this space. Open Source operates on a different dynamics than proprietary markets. It is time for proprietary vendors and pundits used to proprietary thinking to understand this difference. It will put an end to many FUD and outright dismissals of open source. This was followed by an insightful talk by J.P. Rangaswami on the future of the cloud and one by Dion Hinchcliffe where he connected Enterprise 2.0 with the Cloudmania.
The most interesting part of the event came in the afternoon where presidential type debates were held on some contentious topics. The first one was a debate between Sam Johnston and Benjamin Black on whether there is a need for standards in the cloud. Sam argued strongly for a need for standards immediately as a way to empower the users of the cloud but Benjamin countered it with eloquent argument against standards saying they kill innovation. Instead he argued that adoption is more important and it will lead to further and further innovation. Jury sided with Mr. Black but I am with Sam on this one. The second debate is also a topic closer to my heart and one which I have addressed again and again in this space. It is about whether open APIs are enough or do we need open source. George Reese was arguing that open standards are good enough for world based only on services. James Duncan defended the need to have open source in the cloud based world. Jury sided with James on this topic. In my opinion, it is not about open API or Open Source but it is “open API and open source”. There are variety of reasons to justify this argument but one I consider more important (and one that is more philosophical) is that open source is a necessity to establish an open federated cloud ecosystem and such an ecosystem is crucial for stopping any player from getting a monopoly status that not only derails innovation but also impedes customers’ rights.
This was followed by an open source panel on open source and cloud computing. Simon did a good job of getting panelists representing diverse approaches to computing. James Urquhart of Cisco was representing the proprietary community, Marten Mickos of Eucalyptus representing the Open Core community, Rick Clark and Neil Levine representing open source. The discussion was interesting but knowing my inherent bias towards open source over proprietary technologies, I am pretty convinced that Rick Clark made a great argument for the importance of open source.
The last session was an interesting series of talk by Kate Craig-Wood on the government clouds and Tim O’ Reilly on the information revolution. The day was capped with an elite panel discussing the future of cloud computing. I do know that they recorded the day’s event and if you can find them anywhere, I strongly urge you to watch it.