Last week I ran the first of a lengthy series of Australasian CloudCamps – this one was in Auckland, New Zealand.
When I first started telling people that I was running the events, I was pretty stunned at the buy-in: both from potential sponsors and from attendees. It seems that 2010 is going to be a big year – two factors would seem to account for this, firstly that we’re coming out of a recession and the barriers to expenditure are finally coming off and secondly that every man and his dog, from start-ups to traditional vendors, are positioning themselves to deal in this brave new world.
This fact was borne out by the organizations that chose to sponsor the event – from platinum sponsor Gen-i, an ICT product and service company that is a subsidiary of New Zealand’s largest telco, to the companies who took gold-level sponsorships: salesforce.com, VMWare, Microsoft and enStratus, through to those who chose to support in other ways, Intergen, Zendesk and the University of Auckland, it really was a well supported event.
There were some incredibly interesting discussions – local lawyer Rick Shera led a remarkably interesting and, at times, passion filled session looking at the jurisdictional and general legal implications of the cloud. While a few participants asked why we’re asking these sorts of existential questions that have been asked time and again over the past decade or so, I believe that the fact that attendees still have concerns around this stuff shows that, despite what many would say – the legal implications of the cloud, encompassing distribution of data, outsourcing of processing and less certainty of where and how data is actually stored, all result in a clear uncertainty and reticence to embrace the benefits.
We talked about privacy and security and the trade off that those who chose to use “free” services make (given that these “free” services are monetized through other, and sometimes less transparent, means) – this discussion was put in a “who’s less evil of the bigcos” question with many attendees expressing far greater concern over Google’s approach (free apps with a potential dark side) compared to Apple’s (proprietary and inflexible attitudes and a paid-for service but arguably a more “open” approach).
We had some really interesting (and frankly a little depressing) discussions about the ability or otherwise that New Zealand has to compete in this new world and the opportunity for cloud companies here to succeed – it was really great to have the founders of both VendHQ (an interesting startup to watch – someone doing SaaS in an entirely new space) and Litmos (another interesting start-up from downunder) along to give their perspectives on the startup space.
We talked around the usual barriers-to-adoption issues – and looked at how governance, IT concerns and connectivity issues all impact negatively on the willingness of organizations to adopt the cloud.
And finally (and unavoidably) we talked about the private cloud vs public cloud debate – we had a few dogmatic types who discounted the entire private cloud concept, while others were much more accepting of the trend.
All in all an excellent event – many thanks to the sponsors and the attendees and a special shout out to Anne Bilek from enStratus for her logistical help on the ground. Next CloudCamp is on Thursday in Sydney, it’s still not too late to register, you can do so here.