Xconomy cloud computing event

I had the pleasure of speaking on a panel about cloud computing today in Boston. The panel was part of a conference on the subject hosted by Xconomy in Akamai‘s wonderful facilities in Kendall Square. One of the things that jumped out was that there absolutely is no consensus of what cloud computing is, an observation made by Josh Coates, who pointed to the currently fluffy state of the Wikipedia page on the subject.

John Landry did a great job moderating the panel and keeping things lively – he had some particularly good observations in his opening remarks about some of the key forces behind cloud computing (no matter what your definition is), including open source software, cheap hardware and virtualization (plus two more that I can’t remember). However, I think the most important factor that will determine your ability to join any kind cloud computing program is your system architecture. It’s one thing to be able to spin up 100 virtualized Linux boxen on EC2, but it’s quite something else to be able to integrate those dynamically into a running system. If you can’t do that, then you’re at a disadvantage (I made the point that we at StyleFeeder have 100 databases in production and that we can very easily move those around to scale up our data tier). John also talked about the gradual move away from traditional relational databases to key/value stores, which prompted some good discussion.

The conference was full of people who were clearly interested in the subject matter, but it seemed like many of them haven’t yet taken the plunge. Contrast that with another talk that I gave this morning at the Yale Entrepreneurial Institute: how many of these students had heard of EC2? Pretty much all of them who are doing software startups. Not surprising. I bet most of them are using virtualized systems of some flavor.

Cloud computing seems to be on everybody’s radar screens these days, even if nobody seems to have a clear idea of what it is.

(Elias and Yoav were also at the cloud computing event, but Elias left early because he’s lame.)


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