Cloud Camp Brussels

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cloudCloud Camp Brussels. Who in IT hasn’t heard about The Cloud ? Like any successful buzz-word, it’s short, it’s sweet, it sells. Like my peers, I’d tried out the Amazon offering (S3, EC2, …). I’d been meaning to have a closer look for a while, and last night was an opportunity.

The evening took place on a boat on the canal in Brussels (nice). It started with a keynote by Tarry Singh – who is obviously very smart, but has trouble translating this into a structured speech. Or maybe he just wanted to cram too much into his limited time-slot. Something about economics and the cloud taking off, anyway.

After this there was a panel discussion by five people from different sponsoring companies. Q-layer, Microsoft (surprise guest after this week’s announcement of Azure), Salesforce, Cohesive FT, and ITricity.

This was interesting, because what emerged was a better definition of the “Cloud” concept. There seem to be several definitions – which is not that surprising, considering the metaphorical nature of the name. 1. cloud computing is the offering of excess IT capacity (processing, disk space …) to external buyers, a bit like an electricity provider could sell overcapacity to neighbouring suppliers on demand. As such, it’s a business model, not a technology (“web hosting”) 1. the geeky cloud: the group of not-so-new technology, virtualization, DNS, tools, networking allowing this kind of trade 1. the cloud is software as a service. This is the definition Microsoft, Salesforce, and Amazon adhere to, since they offer services (though Amazon is an edge case)

In fact, this mix of definitions explained the variety of people present yesterday. Marketing people (suits) from companies selling tools for making a cloud for data center owners, companies selling cloud type 1, and companies selling cloud of type 3. Then, for 2, there were virtualization geeks and curious geeks like myself. So far, the signal-to-noise ratio was still pretty low. The lightning talks changed the balance somewhat.* AServer, a belgian company, talked about offering desktop on the cloud by selling cloud to ISPs

  1. Quest Software: interesting talk about how much power a data center consumes, and how we will need to start paying attention to energy costs. How developers will start evaluating their code on transactions/Watt.

  2. Zimory (Philipp Huber) talked about how cloud computing should become as easy, reliable, have as transparent pricing as electricity before the revolution can really happen

  3. Microsoft (Luk Van De Velde) described the layers of services Azure offers to developers

  4. Amazon (Martin Buhr) went over a few successes of Amazon, some impressive names like the New York Times (archiving 150 years of newspapers in a week-end), NASDAQ …

  5. Raphael Bauduin talked about how Open Source made the cloud possible (yay for Raphael :–) )

After that there was beer and fries to be had, and networking to be done. I talked with some of the above, but also with Matt Rechenburg of OpenQRM, Toon Vanagt and Kris Buytaert who were there for virtualization.com, the founders of Babelgom, Christof Ameye from J4S, Diego MariƱo from abiquo

Anyhow, quite an interesting evening, though i wouldn’t have minded a few more technical details – these talks were obviously intended for business people.
The cloud is clearly taking on the momentum indicative of hype, and so it’s the time for large businesses to scope it out, and then use it as a hammer for everything that looks like a nail. Before being disappointed and moving on to the next poetic metaphor. But I digress.

Also nice: the international aspect of the gathering. Quite a few dutch people, some americans, some english, and one spanish person. We should have more of these.