Empire State of Mind: A Walk in the Clouds in New York City

If you’re like me and wondered just how much “cloud computing” resonates with an enterprise IT audience, you would have found an answer in New York City last week. The answer is a resounding confirmation that cloud computing is no longer this fanciful idea the future of computing. In fact, it lives and breathes in the here and now. I found leaders of industry in full attendance last week, including those from banking and financial services, major airlines, media and entertainment conglomerates, publishing, pharmaceuticals, and even major church organizations. They all flocked to the Jacob K. Javitz Convention Center to find their place in the cloud computing ecosystem. This week was a clear departure from years past; few and far between could be heard expressing confusion and wondering aloud – as did one kind gentleman from Poland, “Vat iss diss clooouuuud???” While he may have been confused, he was certainly in the right place at the right time to get his question answered.

Whereas mature, moribund markets tend to produce trade shows with bizarre marketing spiels and models in the booths, one of the hallmarks of nascent, dynamic markets is the sheer number of people looking for – and providing – meaty information. Between CloudCamp, the Cloud Expo conference sessions, the RightScale User Conference and Partner Connection, and the Amazon Web Services (AWS) Summit, one could get a well-rounded view of all facets of cloud computing in one location, in one week. Cloud Expo itself was spectacular – add in the co-located events, the multitude of educational tracks and factor in the approximated collective energy and IQ of the audience and you have a culmination of brain power that put this week well over the top from a cloud intelligence perspective.

If you haven’t previously attended a CloudCamp session I highly encourage you to get on this cloud, attend and participate. A lot of information is shared at camp track sessions, and in the evenings there are five minute lightning talks given by some of the vendors who help sponsor the camps. The lightning talks are a good way to hear about new technology and ask questions directly to cloud product providers. Additionally, impromptu panels are assembled based on attendee subject matter interest. This panel consists of you – the attendee – and other subject matter experts in attendance. I can tell you from personal experience that CloudCamp is worth the time and investment.

Cloud Expo gave attendees a great overview of the cloud ecosystem by virtue of the diversity of vendors on the expo floor. Walking through the exhibits, there were cloud services, software, hardware, and cloud management vendors giving their own particular cloud-y points-of-view. Our own booth was mobbed by hundreds of IT professionals looking for an elastic storage solution that could handle additional capacity as needed, regardless of infrastructure platform. We were happy to be able to tell folks that we run on any infrastructure – public cloud, private cloud and even hybrid clouds.

In the photo above, I explain the concept of “a NAS file server in the cloud” (AWS) to a Cloud Expo Conference attendee. That’s me in one of my colorful shirts I’m known for wearing at industry conferences and trade show.

In this photo, area sales Manager Rich Nave and Product Marketing Manager Heather Wellington explain Gluster deployments within virtual machine environments and in the data center on bare metal.

The RightScale User Conference provided attendees with a wealth of information on more effective and efficient cloud infrastructure deployment and management. RightScale’s Partner Connection meeting at the ACE hotel resulted in a collective of RightScale partners who had previously not had the opportunity to meet. The results of this kind of meet-up are new and creative solutions for users – and I can tell there are a few new solutions being discussed even as I write this blog. Additionally, RightScale hosted a cocktail party for everyone – user conference attendees and partners alike. The rooftop party at the Gansevoort New York City hotel provided the perfect venue for a mix of cloud conversations and cocktails. If you attend the RightScale User Conference this fall, or next spring in New York, I highly encourage you to attend the cocktail party and dive into conversation with some of the industry’s most talented cloud technologists.

Capping off the week was the AWS Summit at the midtown Hilton hotel. This was our first AWS Summit, and we were glad to spend time speaking with well over 1,000 attendees. AWS did a great job providing updates on their infrastructure and methodologies to better leverage their offerings. It was great to see so many AWS solutions partners there with us explaining how they fit within the AWS cloud. In simple terms, Gluster provides a NAS file server in the AWS cloud which can be deployed in minutes, scaled to petabytes and support synchronous and asynchronous data replication. We are also participating in the AWS Summit in San Francisco on June 21st at the Westin St. Francis hotel. Here’s a link to the summit:

http://aws.amazon.com/about-aws/aws-summit-2011/ We hope to see you there!

But back to NYC. We were happy to see that the Jacob K. Javitz Conference Center is undergoing remodeling and the whole area around the conference center is under redevelopment. New hotels, restaurants and even a new subway station leading right to the foot of the conference center are planned for opening in 2012.

I’ll leave you with one final thought. When companies and individuals set out to innovate, anything is possible. AWS has proven this by deploying what is arguably the standard in emerging cloud infrastructure. RightScale has proven that innovation can lead to a better way to manage the emerging cloud. Now, with innovation in cloud storage from Gluster, there is a better way to do storage – a better way to deploy, scale, manage and protect your businesses life blood…its information. We are proud to be a part of the new wave of innovation in cloud computing. Hope to see you soon and talk to you about all the great things happening with Gluster.

Tom