Tonight was the first-ever CloudCamp here in Edmonton, an unconference focused on cloud computing. Held at the Shaw Conference Centre, kind of in conjunction with Microsoft’s Tech Days (happening tomorrow and Wednesday), around 60 people attended. Here’s the brief overview:
CloudCamp is an unconference where early adopters of Cloud Computing technologies exchange ideas. With the rapid change occurring in the industry, we need a place where we can meet to share our experiences, challenges and solutions. At CloudCamp, you are encouraged to share your thoughts in several open discussions, as we strive for the advancement of Cloud Computing. End users, IT professionals and vendors are all encouraged to participate.
The format was similar to other unconference events. Moderated by Larry Carvalho, we started with six lightning talks:
- Barnaby Jeans went first and gave an overview of Microsoft’s cloud computing strategy and offerings.
- Associate Professor Paul Lu from the University of Alberta was up next and talked about the university’s proposed adoption of Gmail, its experimentation with Google’s Fusion Tables, and its research work on virtualized RAM.
- Third was Rob Bissett from 6fusion. He talked more about infrastructure-as-a-service as well as the need for consistent price-per-compute units across the industry.
- Li-Yan Yuan, a Professor at the University of Alberta, talked about LogicSQL, which is basically a grid architecture for a DBMS.
- Fifth was Sean Ouimet, who dared to be different and used a flipchart instead of slides to talk about how to design your applications for the cloud so that they scale.
- Last but not least was Timothy Dalby, winner of Make Web Not War, who discussed his application Find-A-Home.
After the lightning talks, Larry asked everyone in the audience to raise their hands if they thought they were an expert in cloud computing. The four guys that raised their hands become the panelists on the “unpanel” (and it was guys…I think there was maybe one woman in the whole audience). Everyone in the audience then had the opportunity to ask questions, which the panel fielded. Larry took notes, and the questions eventually formed the basis for the breakout sessions.
Some of the topics that came up included: geography (where is your data located), multi-tenancy, cost, building a cloud application, and startup opportunities. We ended up breaking into just two separate groups though, one more focused on the business side and one focused more on the technical side.
I decided to join the business group, and for an hour or so we had a really great (not to mention really broad) discussion about the impacts of cloud computing. I had to leave before the two groups came together again, but that was to be the final part of CloudCamp.
One of the more basic questions that arose throughout the evening was the difference between the various “as-a-service” offerings:
I think the Wikipedia articles do a good job of explaining each one, so I won’t expand on that here. I tend to think of it like this: SaaS is something like hosted Exchange, PaaS is something like Azure (which hosted Exchange runs on), and IaaS is something like Amazon S3 (which could host the Azure data).
It was great to see so many people interested in discussing cloud computing! You can see a few more photos from the evening here.