F5 Expo: Cloud Computing Session

Howie Wu, Co-Founder & CEO at LayerBoom Systems
The cloud computing session included the following panelists:

  • Howie Wu, Co-Founder and CEO at LayerBoom Systems
  • Mark Cunningham, Co-Founder and CEO at Indicee
  • Ryan Storgaard, Director of Cloud Computing Services Strategy at Microsoft  – no link required 😉

The first question posed by the moderator, Rajan Sodhi, VP Marketing at Peer 1, was “What is cloud computing?”

Howie suggests we view the Youtube video on Water Vapour. He then gives us one of the best cloud computing definitions I have ever heard. He explains that it is the 3rd generation of computing. The first generation was mainframe computing – one computer, many users and everyone shares resources. The second generation was personal computing – one computer, one user. The third generation is cloud computing – network storing, a shift caused by the internet with such sites as Flickr and Gmail.

Mark agrees with Howie’s definition and elaborates by saying businesses benefit because of the scalability; they don’t care about how it works, as long as it works. He refers to cloud computer as a “black box”.

Ryan says he struggles to define the cloud. He says he is more concerned with what does it mean our businesses. Which he says is not being locked into a long term contract.

Howie tells us cloud computing turns your fixed costs into your variable costs.

The second question is around security concerns around the cloud.

Howie tells us your virtual machine is as secure as your local machine. He uses the example of Salesforce and how much of your customers personal information you store with them in cloud and the success they have had.

He uses the analogy of having a server is like having a kid–you have to feed it and pay to keep it around–virtual server takes this risk away.

Ryan Storgaard - Director of Cloud Services Strategy, Microsoft Canada

Mark says he uses the amazon cloud, then places their applications on-top of it. So his system has two levels of security: their application security and Amazon’s. He mentions that in the later we are really talking about one of the most powerful data centre’s that has “fort knox” type security compared to the one in your basement.

The third and final question from the moderator was: Data Failure in Clouds – how can we avoid this?

Ryan starts off by suggesting your service level agreement mentions up-time. He also mentions that Microsoft has set up the cloud system so that if you hate the experience you can easily go back.

Howie suggests you look at the cost of putting together your own infrastructure and see if that outweighs the risk cost. He mentions with a cloud computing solution you will still need to maintain your system, just all the old fixed costs will become variable costs. Howie clarifies that the companies like his are really just cloud enablers, mentioning that people don’t realize they are already using cloud services like Flickr. Howie feels that the move to the cloud is inevitable. That people will eventually get used to the concept because of the accessibility and affordability and just like when we used to have issues putting our credit card online we will get over these insecurities.

Mark believes that the consumer world will drive where the business world goes. New generations expect the software to work (Serena note: this is true based on work done by Gord Hotckiss in the Buyershere Project), not the cryptic stuff that we are dealing with now as their are lots of issues to be deal with.

Ryan also mentions the “millennial generation” and the questions they have about Sharepoint: ”so you are trying to make this like the Facebook of the company?”

The panel wraps up pretty quickly. I thought the session was very interesting and well put together. It might have been nice to have someone on the panel with an opposing view, but overall worth the time.opposing view — but overall worth the time.