Cloud Asia 2012, Conference Highlights

CloudAsia 2012 is the second year of the conference co-organized with Singapore’s IDA (Infocomm Development Authority), the summary of 2011 is here and here.  CloudAsia 2012 is a great event to meet the decision makers across the cloud computing eco-system from enterprises, telecom operators, regulators, government agencies, service providers, system integrators and vendors.  The event is much more realistic and practical implementation focused than many other events.  In APAC vendors do not win deals through hype, rather through clear, easy to understand propositions.  IDA’s involvement highlights the strategic importance Asian governments and regulators place on Cloud Computing.  The event ran from 14 to 17 May 2012, I previewed the 2012 conference here, and reviewed my pre-conference workshop here.

The IDA kicked off the event with the announcement of G-Cloud, Singapore’s Government Cloud, nothing to do with Google.  Which will support 127k offices, 15 ministries and 50 boards.  SingTel will be the supplier of G-Cloud.  To promote cloud adoption up to $400k in cloud adoption costs qualify for a 400% tax deduction for enterprises; strong motivation indeed.  This provides strong support to the industry in enabling Singapore to become an APAC cloud hub.  The main challenge Singapore faces is the cost of electricity.  Google sites its data centers in locations where power is cheap, for example in Idaho using hydro power for 3.6c per kWhr compared to 18c per kWhr in Singapore.  Given power is such a dominant cost, the IDA needs to do everything it can to help build domain expertise, as the raw infrastructure will likely migrate to lower power cost regions.

At the end of this article I’ve included a few slides that present some of the highlights from the conference.

Briefly reviewing some of the presentations given:

  • Doug Farber, MD Google APAC.  Reviewed the trends of social / mobile / cloud, and how Google are extending Google+ into the enterprise.
  • Jim Reavis, Cloud Security Alliance (CSA).  Provide an overview of cloud security best practices, and highlighted cloud computing still has a long way to evolve.  A critical point for anyone thinking they have a clear target architecture.
  • Wong Onn Chee, MD Infotect Security.  Highlighted the security gap of outbound data. In 2005-2008 3.6M customer records lost from web servers, in 2009-2011 232M lost records.  Though not specific to Cloud, as many cloud projects include the public web site its a useful time to plug this security gap.
  • Simon West, CMO Softlayer Technologies.  Highlighted the importance of APIs to cloud services and the need for hybrid services, e.g. dedicated servers as well as cloud instances.
  • SME (Small Medium Enterprise) panel discussion.  Most cloud adoption is in larger enterprises. For SME adoption, using existing channels to market, education, a focus on business solutions to specific business problems, and making the solutions off-the-shelf as most SME can not afford system integration.
  • Steve Lee, CIO Changi Airport.  Their hybrid cloud supports 28k people and 200 businesses / agencies.
  • SiTA (Orange Business Services is the CSP partner).  Developed a global cloud which has a 100ms latency target (hence the importance of the network access and data center integration provided by OBS).  They created of a marketplace of apps to support airports / airlines.
  • Tim Grance NIST.  Reviewed the US Government’s aggressive drive into cloud computing.  Reviewed the NIST cloud computing framework which I find best model available.  He highlighted cloud computing is a business not technology decision.  And projects must support a bi-directional migration plan.  He made an interesting point that even a private cloud across a government looks like a public cloud.
  • Bernard Golden, CEO HyperStratus.  Business units in enterprises are driving cloud adoption, the IT department is no longer a monopoly.  Key steps in cloud migration include: hybrid cloud, boomerang applications (Tim Grance referred to it as bidirectional migration), organization-wide project (not just the development team), and support complex app development (e.g. NoSQL and external APIs).
  • Ezhil Arasan Babaraj, CSS Corp.  Identified cloud migration challenges of: vendor lock-in, existing infrastructure, enterprise tools, infrastructure mapping, app migration, legal / standards / compliance.
  • Panel discussion on Privacy and Compliance in the Cloud: Dr Chen Yuanyuan, NUS, highlight two issues of customer protection where she recommended letting the market decide; while for CSP (Cloud Service Providers) regulation is required to provide protection because of the existence of the US Patriot Act which requires international harmonization.
  • Firdaus Monir, Telecom Malaysia.  To deliver end-to-end SLAs we need carrier Ethernet to support cloud services, the MEF (Metro Ethernet Forum) is working on standardization of carrier Ethernet for private clouds.

Some of my take-aways from the conference include:

  • Cloud is simply IT Infrastructure outsourcing, driven by business units using Amazon web services.
  • Focus on the business case and use cases, its a business decision not a technology decision
  • APIs are important to cloud computing for automation and ease of use / integration.
  • Most enterprises are focused on hybrid cloud, 80:20 Private:Public, with a migration towards public where real cost benefits reside.
  • We’re repeating the mistakes of the past in SOA (Service Oriented Architecture): believe don’t think, focus on technology discussions not tactical business discussions and use cases.
  • Security is not the issue, its the loss of control.
  • Key migration issues: Vendor lock-in, existing infrastructure, enterprise tools, infrastructure mapping, app migration, legal / standards / compliance.
  • Appliances like Cloudswitch (recently bought by Verizon) manage migration issues.
  • As with all IT projects “results = people * process * technology”; so if people do not change, or processes do not change, then the result will be zero.
  • Cloud migration planning needs to support bidirectional / boomerang applications, that is development may be in the public cloud while production could be in the private cloud.
  • TOGAF (The Open Group Architecture Framework) have some great tools in identifying workloads, given the specifics on an enterprise, that could be migrated to the cloud.
  • Hype themes of: Big Data (we’ve been here many times before remember, with little discussion on the fundamental issue of data cleanliness (GIGO – Garbage In, Garbage Out)); Social (private Internets where you’re the product on sale); Cloud (IT infrastructure outsourcing); M2M / internet of things (show me the money); and Mobile (confused with portable).  Which are then mashed up in a whizzy vision.  We really need to stop that, and focus on what we can do this year, e.g. talking about how we will all have driverless cars is ignoring the people and process issues, this will take decades if at all, it reminds me of flying car visions from the 1950s.
  • Focus on collaboration, desktop, CRM, analytics, and public-facing web sites for initial workloads to move to the cloud.
  • Education remains critical: visions do not educate, case studies do.