CloudCamp LA Wrap-up

On Wednesday, September 30, we attended the first CloudCamp in Los Angeles – the 44th CloudCamp. Dave Nielsen and a team of 6 volunteers organized the unconference in a record 2 weeks. It was well-attended with most of the 224 registrants showing up and filling the meeting rooms of the Microsoft offices in downtown LA. Sponsors included RightScale, Microsoft Azure, Alestic, Cisco, Axis Technical Group and 3Tera.

CloudCamp LA kicked off with two 5-minute lightning talks. The topic of the first lightning talk was “The Microsoft Cloud”, presented by David Chou, Architect at Microsoft. David started out with a brief overview of the different cloud types: Private (On-Premise), Infrastructure (As-a-Service) and Platform (As-a-Service). David compared Private Clouds with owning a car, Infrastructure-as-a-Service with a rental car and Platform-as-a-Service with public transportation. He stated that the Microsoft Cloud is a mix between Amazon EC2 (Infrastructure-as-a-Service) and Google App Engine (Platform-as-a-Service). The Microsoft Cloud does use virtualization, but the interaction layer for developers and managers is on higher level, similar to Google’s App Engine. David described the Windows Azure Platform as a highly available cloud fabric in a globally distributed Microsoft data centers (~100 ISO/IEC 27001:2005 and SAS 70 Type I and Type II certified) with consumption and usage-based pricing.

The second lighting talk was “Stories from the Trenches”, presented by Uri Budnik, ISV Partner Program Evangelist for RightScale. Uri shared some real use cases about how RightScale customers are using the cloud today. Uri started out with an overview of RightScale. He briefly described RightScale as a multi-cloud management platform that allows a great deal of automation that you otherwise have to do manually, such as autoscaling a cluster of servers based on traffic patterns. Uri mentioned that RightScale has customers that manage hundreds, sometimes over 1,000 servers with just one operations person. To date, more than 600,000 servers were launched on the RightScale Cloud Management Platform by over 20,000 users and hundreds of customers. After the RightScale overview, Uri moved on to real customer stories. The first customer example is Animoto, an online app that creates music videos from photos you upload to their website. Animoto launched a Facebook app in April 2008 that had a huge viral marketing success and as a result, Animoto signed up about 25,000 users per hours at times. In those hours, Animoto scaled from a 40-server deployment to about 4,000 servers to handle the demand. Other example use cases included a major televised movie event that spikes just one day of the year, but it is difficult to predict the traffic, and the website absolutely must work that day. Another use case involved predictable traffic patterns and test & dev scenarios. As a summary, RightScale has many projects in the cloud that are in production and Uri encouraged attendees to give the cloud a chance and kick off a project.

After the lighting talks, Dave Nielsen moderated an ad hoc unpanel with 7 on-the-spot-selected “cloud experts”. Now the cloud experts had to answer a slew of questions from the audience in just one minute per question. Some of the questions included:

– Why should a small company with just 20 already paid-for servers move to the cloud?
– How do I move my ASP.NET app to the cloud?
– Why should companies with a significant infrastructure move to the cloud?
– How can you avoid lock-in?
– How do I keep my data secure?
– Definition of cloud computing
– Can you give a non-technical motivation moving to the cloud?

The following 2 hours were reserved for breakout sessions. Like other CloudCamps, there was no set agenda for the breakout sessions and in a true unconference style the LA attendees were not shy of coming up with many interesting cloud computing topics that were discussed in 35-minute sessions. Some of the topics included:

– Can I run my business 24/7 in the cloud?
– What is a cloud, and why and when should I use it?
– Security, privacy and compliance
– How to build your own cloud?
– How do you scale out data in the cloud?
– How do I move my .net web services to the cloud?
– Economics of cloud computing
– High performance computing in the cloud
– Azure in a nut-shell
– All about Amazon EC2
– How to build my SaaS business on the cloud
– Interoperability in the cloud
– Application and Performance management in the cloud

I was able to attend 3 sessions and the discussions were very lively and all attendees actively participated in the sessions. I was impressed by the quality of questions.

The unconference wrapped up with a summary of all breakout sessions, so that all attendees received an overview on what was discussed and how each of the sessions concluded. Most of the CloudCamp LA discussions were pretty advanced and attendees had a great deal of expertise in cloud computing. I got the impression that a good chunk even had real projects in the cloud. I think this is an indicator that the cloud computing market is maturing and we are seeing a progression from the initial cloud computing hype to real projects.


About RightScale

RightScale is the leader in cloud computing management. Founded in 2006, the company offers a fully automated management platform that delivers the scalable, cost-effective, on-demand power of cloud computing, while providing complete IT control and transparency. The web-based RightScale Cloud Management Platform is available in a range of editions, from the free Developer Edition to Professional Editions. To date, thousands of deployments and over 600,000 servers have been launched on RightScale for leading companies such as Animoto, Playfish, Sling Media and TC3. RightScale is based in beautiful Santa Barbara, California.

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