CloudCamp Montreal

Last Friday, I’ve attended the first CloudCamp event here in Montreal. Being more experienced in traditional systems and services administration, I was very intrigued about what would be the main interests and concerns of the Cloud’s early adopters. But first, to get there, we first need to agree on what is Cloud Computing.

The Definition of Cloud Computing

The NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology) came out with a very good definition (original document can be found here):

“Cloud computing is a model for enabling convenient, on-demand network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources (e.g., networks, servers, storage, applications, and services) that can be rapidly provisioned and released with minimal management effort or service provider interaction. This cloud model promotes availability […]”

Simply put, the five essential caracteristics of a Cloud are:

  • On-demand self-service;
  • Broad network access;
  • Resources pooling;
  • Rapid elasticity;
  • Measured service.

Security concerns

The main question business owners should ask themselves when they switch to the cloud is “how much money will I loose if this thing goes down?” (because, yes, it could). While the technologies put in place by major Cloud Computing providers is very good, switching is always a trade between flexibility and control. Before going cloud, a few questions should be asked:

  • Will my system be secure?
  • Will my system be fast and available? (enough bandwidth for your needs?)
  • Does my system requires specific customizations the provider won’t support?

In business context, this should always be viewed more from a business perspective more than a tech-trends perspective. Those risks can be calculated.

There are also many legal issues. Remember that your data can be stored anywhere in the World and the ability to define where you want it to be hosted is not supported by all providers. For instance, if your data is stored in the US, it is subject to the Patriot Act.

Conclusion

The conversation about security was obviously the main topic of the event. Environment (power consumption, cooling, etc.), application development and management (systems, people, etc.) could have been more discussed. Hope that by next year, most of those security concerns will have been solved by robust and proven solutions so we can dive into other very interesting subjects.

As a side note, Nicolas Roberge posted on his blog cool pictures of the event.

Picture by Thomaz Scalquo Cia

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