Hovering the clouds - 2nd Annual Cloud Computing Summit

“It’s bright and sunny in the cloud front”. Lux Rao, National Manager –Cloud Consulting Services, HP, quipped, starting the proceedings of Virtue Insight’s 2nd Annual Cloud Computing Summit with a bang, bringing out the beautiful oxymoron which describes the present state of the cloud. While Cloud Computing has gone far beyond being a fad, the picture is still cloudy if we bring in the challenges involved in implementation. Lux pointed out that while what of cloud computing has been settled, the question of when and how still remains.

Narsipur Amarnath, Senior Architect, Yahoo addressed the first morning session on how Cloud Computing can be used to address Internet scale computing needs. He pointed at the inevitable fixed budget trade-off, essential in balancing Agility and Stability. With more than 38,000 servers and 170 peta bytes of storage, he walked the audience through the Cloud Architecture with Hadoop Clusters. Internet Scale encompassed handling asymptotic behavior for corner cases & boundary conditions to cope with the increasing complexity of the systems.

Social Enterprise
The energy levels surged as Steve McWhirter, Senior Vice President, Enterprise Sales, Asia Pacific, Salesforce took over the podium in front of a visibly excited audience to deliver his key note on “Cloud 2- The Next Generation of Cloud Computing”. Steve pointed out how cloud computing represented the natural progression from Mainframe to Client-server. He pointed out its cost advantages, as companies are able to reduce their Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) by 54%. He also highlighted the impending shift from Waterfall to Agile development.

“In a social enterprise, you can become a friend of documents”, Steve teased amusingly, showcasing the amazing possibilities that emerge from harnessing social technologies within enterprises. He also brought to light Cloud’s greener side as it is 95 % more energy efficient than on-premise systems. “We are entering the Post-PC apps era”, Steve declared, with the growth of next generation devices. He pointed out to a Salesforce study titled, Post PC revolutions – Is India Inc ready? which stated that India would have 205 million mobile workers by 2015.

Telcos hovering around the Cloud
This was followed by a panel discussion on Driving telcos in the cloud-space, moderated by Sridhar T Pai, CEO, Tonse Telecom. Sethu Madhavan Srinivasan, Director Marketing and Strategy, Huawei Telecommuncation addressed the need to bridge the Web 2.0 world with the Telecom world, who are no longer satisfied with the traditional plumbing role, through a social Community Map layer. With live examples, he talked about Huawei’s Single Cloud, which unifies the Service Cloud with the Enterprise Cloud. He used the metaphor of a digital shopping mall to explain the nature of Single Cloud. He pointed out that the transformation of IP based networks to Cloud remained one of the big challenges. Lux Rao corroborated the evolution of telecom, which once used to run last mile operations, has shifted towards distribution of IT services. He advised the telcos to invest ahead of the curve.

“The journey to the cloud has to be a holistic journey involving the transformation of the organization”, Lux Rao shared from his personal experience over the challenges involved in adopting the Cloud. The discussion veered towards the standardization, which went together with openness, as the panelists enthused about DMTF and SNIA's cloud efforts. The panelists voiced their support towards an Open Cloud Architecture based on X86 hardware.To an audience comment about the organic evolution of technology, the panelists opined that the regulatory environment also played a major role in deciding the course of evolution

ERP on Cloud

Shyaam Sunder, Chief Knowledge Officer, Ramco Systems addressed the drivers behind the shifting to Cloud. In response to the debate on standardization, he averred that markets often do not wait for standards in perfecting the solutions offered in the cloud. He recollected the pioneering efforts of IONA towards standardization of the erstwhile CORBA architecture. He highlighted the transition from time dependency to time sensitivity, approaching towards Time Criticality. He showcased Ramco’s gateway products such as Zero Touch and Switch-on Analytics, which enable enterprises to take baby steps towards the cloud world. He contrasted the ERP implementation of the yesteryears with the Cloud, where firms, which previously had to implement ERP first in order to install Analytics, now could switch on Analytics as they proceeded with the implementation.

While integration is implemented today through EDI and Web-services, Cloud ERP integration would be WSO2 compliant in the future.He averred that Cloud would be able to bring down the implementation time. He corroborated the benefits of multi-tenancy, standardization and economics of scale, which has been the fundamental compulsion for an organization to move over to the Cloud. Every time the finance minister announces the budget change, the change can be modeled into the application through one central activity for the benefit of the subscribers.

Every firm has a distinctive approach to the Cloud. Private Cloud would be preferred when business model is unique and does not lend itself to easy productization with standard ERP delivery. Business data is not contained in the metadata of the application and products that are available. Vendor is unable to provide resources time-critically. Financial impact of time-criticality would be cost-structure elasticity, being able to pull and push the components into it.

He also introduced Community Cloud, where any group of people can be grouped into a Community Cloud. It is presently used in the Aviation industry to subscribe to the industry specific templates through the Cloud. He advised the need to take baby steps, as and when one is comfortable so that one becomes proficient with using Cloud based solution, either through a general ledger or inventory of purchase applications and then move bigger. One doesn’t have to take the great leap like Lord Hanuman did when he saw the sun up there and thought it to be a big orange.

To an audience question about metadata conceptualization challenge in Cloud, he pointed out that such a challenge exists as there is ambiguity about developing use-cases. The four modes of intermediation-disintermediation, new intermediation and re-intermediation and intermediation-constantly evolve on account of new technology development shifting technologies of today to oblivion. As long as this happens, metadata conceptualization would remain a challenge. It is impossible to completely simulate every use-case that is going to happen in the next ten years. If one could do that, quarter and quarter predictability of profits should also be possible. He categorically asserted that businesses cannot be run like a metronome.

Infrastructure, Deployment and Integration

Ashish Varlekar, Head of Microsoft Practice & Alliance Manager, L&T Infotech walked the audience through a case study which involved successful implementation of a performance management system built over Azure platform. He highlighted the Load Balancing features of PaaS and L&T’s Silver Line application to control and manage PaaS Apps.

Subu Iyer, Section Manager, IPG R&D Hub, HP presented his session on the future of printing in cloud. By 2012, Internet will be the biggest driver of pages, with 35 % of the pages being printed from the Web. He talked at length about Web connected printers which possessed email addresses for printing, and Driverless printers which can print documents anywhere, anytime.

The Afternoon session began with a panel discussion on Evaluating Key Emerging markets for improved strategy, moderated by Mani Doraisamy, Co-Founder & CTO, Orange Scape. Jyotish Kumar Ghosh, Sr. VP & Head IT Services, Sify presented an interesting case study on the deployment of cloud at Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority. Mandar Naik, Director, Platform Strategy, Microsoft talked about cloud’s eventual development that would be defined in terms of one- size-fits-all approach. Mani Doraisamy brilliantly brought the necessary business shift, which is all inclusive, to bring Cloud Computing to the fore with an analogy recollecting Steve Jobs famous words, “We have to let go of this notion that for Apple to live, Microsoft has to die”.

Sudhakar S Marthi, Vice President Sales & Marketing – APAC, Zoho Corporation presented his session on “Cloud Computing for SMEs”. With 14% of SMBs already on cloud and another 10% expected by 2012, cloud is becoming more of a reality for SMBs. He also highlighted few interesting features in ZOHO where mail threads are converted to forum threads and wiki articles.

Pavan Yara, Consultant, Eucalyptus Systems talked about the unique features of Eucalyptus systems and its hypervisor Independence. The ensuing Panel discussion on Infrastructure, Deployment, Integration & Security Strategies focused on the unique challenges in deploying the cloud. Integration has to be upfront activity rather than an afterthought after installation. Mathan Kasilingam, Regional Manager, Systems Engineering, Symantec highlighted the initiatives taken at his firm to provide confidence about security to the clients. The panelists agreed on the need for federated clouds to talk to each other.

In response to an audience question on security strategies in VoIP space, Bikram Barman, Senior Engineering Manager at RSA, Security Division, EMC talked of possibilities of extending private cloud to a public cloud in a secure way. Girish Dave, Head of Core Network Solutions presented interesting case studies in Cloud deployment, ranging from Pudong’s Health Cloud to China Mobile. He stated that deploying cloud required higher operational skill sets.

The final panel discussion on Sharing resources in the cloud value chain brought the legal perspective in the purview of the Cloud. Anu Vaidyanathan, CEO, PatNMarks urged the audience to look at Intellectual Property as a defense card rather than an offense card. She highlighted various examples where big companies have used patents as weapons against the competitors. Mani Doraisamy concluded the session eloquently showcasing the innovator’s dilemma in offering services that have never been offered and the incredible opportunity that lies in providing these services.