CloudCamp is an un-conference where early adopters of Cloud Computing technologies exchange ideas. With the rapid change occurring in the industry, we need a place where we can meet to share our experiences, challenges and solutions. CloudCamp, encourages end users, IT professionals and vendors to participate and share their thoughts in several open discussions. Cloudcamp is organized in cities across the world .
CloudCamp Pune was held on 5th Feb 2011, hosted at Persistent Systems. The chief organizers were Shreekanth Joshi, Persistent Systems and Larry Carvalho, RobustCloud. The event was sponsored by Clogeny (only local/Pune-based sponsor), Netmagic, Trillion IT solutions, Microsoft Azure, Hexagrid and Tropo. NASSCOM was the in-kind sponsor.
The camp drew around 400+ registrations and around 150+ folks showed up for the conference making it the 3rd largest camp after Brazil and London. Larry Carvalho, was the coordinator on-stage.
As it typical of any event held in Pune, the crowd trickled till around 1045am and the event kicked off officially at 11am. Larry spoke first about Cloudcamp in general followed by which we had a bunch of lightning talks by all the sponsors. Persistent first spoke about the potential challenges customers will face while they try to migrate to the cloud. Trillion Tech followed talking more about the work Trillion Tech does than Cloud Computing. Interestingly they have deployed their private cloud offering in the US Federal Department of Treasury. Microsoft gave their regular Azure pitch where now folks can deploy non-.NET apps as well (like PHP/Python or Java based apps). Microsoft made quote: “SQL Azure is the only Relational DB in the cloud” – which is highly debatable. Clogeny, then gave their lightning talk about products they are working on namely building hybrid clouds and automated deployment platforms. Finally, Netmagic spoke about their Cloud offering. They aim to solve the compute problems of all India. Companies like Tata, Manipal Univ and India Infoline are some of the big customers the recently funded Netmagic have on their roster.
Suhas Kelkar, BMC representing NASSCOM gave a nice lightning talk about the UID project. One of the aims of the UID project is to provide “Identity as a Service”. Anyone around the world should be able to identify an Indian based on biometrics in less-than-2-seconds using a massive data de-duplication engine.
Larry gave 20:20 talk i.e. 20 slides in 20 secs per slide about general Cloud Computing concepts. Any Cloud solutions provided should be “OSSM” (pronounced awesome) – On demand, Self-Serviced and Measured. He explained basic Cloud Computing terms like PaaS, IaaS and SaaS
Cloud Computing Unpanel
Larry mentioned that he had heard complaints in the past that Indian Cloudcamps are less interactive and audience participation is really low. He tackled this problem very well with an un-panel discussion. Here is how it happened. He asked folks who were cloud experts to raise their hands. Around 15 or so raised their hands. He got all of them to come down to the main stage. After that, he started asking audience to “ask questions to these cloud experts.” He took down around
15-20 questions on white sheets of papers from the audience.
The “cloud experts” then answered all these questions. Some of the questions asked were about security concerns in the cloud, vendor lock-in, developer’s role, how to choose the right solution and so on. This was a fun session nicely organized by Larry ensuring audience participation.
Some of the questions asked and their answers:
- Security in the cloud: Security in the cloud is no different than securing your data centre. Ensure your network and host level firewalls are locked down and all communication is secure.
- Vendor lock-in: Everyone talks about the marriage but no one talks about the divorce i.e. moving away from a vendor. Design your applications properly so that migration from one vendor to another vendor is easy. One of the “cloud experts” mentioned how by designing a proper hibernate layer, they were able to move their Java application from Google App Engine to Amazon’s EC2 in a day. Design is the key.
- Application development for/in the cloud: Experts spoke about how quickly they could develop massively scalable applications using force.com’s platform-as-a-service.
- Making the right choices: Experts spoke about evaluating different offerings in terms of features and cost. Do a small POC before doing committing to a any vendor.
- Storage/Databases in the cloud: There are all sorts of databases (relational and non-relational i.e NoSQL ) available in the cloud which provide redundancy and consistency. e.g. Amazon’s S3, RDS, SQL Azure, MongoDB and so on.
- Will Network/System administrators lose their jobs? This was the question of the day raised by a lot. The answer is that your datacenter will become virtual but it will still exist and need regular maintenance. Platform-as-a-service solutions don’t provide a silver bullet that you can junk all your hardware capacity for that. You will need IaaS like Amazon EC2, Netmagic and that needs maintenance regularly.
Post lunch, there were quite a few breakout sessions based on the audience questions asked before lunch. Larry himself conducted a session on Security in the Cloud. Janakiram MSV from Amazon, conducted a session on Migrating Applications to the Cloud. I attended Janakiram’s session. He spoke about his experiences in evaluating and then migration applications to the Cloud.
Some takeaways from Janakiram’s session:
- Capex can go down significantly, but Opex needs to be tempered by revenue.
- Steps to migrate into the cloud:
- Do a cloud vendor assessment: Choose which vendor suits your current and future needs.
- Do a simple Proof of Concept.
- Migrate the data: Choose which part of the data (images, binary blobs etc) can use NoSQL databases and which parts are relational and need a Relational Database application.
- Migrate the application: Either “forklift” the entire application and run it as-in the cloud or use a hybrid approach.
- In the hybrid approach, some of your application’s context remains local while some is in the cloud and they communicate via shared queues or similar such ways.
Use Cloud vendor’s value added services besides compute and storage: eg. Leverage EC2’s queuing solution i.e Simple Queue Service instead of implementing your own.
- Tweak as per the need: After running the application for a while in the cloud, keep tweaking your application for optimal use for resources.
I attended Netmagic’s demo. Netmagic gave a demo of their current cloud offering which is currently in beta. Similar to other popular cloud vendors, Netmagic lets you create Windows/Linux servers on the fly, connect them to remote storage, provides network level firewalls and provides proprietary software load-balancers. The UI was clean and easy to understand. Their SLA guarantees an uptime of 99.993%. Currrently, their solution looks very robust especially in the Indian market and there will offer a complete offering soon with APIs and connectors.
We (Kalpak Shah and myself) personally held a breakout session for developers and their role in the cloud. The main questions asked by developers were around “What and how do I develop in the cloud?”
Application development fundamentally remains the same for the developer. You write code in Java, Python, .NET or any of your favorite languages. What changes is the environment in which is deployed and its use cases. e.g. If you want to host your Java Web application, instead of buying space from a hosting solution provider, deploy it directly into Google AppEngine (GAE). GAE will host it for you and scale up/down as per load. e.g. If you want to use scalable storage, your application will need to use a NoSQL storage solution like Amazon’s S3. The developer’s role here is to understand how to use S3’s APIs. Hence the developer would need to design and develop his application leveraging these “cloud” technologies.
Furthermore, the developer also would need to think “cloud” and design with multi-tenancy (a software application is designed to logically partition its data and configuration, and each client sees a custom version of that application) in mind for his Software-as-a-service offering. eg. Gmail or Facebook.
Larry closed the session by thanking the sponsors and participants. There was feedback about what all can be improved in the future. Key suggestions were: having talks about cloud basics in the beginning, having good net connectivity (for demos), and a post conference beer party (to ensure folks stick till the end).
All in all, CloudCamp is definitely a great un-conference if you want to learn about cloud, if you are an expert and what to share your experiences and knowledge, and if you have products to showcase.
The next CloudCamp in India is in Delhi (12th Feb) and Chennai (19th Feb).
About the Author – Chirag Jog
Chirag Jog is the CTO at Clogeny Technologies where they work on innovative ideas across the cloud computing stack. He, along with the CEO drives the overall strategy of the company. He is passionate about everything “cloud” and around it. He is an ex-PICTian.