Yesterday at OSCON I spent most of my day participating in the Cloud Summit. Having exited the mainstream IT industry after my retirement, I had seen cloud computing mentioned, but I didn't know more than the superficial. So I was really hoping to get a better understanding of the key issues swirling around this emerging sector and hear from some of the leaders in the industry.
I'm really glad that I choose to attend the summit. As billed, I think the summit accomplished its' goal and I walked away with a much better understanding of some of the key issues in cloud computing. One of the first lessons from the summit was the recognition of the general immaturity of this sector. In general we're talking about a sector that didn't even come onto most people's radar until late 2007 or 2008. This ultimately means that there's is much to iron out until a clearer forecast of how this new sector will impact the IT industry.
However, another lesson was made clear by Mark Masterson from Computer Sciences Corporation. He was charged with trying to answer a tricky question; "Is the Enterprise Ready for the Cloud?" He summed up much of the summit's biggest lesson. Whether you think your organization is ready, or not, cloud computing is a reality. They are many companies and organizations lining up to provide these new services, including RackSpace, which recently announced their entry into the sector with OpenStack.
The bottom line is while the debates still brew over standards, lock-in, and open source versus proprietary stacks, one thing is clear. Much like when IT organizations first became aware of open source, cloud computing is something that they should start to experiment with. It's time to set aside some resources and begin the education process, because from what I heard yesterday, the forecast calls for cloud computing to ultimately become part of many IT operations.
By the way, I've posted a set of photographs on Flickr that I took during the summit.