Camp, with beer!Cloudcamp is still a great event, but it does feel like it’s running out of steam a little – the cloud hype has waned a little just as part of the natural evolution of things, and the attendance seemed marginally lower to me last night. They’ve also tackled all the big crowd-pulling themes. But I’ll still be going, just because the presentations were still really good, introducing you to topics and ideas you just wouldn’t stumble across any other way. And then there’s the sarcasm, red cards (mainly a deterrent it seems as I’ve never seen one deployed yet), beer and pizza.

In this post I’ll just point out some interesting (to me at least!) little snippets – partly so I remember them and partly to share with my Smartie colleagues.

Lock-in – Joe from VMWare made a great point about lock-in – as an architect, really you can’t avoid lock-in, even though this is the language that we tend to use. In reality what you can do is design what you want to be locked-in by and what you don’t. E.g you can implement your own private cloud using OpenStack to avoid being locked into a public cloud vendor, but then you are locked into the OpenStack community and it’s uncertain future, and the hardware you’ve bought etc. Or you can use PaaS to avoid hypervisor-layer lock-in, but they you might need to lock-in to a certain dev language etc. This resonated with me as Smart421 considered this topic on a recent client cloud consultancy engagement, and the feared lock-in was actually not as severe as maybe it was perceived. It’s all choices, no rights and wrongs, just tools in the architects toolbox.

Cloud cost examples – Ali from PlanForCloud gave some costs examples for what it might cost to run TripAdvisor or Pinterest infrastructure on AWS, e.g. $1.7m p.a. using on-demand reducing to $0.9m p.a. if reserved instances are used for TripAdvisor. What I was hoping to hear was the equivalent current on-premise (or at least non-AWS) costs, but he didn’t present those. My expectation is that these kinds of scale on-premise will still be way cheaper, but of course it’s more complex than that – capex, options to mix on-demand/spot/reserved, load distribution across AZs and regions, lower support staff costs etc. It’s a complex area.

Lack of transparency with big data – Chris Swan made an interesting point about the increasing risk of very non-transparent machine generated decisions as we move into a more big data-based world, e.g. credit card fraud detection systems that are so opaque that false positives cannot really be challenged, it’s just “what the system said”. My message to customers is that big data technologies offer an opportunity to gain new insights into their existing data assets at previously unheard of processing costs – but ironically this trend could also lead to less insight, at least from an end user perspective.

There were also some great lightning talks from Kuan Hon re cloud contract negotiations (seen her speak several times – a cloud legal eagle), Phil about why we should be scared of European cloud standardisation initiatives, and James Mitchell on the likely trend towards cloud computing capacity futures/options/derivatives trading etc. In fact – no dud talks this time at all, and you’d expect at least one :)