What does last week’s Cloud Expo Europe tell us about the maturity of the market for cloud services in the UK? As an Amazon Web Services Premier Consulting Partner, Smart421 had a stand in the Amazon Web Services Village which gave us a great opportunity to have numerous customer conversations. Wayne Stallwood, one of the AWS Architects from our internal AWS Practice, supported our sales and marketing staff on the stand, and we compared notes afterwards to draw out the key themes.
First of all, one immediate observation was that people were more openly talking about hosting production/live systems in the cloud, i.e. not just the usual dev, DR and startups. We’ve been at this cloud game for about 4 years now and so it is far from new for us (although as a side note, it was interesting to hear Mark Russinovich from Microsoft Azure saying “the cloud is new” this week) and we started to see this shift at least a year ago if not longer. Some of the presentations at Cloud Expo Europe reflected that, for example with a talk about DDoS hardening etc – very much about live systems. There were lots of questions about performance stability, resources, scalability, reliability etc – again more enterprise-level considerations.
Balancing this though, it was somewhat alarming that some of the people coming to the stand still wanted to talk about the buzzwords without really knowing what they are…so we had a few openers where it was “so this “big data” thing…what does that do for me?” and if you looked at the name badges it was established enterprise people asking the questions. This tells us that there’s still a huge lump of “educational debt” to overcome in the enterprise space.
I had time to attend a couple of presentations but they were pretty awful – dull vendor pitches. You need to choose carefully at these events as the attendees typically don’t pay to attend, and so the bulk of the funding for the event has to be sourced from vendors, and hence they all get to present. There is always some great content though, you just need to be selective and accept you’ll get a few duds.
Instead, I devoted the bulk of my time to understanding Red Hat‘s direction of travel, especially in relation to OpenStack (as I’m fascinated by the cooperation and competition in this area, e.g. from Mirantis , and I’m interested to see how the delivery of private clouds plays out as enterprises use it as a not always sensible stepping stone to the inevitable destination of public cloud) – although inexplicably they were squirreled away on an upper floor and poorly represented in the online show mobile app and so pretty hard for people to find. I also took some time to catch up with AWS colleagues old and new – including AWS Technical Evangelist Ian Massingham.
The Cloud Expo Europe event itself was co-located with Data Centre World (just over half the floor space) and Big Data Expo Europe (really just a thinly populated stream within the Cloud Expo event), and it was a bit odd to be wandering around the show floor and then stumble into the “dark side” with vendors trying to pitch cooling, racking and UPS power systems to me. I don’t want to build a data centre, ok, AWS has already taken care of that for me :).
The pure cloud content felt smaller to me that previous years, and so as a final thought – I wonder if this reflects not so much that the cloud market is going off the boil but more the opposite – that it’s now mainstream enough that it’s harder to raise so much interest for events that are riding the latest hype?