Two weeks ago, the "CLOUD COMPUTING UND VIRTUALISIERUNG" technology conference 2015 kicked off at the Vogel-IT Akademie in Germany. It was the first in a series of four seminars taking place around Germany over the coming weeks. More than 40 providers and vendors, and over 200 IT managers participated in the first conference in Neuss / Düsseldorf.
This was one of the best cloud conferences I’ve ever attended. The keynotes were excellent and the vendors covered the whole cloud spectrum from network infrastructure, to Platform as a Service (PaaS), public cloud and cloud marketplaces.
The only topic which was under-represented was the Software as a Service (SaaS) layer in the cloud stack. While the keynotes underlined the importance of cloud in the innovation context, I didn’t see many examples of this. I believe that SaaS is not about technology, it is about the possibility of innovating on a completely different magnitude, and therefore is key for competition.
Several distributors were present for the first time (ALSO, Azlan, Avnet). From the big players in the public cloud battlefield, Microsoft Azure and IBM Softlayer were there.
Cloud Security Remains a Hot Topic of Discussion
As is typical of cloud conferences in Germany, there was plenty of discussion about data protection and security. Worries about security continue to be major inhibitors to cloud adoption in Germany, particularly for Small-Medium Businesses (SMB). During Microsoft's "early bird" presentation, half of the session focused on its compliance with various German and European standards. I got the impression that the fact that Microsoft Azure still has no data center in Germany makes it hard for it to compete there.
Other global players, such as AWS and Softlayer, have made significant investments in the past two years, and both now have local data center presence in Germany. In this context, I'll cite Dr. Carlo Velten from Crisp Research - one of the keynote speakers: "Do not take the security issue too much into consideration, because you can die in security." What a good reflection of some German habits in this area.
Digital Transformation is a Key Driver of Cloud Adoption
Besides data security, Mr. Velten emphasised the importance of digital business and the digital transformation of enterprises in context of embedding public cloud platforms, OpenStack and DevOps to move the balance from static IT towards dynamic IT. The second keynote, Manfred Kessler, CEO of Global Access Internet Services - a well-known German service provider located in Munich - mainly covered three topics:
The opportunity facing new players in the IT market, who are in a good position to beat the well-known big players in competitive bids, with their functionality, dynamic, ease of implementation and ease of use (even at a higher price).
The impact and dynamic of cloud services on new sub-industry and fast changes in the industry. Mr. Velten's main example was the fact that the relatively new "industry" of car sharing in California is already declining due to the Uber effect. Advantages of Uber overcome some of the car-sharing main disadvantages such as searching for parking, fuelling up, and limited area. The new service allows an exact cost prediction, even sharing a car with another user, and mostly immediately available when a car is needed.
Integration of the whole process: Mr Velten analysed the evolution of marketplaces (e.g. e-shop 10 years ago vs. Amazon and eBay's functionality today) and analysed today cloud marketplaces on the examples on AppStore and Deutsche Telekom in the process integration and end-customer relationship, e.g. Apple App-Store (many apps, payment process included but customer owned by app provider) vs Deutsche Telekom Marketplace (few applications, customer-owned by Deutsche Telekom).
The distributor ALSO demonstrated their integration of a cloud marketplace and how resellers can use their platform to build marketplaces for their customers. Unfortunately I got the impression that only a few services and apps are integrated, mostly from Microsoft.
Innovating with the Cloud
I found the panel discussion with Dr. Carlo Velten and Manfred Kessler particularly interesting. It encouraged audience participation, moderating a group discussion about successful (and less successful) cloud projects, and their impact on innovation. A key take-away from that discussion is that most in-house IT infrastructure can’t compete with the large public cloud providers in terms of services and innovation.
The conference ended with a vision from Matthias Wessner from Microsoft about how a workplace will look in 2020.
Overall, I think the event series is very valuable, bringing IT decision makers and solution providers together to discuss and debate the whole cloud stack.