Silicon Valley Watcher - Former FT journalist Tom Foremski reporting from the intersection of technology and media

Notes From Interop: Attendees, Wrestling Rings and Cloud Computing

Posted by Tom Foremski - May 20, 2009

[Guest post from Las Vegas and the Interop show by Jo Large and Laura Gonzalez]

One look around at the lunch tables at the conference did reinforce that the mood was very subdued at Interop, even compared with the recent RSA conference in San Francisco. In a conversation with one attendee, he remarked that the mood of Interop was "gloomy" compared with the previous 14 Interop conferences he had attended.

Wireless Stats and Wrestling Rings

One thing the attendees had in common was access to the free wireless network at Interop, provided by a large number of vendors working in partnership on the Interop NOC. We briefly stopped by the Xirrus wrestling ring, which attracted a huge crowd -- as one attendee in the government space remarked to me "this is perhaps due more to the fact you can see her pants when she raises the placards, rather than an interest in the wireless network."

In a brief demo of the Xirrus dashboard, we learned that 2001 unique visitors had accessed the wireless network within the previous 24 hours, and 225 users were on the network at 2:39 PM. The largest spike in unique visitors in the previous 24 hours occurred at 11:45 AM when over 500 users were online concurrently. Checking emails before lunch anyone?

Cloud Computing Perspectives, small vs. large

As the unofficial theme of the conference seemed to be "cloud computing," I asked some attendees to share their thoughts on the subject. It seemed only fair to profile the views of disparate ends of the scale -- a very large vendor and a very small vendor.

When I discussed the hype surrounding cloud computing with a small vendor in the data management space, he said that "the elephant in the room is data, many enterprises don’t have control of their data now, so how can they expect to control their data when they add another layer of complexity with the cloud?"

He also highlighted that information security guys are "having nightmares" about cloud computing, because there is currently no duty to report when there are vulnerabilities, and a customer may never find out about their vendor's security issues.

Later in the day I spoke with an IBM Distinguished Engineer, and had a lively discussion on the merits of cloud computing. He remarked that there were a lot of similarities between what’s now being labeled “cloud computing” and what IBM labeled as "utility computing." As IBM was the market leader in utility computing many moons ago, there are no great surprises there -- but he did agree that vendors need to have a much clearer articulation on how they are differentiating themselves in the cloud computing space.


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