Dominic Cleal's Blog

CloudCamp London: Both feet back on the ground

Positive first

Before I get too pessimistic, I'd like to say thank you to the organisers of CloudCamp London for a generally good evening — it's great to see such a turnout for a tech event.

The highlight of the evening for me was getting to hear Simon Wardley of Canonical talk about utility computing again, if for only four minutes and fifty-nine seconds. I think I can even forgive him for gratuitous use of Comic Sans MS...

Open spaces

Not exactly a resounding success from where I was sat. We gathered into three groups, in order of size:

  • Cloud Architectures and Persistence
  • Standards and interoperability in the cloud
  • The Microsoft Azure Services Platform
I joined the group for cloud persistence, which is a particular interest of mine. Unfortunately, after a generally inaudible introduction by the moderator Matthew Fowler, the discussion quickly degenerated into the performance and cost of Amazon's Elastic Block Store (or is that Storage from the <title>?) and a sales pitch for RightScale.

Has anything actually changed?

It's been said many times already that cloud computing is just another form of outsourcing IT infrastructure/data/whatever. So your application now runs on servers sitting in somebody else's data centre, but everybody still appears to believe it has to run in exactly the same way as it might on your single box/small cluster. There seemed to be lots of interest in sticking with existing technologies such as MySQL, then bending and contorting them to "scale" in the "cloud".

Unfortunately for Matthew, the intended discussion about abstract storage of data and objects in distributed environments ended up pandering to those who were clinging to their traditional RDBMSs. Oh well, there was free pizza to look forward to.


While I could often hear the interoperability discussion better than the one I was sat in, I gather from my boss that the discussion was mostly focusing on compatibility of EC2-style APIs and server images.

I'm sure that's all well and good, but don't forget about the rest of the *aaS offerings — especially the vast differences in current PaaS providers (Google App Engine,, Project Caroline etc). These services are so new and different that there are few, if any commonalities between them — is PaaS interoperability unobtainable while it remains such a wide field?

Also, why should images full of architecture-specific binaries be used as generic and transferable components? What happens when I want to drop my application onto a CoolThreads SPARC server offered by some Infrastructure as a service provider? Is an operating system image the right layer to be working at?

Until next time

I look forward to the next CloudCamp London where I hope to see more focus on PaaS-style services — I'd be more than happy to trade experiences, rather than just hearing about Amazon and EC2. Until next time!