Cloud Field Day 2: Event Summary
If you follow me on Twitter, you undoubtedly saw that last week was Cloud Field Day 2. In fact, I probably got muted from half my followers from the live tweeting I was doing throughout the event 🙂 As I wrote in a previous post, this was my first Field Day experience as a delegate and I honestly didn’t know what to expect. I’ve watched many in the past but as my focus has changed from traditional infrastructure to cloud services, I was excited that my first was focusing on cloud technologies. Below is a quick overview of the week and some thoughts on the event as a whole.
All three days of the event, starting on July 26 and running through the 28th, was comprised of a full day of presentations from three vendors, followed by Q/A and travel between venues. As Stephen Foskett likes to say, “we go to the vendors (rather than them all coming to us) so we can see them in their natural habitat.” The result of such is 3-5 rides in a stretch limo, up and down the 101, traveling between San Francisco, Santa Clara, Palo Alto, and more. Beyond the technology, this also becomes a great opportunity to connect with the other delegates, who travel from different parts of the world (we had folks from New Zealand, Australia, London, Netherlands, Italy, Canada, and others from across the US).
Moving to the presentation piece of the event, each delegate was mic’d up and encouraged to ask questions, either to learn more about the products being presented or to even question the vendor’s direction. Personally, I didn’t speak much the first day as some of the technologies were new to me and I was deep in thought around where I could see this used in the slice of the market that I’ve experienced. In addition, most of the “more open” delegates were asking the questions I had as well.
Quick summarization of the three days.
We had three presentations, including Nirmata, Accelerite, and Scality. All three of these companies are what I’d categorize as true startups, some of which are angel-funded, some of which have completed Series D funding. Even though they are all startups, I feel that’s about all they had in common. Each one of these companies was targeting a different market, each of which had their own strong opinions about what the future will be for those markets. Although these were the first presentations for the overall event, we also discovered that companies still don’t understand how to communicate what they do and tell the audience why we need their product.
The second day was probably one of my favorites, mostly due to the fact that I had strong familiarity with 2/3 companies that we heard from. We started the day at ServiceNow‘s beautiful EBC in Santa Clara and heard from several folks. Although I was pumped to see what they presented to us, I was mostly left disappointed at the end. I know what ServiceNow’s incredible platform is capable of, however, they opted to spend about half the time showing us how to create and customize a form. As this was “Cloud” Field Day, in my opinion, they should have had a form ready to rock and demonstrated how that could be used to automate workloads on the backend, how it integrates with public cloud provides, or how it helps streamline internal processes.
Platform9 presented next and while I don’t have any experience with Kubernetes, OpenStack, and very limited experience on containers, I found that they had a strong opinion that folks were going to standardize on OpenStack API, quite often something I hear folks moving away from. Overall, the presenters did ok and I understood the premise of what they were trying to convey.
The last presenter was Rubrik, another company I’m intimately familiar with. I recently wrote a blog post about one of their cloud technologies here, something I’ve been able to play around with in AWS. Rubrik presenter using 4 different folks from their technical marketing team and it was easily the most energetic and entertaining presentations from the entire event. Rubrik discussed their background and moved to what’s coming in regard to their market-disrupting platform. In short, these folks get it, from how to present to what customers are looking for.
The third and final day of CFD2 was quite interesting and one of the delegates even termed it Heritage Field Day. This was due to the fact that all the presentations were delivered by traditional hardware vendors who had historically built their success in the physical data center.
We started at Gigamon, a vendor whose business was built on network monitoring via physical appliances on the wire. They presented on how they are taking their existing technology and applying that to the public cloud. Packet capture in the public cloud is quite a bit different since the platform owner typically doesn’t allow instance to run in promiscuous mode and capture traffic beyond what is flowing in/out of that particular instance. Overall a good presentation but I felt a bit like it was a simple refactor of their traditional solution to support cloud and not a cloud-native solution.
The second presentation was at NetApp, a company that built its business on spinning disks (now with flash) in the core data center. While they have had OnTap Select available in AWS for quite some time, it’s not a cloud-native solution. In other words, you still have to provision and manage data within volumes like a on-premises solution, something “cloud” tends to market as old and non-flexible. In addition, NetApp does notice that physical data center is declining (probably won’t ever go away completely) but they need to pivot to continue to see revenue from this cloud thing. However, as other folks pointed out, NetApp seems to be targeting very specific uses cases rather than create something a wider market would want and take advantage of. It’ll be interesting to see how their cloud strategy changes the business as a whole.
The last CFD2 presentation was delivered by HPE/Nimble at their EBC. HPE/Nimble delivered a few shorter presentations around their new/upcoming cloud capabilities. As mentioned above, it was interesting to see the strategy of a traditional hardware vendor looking to gain traction in the cloud. One of the most interesting presentations was around their cloud storage offering, a bold (and interesting) move by a storage company. Their stance is that cloud adoption fails due to the lack of enterprise storage. Whether or not you agree with this (I don’t), you can provision HPE storage and attach to an EC2 instance via iSCSI and take advantage of cloud-region and cross-cloud replication that would otherwise be a harder task to accomplish, especially with outbound network costs in your preferred cloud platform. As Eric Shanks also pointed out, I was flabbergasted on how they could release a “cloud” product before a full-featured API was made available.
Overall, my first experience at a “Field Day” was extremely positive and I’m thankful for the opportunity to attend. Looking forward to future Field Days, regardless of if I’m a delegate or not 🙂
Til next time…