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Themes from GeekWire’s Cloud Tech Summit

by Lily Bowdler – June 10, 2017

GeekWire’s inaugural Cloud Tech Summit was June 7. With headliners including Scott Guthrie of Microsoft Azure and Joe Beda of Heptio, the summit drew more than 600 attendees to Meydenbauer Center in Bellevue, Washington.

The summit showcased cloud trends and ideas, including the latest developments in containers, serverless computing, machine learning, microservices and DevOps.  We encourage you to head on over to GeekWire for full coverage of the day, including transcripts.

Steve Pao and I were lucky enough to spend the day absorbing information. I spent the afternoon at the Business track.  Here are a few recurring themes from the day.


 

Innovation

New Workloads, New Players, and Plenty of Space for Both

Cloud technology is fueling its consumers’ innovation, agreed many speakers at the summit. A majority of container architecture consumption is net-new, meaning that not only do many cloud workloads represent added bandwidth, but they also account for jobs that might not otherwise be done.

Developers’ ability to make small-scale cloud purchasing decisions without involving IT does increase their willingness to experiment. Because cloud technology fundamentally changes the ways in which storage and compute are purchased, it’s only natural that it changes the way they’re applied as well.

During the summit, voices from startups, venture capitalists, and well-established corporations also emphasized how hard it is for traditional enterprises to completely “lift and shift” into public cloud, and how much room is left open for hybrid cloud strategies to make an impact.

Even as massive organizations enthusiastically build new processes on top of public cloud, moving existing data and workloads remains a challenge. Sunny Gupta of Apptio highlighted the role of “hybrid IT” and the possibility of enterprises gaining cloud benefits in increments as various pieces of the puzzle become more cloudlike.

These puzzle pieces include: comfort with buying and using products built “out of house”; gathering organizational resources necessary to evaluate the “buy vs. build” question;shifting to an OpEx model; and managing cost and consumption of cloud resources.

Cloud technology inspires innovation, but it also IS innovation. Although AWS, Azure and Google Cloud dominate the public cloud market, large enterprises are willing to work with multiple vendors in order to ensure that they use the best cloud option for any given function, several experts said.

That innovation shows no signs of stopping. Speakers at the Cloud Tech Summit predicted that big new players could enter the market, and existing players could change the game in big ways in the next few years.

One popular summit tagline was “Serverless is what containers were in 2014”. The Igneous team didn’t make it to the “Serverless Computing and Microservices” track, but we’re nevertheless excited to continue to hear about new technologies

 

Adoption

Cloud technology is important economically; cloud products entering the market move up-stack

Cloud adoption is at an inflection point, according to Brian Nowak of Morgan Stanley. With 20 percent of enterprise workloads being entrusted to public cloud, adoption is expected to accelerate through to 50 percent in 2020 before slowing.

This is a huge amount of growth, and public cloud platforms, built on the backs of other business units, are now a huge part of the valuations of their companies. Azure is projected to continue to earn larger margins (rising from 45 percent to 50 percent), even as it gets cheaper for end users, said Scott Guthrie of Microsoft. 

No one at the summit, speaker or attendee, would deny that cloud technologies will be relevant over the next five years. As innovation accelerates, it is slowly but surely “eating up the stack,” according to Sheila Gulati of Tola Capital. New players and existing cloud providers alike are focusing more on end-user applications.

Although the presence of an application layer that is fully integrated with public cloud increases accessibility, familiarity, and trust of cloud, it also creates security concerns. Public cloud itself is incredibly secure, but nearly every speaker on the Cloud Business track strongly encouraged consumers to pay attention to proper security hygiene around passwords, permissioning, and ports. Similarly, Guthrie emphasized Azure’s offering of a security scan for its customers’ applications.

Local Pride

"It’s a three-horse race, and two of the horses are in the Seattle metro area." -Sheila Gulati

Here in Cloud City, we like to talk about Cloud City. Guthrie gives geography some credit for Microsoft and Amazon’s successes, saying that they “cross-pollinate” each others with ideas and cultural norms. Gulati asserts that the current state of cloud tech in Seattle “changes the game” in terms of Seattle’s relationship with the Bay Area.

Venture capitalists agreed that the state of cloud technology in the Seattle area is absolutely a draw for investors, startups, and mid-cap companies. The City of Bellevue passed out flyers listing top tech skills in town. The (sometimes self-congratulatory) community energy was palpable, and should carry forward into many future events!

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