CloudCamp Chicago Asks “Do You Speak Cloud?”

I found the title question (Do you speak cloud?) interesting because it can be interpreted different ways. The best way to answer this question is to start with the definition of the parameters of cloud. Here are two starter questions:

  1. Private / on premise cloud or a public, massively scaled third party cloud?
  2. The infrastructure underneath the cloud or the distributed application and stacks that live on top?

Fortunately, my questions were answered (and much more) during my first trip to a CloudCamp “Unconference” held in downtown Chicago (slides are here).

For an idea of what an Unconference is, try out this Wikipedia article.

Key Takeaways

self-driving-carThere were many points made during several excellent presentations from volunteers that I felt had immediate relevance to the two questions asked above.

One was dolled out by VMware’s own Kurt Milne,VMware Director of Cloud Ops Programs, about the idea of letting go of control in the traditional sense. One graphic in particular – a photo of some gentlemen at Google in a self driving car – resonated well. Isn’t that what we’re really trying to do as builders of the cloud? Develop something that can easily be consumed by the tenant and requires no working knowledge of the “car” or underlying infrastructure.

This can be a difficult, both from an architecture and process perspective. From my vantage point, a lot of the current road blocks are erected from a people, process, and corporate culture standpoint. Change is always difficult, even good change, heck – even change you desire to happen personally. It takes a fair bit of education and persistence to make happen. And, in many cases, it has to come from the top down to be effective. However, I see that happening, if not a bit slower than many would hope.

Skills to Pay the Bills

Another point comes from Bill Kleyman, Virtualization and Cloud Solutions Architect of MTM Technologies. He covers the idea of moving silo’ed skill sets into a more relevant role of a cloud architect. I won’t steal his thunder from the presentation, but the idea is that there are a few highly important, if not critical, skills that are going to be necessary as the industry continues to shuffle along towards cloud (and perhaps even Software Defined Data Centers – SDDCs).

people-skillsOne point that Bill made that I absolutely agree with is the importance of solid communication skills. Being a tech geek is great, but without the ability to translate those geek ideas to various levels of the business the ideas will wither on the vine. As a VCDX (VMware Certified Design Expert) certification holder, I would have to agree. VMware has put a great emphasis on being able to successfully communicate a design to a group of peers and customers by way of a rigorous panel defense process. It takes much more than a good design to become validated in this program, and I firmly believe that decision delivers excellent results.

I have people skills; I am good at dealing with people. Can’t you understand that?

The Unpanel

Another interesting aspect to CloudCamp is the “Unpanel” in which I was lucky enough (if that’s the right way to put it) to be invited up to give my thoughts on various topics presented by the audience. Again – great questions were asked, and all of the panelists were sharp in their particular fields and were able to offer some deep insights into cloud security, necessary job skills, and cloud stack questions.

cloud-camp-smallWhat I found rather interesting was the level of engagement from the audience. Usually it takes a bit of cajoling to get folks to ask questions, but with Bill Kleyman and Patrick Kerpan, CEO / CTO of CohesiveFT, handling the moderation, the place was jumping. I would imagine that 80-100 attendees were in the room and we plowed through a good number of questions that ended up spawning mini discussions among the room. Very awesome.

Thoughts – Do You Speak Cloud?

I’m a new found fan of the CloudCamp model and will definitely  return when another one rolls into town. A big thanks to the organizers on doing such a bang up job on providing munchies and brews, great speakers, and a “sales pitch free” zone. Make sure to look up the CloudCamp schedule to see if one is near you.

Have you attended a CloudCamp in your area? I’d be interested to hear your takeaways on the process and content.