Thursday, August 01, 2013

VTUG Silicon Valley Slam 2013

I found out about the Virtualization Technology Users Group (VTUG) and its Silicon Valley Slam 2013 from those random digital alerts that keep me plugged in to the pulse of tech business in the Bay Area.  This is how I fill the white space on my calendar.  These frequent drives down to the San Jose region will eventually wear out my car but I can learn stuff even on the way.  One of the radio station's DJs was yapping about how you have to change settings on Google Dashboard to make it stop tracking your data.  Meh, who cares.  I think it's great that Google tracks my searches so it knows not to waste my time with ads for stuff like feminine hygiene products.  If Google were smart it would show me ads with scantily clad (or unclad) attractive women in them because that's what I like to see.  I've also driven past billboard ads for Betts Recruiting (was it on US-101?  Or was it I-580-East?  I can't remember anymore!) which is serendipitous enough in my search for high-tech business wisdom.

The VTUG event itself was too technical for a finance guy.  I went to see how these businesses were meeting market demand for virtualized services in cloud servers.  Alfidi Capital itself is a virtual investment firm powered by other hosts' servers and blog platform, so as a low-impact user of cloud-based SaaS and IaaS I'm curious about how the back end looks as a business function.  The sponsors' table-side pitches were all over my head.  I couldn't tell you the difference between a stack and a virtual machine (VM).  All I know is that there's still room for disruption as the demand for cloud service grows.  There's also room for more women to pursue careers in computer services.  I counted only four women manning the sponsor booths and one at VTUG's registration table.  They were all certainly attractive looking, so if more attractive women could work in computing it would give me more to look at besides stacks of open brochures about open stacks.  Oh yeah, before I forget, the women were all very knowledgeable too.  I could not let naughty thoughts about a nice pair of gams distract me from learning about computer stuff.

The keynoters from two very large, well-known software companies showcased their firms' cloud wares.  One dude was really involved in tech incubators like Techstars, H-FARM, The Founder Institute, and MindTheBridge.  I think that last one is a play on the "mind the gap" saying.  I was starting to mind the gap between my attention span and the coffee I drank.

I learned that NASDAQ runs its OMX FinQloud on AWS.  I hope all of those low-priced stocks I've evaluated are satisfied knowing that their market data is in a public cloud.  I also learned that launching a VM in a cloud requires firewalls for inbound and outbound traffic.  That sounds just like a real machine that requires safety baffles so you don't catch your fingers in the gears.  Third party certification for security is the gold standard in computing, so look to ISO and HIPPA for guidance when you're building your permission sets.

It seems that VMs can move back and forth between public and private clouds.  I wonder if their security rules would have to change before moving.  I also wondered whether our keynoters had read Cloudonomics, which offers a pretty powerful argument for cloud adoption.  I get that the sales pitch for cloud to a globalized organization is the reduction in latency from multiple servers spread among different time zones.  I also get that treating a cloud lease as an expense to income instead of as capex allows for accounting advantages if companies want to reduce their taxable income.  I don't quite get the use of a public cloud as a testbed for new apps.  That can and should be done internally within the smaller footprint of a private cloud because IP and trade secrets deserve protection.

I learned a few computing terms like load balancing, multitenancy, cluster/host patching, synchronous and asynchronous replication (hint: synchronous is probably more expensive) and I re-learned the meaning of stock keeping unit (SKU).  Tracking SKUs of installed components in server farms is important because server farm break-ins are becoming a problem.  Servers are theft targets because they have a black market value.  If you're ever in need of an authoritative source for definitions, check out the definition of cloud computing in NIST's Special Publication 800-145.  I was particularly impressed to see that VMs can automate server management tasks.  VMs can now be built with drag and drop interfaces that automate workflows and diagnostic routines.  IMHO this enables business continuity.  It sure would have helped me when I managed and migrated client SharePoint sites as a knowledge management officer, because I could have used VMs to automate the download and application of server patches.  See folks, I've done a tiny bit of this work myself, just enough to know that I never want to do it again.  I don't envy the IT pros who will have to implement IPv6 standards to alleviate the coming shortage of IP addresses.  If we want a future full of BYOD, smart energy grids, and gadgets hooked up to the Internet of things, we will need a lot more IP space.

I hit the lunch buffet right after the keynoters were done.  I didn't need to stick around for the afternoon breakout sessions because I wouldn't have understood all of the programming stuff they needed to do.  I'm a blogger, not a coder.  I got my fill of chicken and salmon and then skedaddled out of there.  Those of you who do this virtualization stuff for a living are welcome to get all of the MCSE credentials and VMware certifications you need to do it well.  Microsoft Virtual Academy has lots of material to keep techies busy.  I'm just satisfied to score some basic sector insights and flirt with hot nerdy chicks who show up at events.