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Interop Forecast: Cloudy With a Chance of Rain

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By Ron Culler

Interop, the event that beckons IT folk from around the world to the desert sands and smoke-filled casinos of Las Vegas, is upon us once again this week. As I was preparing for my annual pilgrimage, I wondered whether to bring a pair of waders and raincoat because I have no doubt I will be soaked by a deluge of cloud marketing.

After reviewing the Interop conference guide and exhibitor list, I got a picture in my head of a whirlwind of cloud activity waiting for me and my fellow conventioneers. Cloud-computing hype is in overdrive, and every vendor wants to associate their products, technologies and services with “The Cloud." And for vendors on the prowl for partners, they hit every VAR, MSP and integrator roaming the exhibit floor with a tsunami of cloud marketing spin.

At Interop, it's going to be raining cloud computing.If you’re like me, you go to Interop or conferences like it to find out about the latest technology, roadmaps for product development and market trends. Yes, cloud computing is a part of that, but it’s not the only thing technologists need to hear about – and, we certainly don’t need the hype and exaggerations.

What am I expecting at Interop? Nothing short of the perfect storm, and that’s why I think I’ll bring my wellies and rain slicker.

Instead of weather maps, vendors will stand before their dashboard displays and animated PowerPoint presentations. They’ll illustrate how “their cloud" is superior because of some “super cloud panel" or “unique application layer" that just makes cloud computing happen auto-magically.

The rainmakers will claim you can have your very own cloud or clouds. Oh, they’ll have their “Cloud in a Box," “Cloud in a Rack," “Cloud in a Really Big Box." They’ll be barking like those late-night “get rich on real estate" infomercial pitchmen.

And, of course, no tech conference would be complete without the analyst talking about market opportunities, hyper-increased spending and hockey-stick growth curves. Their rapid-fire presentation and astronomical numbers will spin like a cyclone through the exhibit halls.

Yes, I’ll acknowledge that cloud is a real trend and an important transition in the IT market. But it’s not revolutionary, and not everyone is a cloud vendor. What the IT community – be it end-user or solution provider – wants is real perspective on cloud computing. There’s too much hype as every vendor wants to stake a claim to a piece of the cloud storm system.

What we really need is intelligence on what clouds can do, what resources are available and how to best leverage the technology, and a healthy dose of reality about legacy technology. Let’s be honest: We’ve been building “cloud-like" systems for years. Data centers, networks, security systems, storage arrays and shared applications have been part of the IT world for decades. What’s changed with the cloud is it’s hosted or delivered by a service provider. If that’s simply the case, let’s talk about the technologies and products available for optimizing legacy systems for the cloud era. Even better, let’s talk about what replaces on-premise IT systems, because not everything will go to the cloud (ever).

There will be a lot of hype at Interop – I just wish vendors would align to realities and not marketing spin. Until they do, I’ll keep packing my galoshes.

Ron Culler is chief technical officer at Secure Designs, a North Carolina-based managed security services provider. He is also a member of the Channel Vanguard Council, and serves on its board of directors.

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