This week I attended CloudCamp, which came up “out of the blue” from a lively discussion forum on cloud computing. I think it could be best described as a flashmob conference – conceived and organized in less than a month by Reuven Cohen and others from the forum. It followed the “Unconference” format which was essentially a face to face instantiation of the user-led online forum. Attendees included a healthy mix of developers, young companies, serial entrepreneurs, veterans of Web 1.0 and corporate IT managers. There were a few VC’s slowly circling as well, as at Structure 08 the following day. What struck me the most about this gathering was the grassroots enthusiasm, bordering on electric but with requisite techgeek nonchalance. Maybe it was the open bar but there seemed to be a genuine excitement borne out of being on the cusp of something big. I overheard a lot of “back in the day” talk in the audience that compared the cloud computing discussion in the industry today with early web developer communities, or some of the first gatherings around virtualization.
The breakout sessions varied from the 100,000 ft discussions like “what is cloud computing” and “social impacts of the cloud” to meatier sessions on security and architectures. The conversations underscored that Cloud computing is fast evolving in what I would call consumer and public clouds: web-centric businesses utilizing services like Amazon EC2, internet search and social media sites as examples. Lots to figure out yet on how to harness the power of cloud computing for Enterprise IT. For those who manage diverse platforms and navigate complex business and regulatory environments there is much to consider. Participants wrestled with the implications to security, privacy and availability, but it was discussions on application interoperability and mobility (between clouds or between internal applications and cloud-based services) that underscored what early days we’re in.
By virtue of the 250+ people that congregated on such short notice, CloudCamp was a notable endorsement of the diverse and intense interest in cloud computing. The populist Unconference format eliminated a lot of the breathless marketing banter that often accompanies this topic and allowed for very down to earth conversations. Kudo’s to Reuven for the concept and Dave Nielsen who proctored the session. Another gathering is planned for July in London- watch the cloudcamp site for details.