Exploring the in-between

By January 28, 2010Uncategorized

Yesterday provided an interesting cross-section of the spectrum of technology. On one side, you had Apple’s launch of the iPad. On the other side, you had Oracle’s press conference detailing the setting of Sun. It occurred to me this morning, as I poured over endlessly similar pieces about both events, that the two ends really highlight a huge ecosystem around “the cloud.”

On the Apple side, we’re clearly moving into the era of internet devices (smart phones, netbooks, iPads). Where the primary defining characteristic are apps that are accessing information stored in the cloud. It almost seems trivial at this point, but in the larger sweep of history, I don’t think it’s trivial at all. For all of my “forward looking” conference stuff, I still (out of force of habit) open up a desktop based spreadsheet and save it locally, versus using Google docs. The shift to the cloud has already occurred for every consumer under the age of 30. The rest of us are the “tweeners” that are just running to catch up.

On the Oracle side, you have a company that perfectly encapsulates a saying my friend and business partner Phil Becker has (I’m paraphrasing) – “all of the real money in enterprise software gets made selling databases.” Oracle announced yesterday that they have “no intention” of operating public clouds for enterprises. They are, however, deeply interested in selling the databases and middleware that will be needed to run those clouds. Of course.

So we have the consumer-facing move to cloud devices on the one hand, and the enterprise software company that will sell “picks and shovels” to cloud companies all day long.

As is usually the case, the “in-between” is where things get interesting.

At the end of the day, EVERYTHING in software is about applications. You can have the greatest infrastructure in the world, but without 7 gajillion people using the email application, it’s all for nothing. And so it will be with “the cloud.” The interesting debate, the interesting hack, the place will developers will migrate to isn’t the “public/private/hybrid cloud” question, nor is it the “economic benefits of the cloud and CAPEX” question.

Value in this chain migrates to the in-between between the apps themselves. Security, identity, scalability, high availability, interoperability, open data (data portability), non-relational database models, APIs, RESTful protocols and standards — THESE are the places that value (interest) migrates to; between the apps running on the iPad and the behemoth software company selling databases is an ecosystem. And everything in that ecosystem is connected — or will be; or should be. That “connection” is the tough piece. The piece that will take us years to get right. The piece that Gluecon is really focused on.

It’s early in this game. And we’re early into planning for Glue. But just because we’re early doesn’t mean there’s not already meat on these bones.

Early confirmed speakers include:

Michael Barrett, CISO, PayPal — talking security in the cloud

Chris Hoff, Director of Cloud Solutions, Cisco — on “Cloudifornication”

Doug Crockford, creator JSON — on Gluing apps together in the cloud

Ryan Sarver, Director of Platform, Twitter — on the state/nature of things.

A bunch of NoSQL folks talking Riak, Cassandra, MongoDB, CouchDB, Neo4j

Identity folks talking SAML, OpenID, User Managed Access, Federated Provisioning and OAuth/WRAP

Sessions on integration, open data, Facebook’s openness, building APIs, activity protocols, HTML5 websockets, mobility in the cloud, and on and on.

And while I’m at it, I should round-up our early sponsors: Boomi, Gnip, Rackspace, Ping Identity, Alcatel-Lucent, enStratus, 10gen, Gist, Cloudbook, the Cloud Security Alliance, Programmable Web, and the Kantara Initiative.

And I’m just getting started.

I hope you’ll join us as we explore the in-between at Gluecon.