SAN FRANCISCO -- June 23, 2010 was a particularly busy IT news day in Silicon Valley.
Not only were two major IT conferences (GigaOm Structure 2010 and O'Reilly Velocity) being held concurrently, but the motorcade of visiting Russian President Dmitri Medvedev clogged the Bayshore 101 freeway that connects San Francisco and San Jose for part of the morning commute, irritating a number of drivers.
Medvedev visited the headquarters of Twitter, Cisco Systems and Apple and was to speak at Stanford University later in the day. But he missed Om Malik's Structure 2010, where some of the brightest thought leaders in IT gathered at UC San Francisco's new Mission Bay Conference Center to discuss the rise of cloud computing and where the sector is headed.
Amazon CTO Werner Vogels, introduced by event emcee Joe Weinman of AT&T as "Mister Cloud," was the most influential luminary on the Day 1 agenda.
Other speakers on June 23 and June 24 include CEO Paul Maritz of VMware, Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff, IBM executive cloud chief Erich Clementi, Eucalyptus Systems CEO and former MySQL CEO Marten Mickos, Facebook Director of Engineering Jay Parikh, and NetApp Cloud CzarVal Bercovici, among a list of others.
Vogels, who has led Amazon to worldwide leadership in the sales of cloud storage and infrastructure services since it went public with them in 2006, said that the biggest change in cloud computing over the past 12 months is that "we have gone from talk to action."
"First of all, the cloud is everywhere. It is no longer a proof-of-concept, test-test-test thing," Vogels said. "It's real, it's working and it is saving companies a lot of money. It is also creating new companies and jobs, we don't see it slowing down growth anytime soon."
Vogels also fended off early criticism of his company's model with a few carefully chosen words.
"We're criticized sometimes as simply trying to sell off excess computing cycles as sort of an incidental part of our retail business," Vogels told a capacity audience.
"Well, we've invested millions of dollars into building this part of our business, and we believe that it will become as big, or bigger, than our main retail businesses.
"Saying that our cloud business is taking a backseat couldn't be further from the truth."
Vogels said the myths that have grown up to become FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt) regarding cloud computing have mostly been repudiated over the last two years.
"Saying that the cloud is not reliable, that it's not secure, that it's all about cost only, that it locks users in -- that's all been proven incorrect," Vogels said. "Myths always come up around new and disruptive products when they enter a market.
"Remember [Gene] Amdahl back in the 1980s? He worked with a large company that made mainframes, thought he could build a better, less-expensive one, couldn't get anybody to back him at the company, so he started his own company. He in fact went on to build better mainframes that cost less and did more, dispelling all the FUD at the time that came from his original company."
The cloud is going through the same thing, Vogels said.
In May, Amazon rolled out its new Virtual Private Cloud service in Europe. The VPC, Vogels said, is a secure, seamless bridge between a company's existing IT infrastructure and the AWS cloud.
VPC enables enterprises to connect their existing infrastructure to a set of isolated AWS compute resources via a virtual private network (VPN) connection and to extend existing management capabilities, such as security services, firewalls, and intrusion detection systems to include their AWS resources.
VPC integrates now with Amazon EC2 (Elastic Cloud 2) and will integrate with other AWS services in the future. As with all Amazon Web Services, VPC users pay only for the resources they use.
"We just want to make sure that users use every last one of all the [computing] cycles they have at their disposal, and we will help them so that -- even if we have to sell our cycles for 2 cents," Vogels said.
"If you are not using all of your servers all the time to get the most out of your IT system, then you are wasting resources. When you spin down or turn off your servers, that's even worse, because those machines are on your books. You're wasting infrastructure and its costs."
Structure 2010 continues through June 24.