5 October 2011

NetEvents EMEA Press Summit in Frascati opened on 5 October, keynote speaker James Walker of Tata Communications

NetEvents' press summit in Frascati opened on 5 October 2011 as the company's first event on the Italian mainland since 1999.

First on the cloud-focused agenda was keynote speaker James Walker of Tata Communications who spoke about the cloud behind the cloud -- or how cloud buyers need to consider the impact of the network and other services. During his keynote, Walker said that the cloud is complex and difficult to configure, as a result of which some customers are sticking with their old ATM point to point network because it works.

He was joined onstage by NetEvents editorial director Manek Dubash who asked him how cloud buyers could trust service providers who are reselling services from multiple partners, and how well providers can be trusted, given the uncertainty that exists over the size of the market.

This session was followed by Gartner VP Ian Keene, who introduced a plenary session on cloud infrastructure, security, transport and content delivery. Keene explained how the cloud had now passed Gartner's peak of inflated expectations and was heading for the trough of disillusionment, as negative press and disillusionment starts to appear. Keene said it means there are some questions to be asked/answered.

From the discussion panel, Steve Garrison from Infoblox talked about his company's VMware plugin with the aim of reducing the time to obtain an IP address. He said that the problem with optimising cloud is that it's about people, pipes, politics, and process, so savings come from automation.

Jeff Monroe of Verne Global said that his company had just built a datacentre in Iceland which offers free cooling without chillers. The problem is that people are putting servers in sub-optimal locations, such as city centres, he said.

Mattias Nass from ECI Telecom said that the big problem for cloud is the access networks which are giving users bandwidth problems. The challenges are who will pay for cloud services, opex and regulatory concerns. He pointed out that bandwidth is limited even in developed countries. The cost savings from the cloud mean no additional specialisation or spending on IT, especially in SMBs, he said.

Sean Larner of wireless company Xirrus was next onstage being interviewed by Manek Dubash, who was keen to understand how cloud and wireless fitted together. Larner said that the proliferation of devices in the enterprise as cloud access grows means there is demand for denser wireless networks. He said that the market will grow and that, as a vendor, branding the company as cloud-focused was important. He added that demand for wireless was already growing in a variety of areas, not just the executive suite.

Peter Hall, analyst with Ovum, introduced the next session which discussed self-service and auto-provisioning. Hall outlined how these were key questions for cloud implementations. Clouds are not automated, he said, and today we only have first generation services but you need end-to-end management and automation, and service providers who take responsibility to ensure applications actually work.

On the panel, Steve Garrison, Infoblox, said that what customers want is to stop fixing mundane processes and to automate, although this still needs to gain trust. Customers don't want to go to the public cloud because they don't know how to measure it, and they have no visibility of what's in there, he said.

Phil Tilley, Alcatel-Lucent, said that enterprises need a systems integrator to bring the various elements together to build a cloud solution. Service level agreements are a marketing gimmick unless you can measure it, he said, and that a key technique to prove application performance is deep packet inspection.

Andreas Stern, from testing company Spirent, said cloud providers need to partner. Discussing reliability, he pointed out that failover is an issue: even six nines (99.9999%) availability amounts to 52 minutes per year. Failover can even failover to the wrong network but, like a plane, you have to believe in the pilot and the technology. Defending the cloud will always be a challenge, he said.

That concluded the morning's proceedings, and the plenary broke up for individual meetings.

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