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Overheard on Twitter: All about agility at Cloud Connect conference

A chorus of tweets from attendees of the fourth annual Cloud Connect conference kept the rest of us updated during the four-day event.

The fourth annual Cloud Connect conference in sunny Santa Clara, Calif., brought together thousands of developers, IT managers, service providers and analysts April 2-5 to discuss, debate and sometimes deride the latest advances in cloud computing and virtualization. A wide swath of topics spanned the conference agenda, from application design to risk management to business models and beyond. As attendees bounced among lectures, roundtables and tutorials, TechTarget's @SearchCloudProv took stock of the thoughts circling in the Twittersphere.

Developer Lori MacVittie, who is also a senior technical marketing manager at F5 Networks, highlighted points from the keynote address by Bitcurrent analyst Alistair Croll. In the keynote, Croll put the notion of lean IT in perspective, looking at how companies can deliver efficient services from start to finish, and function more like an organism than an organization. Other talks throughout the day echoed his underlying message: Adaptability in the cloud is vital.

Deploycon, a sister conference to Cloud Connect that puts a spotlight on Platform as a Service (PaaS), was held in Santa Clara for the first time on April 2. Attendees like Ian Rae, CEO of Montreal-based provider CloudOps, sang the praises of the show's focus. Deploycon, operated in partnership with Cloud Connect, was created last year by market analyst Krishnan Subramanian (@krishnan); Sinclair Schuller (@sschuller), CEO of PaaS provider Apprenda; and Jared Wray (@jaredwray), chief technology officer (CTO) and co-founder of cloud provider Tier 3.

Amazon's role in the cloud computing world was a topic that caused some heated contention among conference attendees. Is the computing giant a boon or a bane to customers and other service providers? A few sparks flew in the Twitterverse as experts weighed in.

Richard Man, a regional manager at Earthlink, reiterated discussion panelists' opinion that Amazon's offerings encourage more cloud adoption in general.

ZapThink's Jason Bloomberg disagreed. Amazon Web Services' competitive pricing and expansive scale will leave other cloud providers trampled before they can benefit from overall shifts in the market.

OnApp founder Ditlev Bredahl made room for both cases at his expo floor session. Bredahl dove into the details of what has made some cloud providers successful while others have struggled to turn a profit. Thinking critically about the IaaS market, including your advantages and disadvantages over major players like AWS, is crucial to survival.

Some speakers got particularly creative in their presentations, as Cisco community evangelist Amy Lewis noted. The tweet seems to be the only record memorializing the talk by Rodrigo Flores, CTO of Cisco's intelligent automation solutions business unit, leaving those of us outside the convention center to wonder how exactly he managed to tie in the mystical creatures with the subject of delivering IT as a service.

Adrian Cockcroft, cloud architect at Netflix, was one among many attendees whose tweets channeled a dash of cynicism through the conference. Providers may be forward-thinking, but there's a gap to bridge in translating progression to hesitant users.

InformationWeek's Charles Babcock condensed some advice from the director of product management at Enstratius, a cloud management vendor. Her sentiments on the cloud application lifestyle paired well with Tuesday's workshop on managing hybrid cloud environments.

Dropping in on Lew Tucker’s keynote, where Cisco Systems' vice president and CTO of cloud computing zeroed in on nothing other than Cisco's favorite catchphrase: "the Internet of Everything." Mark Thiele, founder of the industry association Data Center Pulse and executive vice president of data center technologies at Switch, a colocation and cloud provider, pointed out the Jevons effect hanging over big data usage. As price goes down, spending goes up. Focusing on the proliferation of data in an app-centric environment, Tucker made the case that this cycle is a virtuous one.

In a flashback to Cloud Connect's second run, public relations consultant Robert Cathey noted that new business drivers have continued to accumulate in the enterprise troposphere. Whereas the cloud was initially marketed as the way to reduce capital expenses, customers and providers are now identifying more with the promise of increased agility in a cloud-based model.

In a session on application design and architecture, Enstratius' vice president of product strategy, James Urquhart, gave advice for developing resilient apps and the automation to run them. Creating apps compatible with multiple cloud services makes the most sense for reaching a global user base and optimizing offerings. Tackling the design process from the app to the infrastructure will aid that process, Urquhart explained.

Ultimately, vendors still struggle to articulate the concept and value of private cloud, according to Bias. Speaking on a panel about ways to address IT organizations' dissatisfaction with their infrastructure, Bias called out vendors for their lack of clarity on the matter.

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