Bulletin March 9 2018. On Cloud, serverless and all that – are we there yet?

This week sees the tenth anniversary of CloudCamp, an ‘unconference’ which, despite its anarchic style, seems to run just as smoothly as any non-unconference I have ever been to — even conferences that aren’t called conferences still need to be organised (and it was, very well). During last night’s London event two of its founders, Joe Baguley and Simon Wardleycontinued the double act pitting hybrid vs purer forms of cloud computing, the latter overloaded with terms like ‘serverless’, ‘FaaS’ and so on.

Ignoring that the discussion would have gone over the heads of all but the deeply technical (“But, this is one of the least technical events you can come to!” protested one, momentarily forgetting just how much technological knowledge lay behind these innocuous terms), we have its continued debate. On one side, that technology will continue to commoditise, and on the other, that it will continue to diversify. Each are right, creating both dilemma and opportunity for evangelists and those liking a good chat in either camp. And, given that the themes have got a good couple of decades to run yet, so will it continue. 

I’m guilty as charged. Back in 2000 I penned two reports: the 50-page “From Application Service Provider to Universal Service Provider” which extrapolated the eCommerce and ASP thinking of my then-boss and mentor, Robin Bloor; and “Development is Dead”, which I wrote based on my own experiences as a software development consultant. At the heart is of each is that, while software has the potential to become easier, reducing both barriers to entry and time to delivery, hardware and infrastructure will only get more complex. Because it can. 

This dichotomy is as true today as it always has been. ‘Serverless’ software development can exist anywhere there is a server, which is an increasingly wide pool: even so-called ‘edge’ devices (from Echo Dots to toasters) can serve data or indeed, functions. I remember a discussion a long time ago with Akamai, about edge computing — in a nutshell, why send the data to the functionality of you can shift the functionality to the data? The fact that sometimes one will make sense, sometimes the other, is precisely what makes things so difficult: we inevitably end up with a constantly shifting, increasingly complex combination of both. 

None of this is a problem, it’s part of the rich, dynamic tapestry of standardisation and commoditisation versus very real limitations of resources such as bandwidth, processing, storage, electrical power and so on. Cost is a consequence of all such constraints in that, sure, we’d all have mainframes in the basement if we could afford them. But we can’t (even to replace our heating systems), and we never will be able to as long as the volumes of data we create continue to exceed our ability to process it all. On we go. 

[Oh and a final point, another CloudCamp founder was Dave Nielsen, yes, he of the infamous (in my head) series of serendipitous moments at AWS a couple of years ago.]

With all this in mind, here’s some articles from this week. 


For most firms GDPR is an opportunity, not a threat

GDPR is going to run and run. I can’t say I blame every person and their dog looking to jump on the GDPR bandwagon, let’s face it, cybersecurity and compliance software vendors and consultants have not had the easiest of rides. What some look at as ambulance chasing or FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt) spreading, I see as — have you ever actually tried to get budget for anything relating to these areas without some sword of Damocles hanging over the head of the CFO? All the same, a crapload of confusion exists around GDPR right now. Solution: the ICO has a free helpline, so use it. 


5 questions for… TechVets

My inaugural 5 questions article is on the back of another event, this one to help ex-service personnel get jobs in the tech industry. It’s a laudable initiative, serving all parties involved. It also prompts questions about the societal constructs we create for ourselves, and how hard it is to switch from one to the other. 



My Journey to Widor continues — if you haven’t been following, it’s taking me from a keyboard novice to being able to play a tough, but fabulous organ pieces I’m recording progress as a series of vlogs, to be frank because putting it out there means I can’t stop as I’ll look stupid. So, sitrep: I’ve got as far as tackling Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata, which for some reason I’ve been memorising (it seemed like a good idea at the time). Progress video here — I’m pretty made up to be playing such a beautiful piece, despite all the mistakes.

Finally, thank you to all my subscribers. Any questions or feedback, let me know.

Until next time, Jon

Bulletin March 9 2018. On Cloud, serverless and all that – are we there yet?

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