Guy Shahine's Blog

CloudCamp Seattle

Few weeks ago, I attended the CloudCamp event that was held at the Amazon headquarters in Seattle. For anyone who couldn’t make it, here’s my take:

The event started with a 5 min talk by the main sponsors (For more details about the speakers, check out the schedule at CloudCamp Seattle):

Amazon: The presenter pitch was around the idea that the cloud is secure and that the concept might have changed. Historically, you probably were able to point at or hug your machines and call them yours, but once you connect them to the internet, the question becomes “are they secure?”. Steve believes that the statement “the Cloud is insecure” is not true, “what’s secure anyway?”

IBM: I was so happy to know for the first time where IBM is partially heading toward, they’ve been talking about cloud and green earth and those nice commercials for months but on the technical ground I didn’t see a defined story. During Tony’s (who’s not a technical guy, he’s more of a sales/business person) presentation, it was a product pitch about what they call WebSphere CloudBurst/Hypervisor Editions (ouuu fancy name). Here’s the one sentence that summarizes his whole 7 minutes talk “They provide an appliance (the size of a pizza box, he said it like 10 times) that you connect to your network and machines, and what it provides a Front End between you and your machines sitting in your own data center or lab to spin up Virtual Machines and control the environment”

Windows Azure: The presentation was an overview of the Windows Azure Platform features. I wish the talk was around how Windows Azure brings value as a cloud platform. Well, I guess there is very little that you can squeeze in a 5 minutes talk.

Skytap: it was a pure product pitch delivered in a super boring manner. Their website has an overview of what they do, the presentation didn’t bring any value other than repeating this description.

Atlantic.NET: NO SHOW

Hubspan: Business talk, the presenter was really funny and the presentation was engaging. The talk was mostly addressed to business owners/investors and pretty much how the cloud can promote the old business model.

Guest Speaker: Patrick from a local company (forgot the name) that runs financial profiling to give you advice on the stock/mutual funds/… that you need to invest in. If you’re curious: I chatted with the dude, and they don’t take customers with less than a million dollars in investment

Then we moved to the Unpanel section where the audience asked 9 questions related to cloud: 6 answered by people who called themselves cloud experts, 3 answered from the audience (1 of them by me). Example questions: In the light of wikileaks being kicked out by Amazon, where does cloud stand providers stand ? Where do you think the NoSQL database is heading toward? Name one type of business or firm that can’t move to cloud, and give facts? Where does cloud stand on multiple geo located databases and how do you keep them in sync? Where does cloud stand in the open source community? … etc

Finally the unconference time came where around 7 people from the audience suggested topics to chat about. Some of the topics were: Cloud APIs, Open source community, Windows Azure 101, Google Webservices 101, CloudDatabase discussion … others

That’s it, let me know if you have any questions.

Three Days at Microsoft’s PDC

How was PDC this year?

Last week (Nov. 17-19), Microsoft gathered around developers, architects, media, etc.. at the Convention Center in LA in an event called Professional Developer Conference (PDC09). Unlike previous years where Microsoft used to announce new products at PDC, this year was more focused on accomplishing the announcements that were made before, for example: the launch of Windows Azure and the launch of Windows 7, or what’s coming up in the next version of previously released Microsoft products, for example: Microsoft Visual Studio 2010, Microsoft Office 2010, Microsoft Internet Explorer 9, Microsoft Silverlight 4.

Who am I?

I’m a developer on the Windows Azure team and in the past year and a half, I was part of the on-boarding team where I work closely with developers that are building services on top of Windows Azure platform.

Guy Shahine

Windows Azure at PDC

The Windows Azure lounge was one of the busiest places for three consecutive days (there is a Lebanese saying: “The monkey is a gazelle in the eyes of his mother”, but I’m telling the truth here). Everyone seemed interested and people were lining up for three hours to get a spot for the hands on labs (alright, we were giving a flip camera for every attendee that finishes one lab exercise and one Windows Azure session, but the third day we ran out of cameras and the labs were still full). Oh, and did I mention the container? Windows Azure had a datacenter container on site. The container is a smaller version than the original ones but it was still very exciting to see one of them.

Windows Azure Container

I was fortunate to be helping in the hands-on labs, where I had the chance to stumble upon people who were only interested in getting the camera instead of taking the opportunity to learn something. The best one was a lady in her 50s who waited in line for like two hours, and I was very happy to see a dedicated person that can’t wait to play with the labs (the thought of her waiting for a camera didn’t cross my mind for 2 seconds) until she made a typo while following the lab walkthrough and she called me to ask what does the underlying red zigzag means under her using statement and that her application is not running when hitting the “run” button. What did I do? Well, I gave her a stamp and sent her in piece for her little camera. The second best one was from a person with an eastern European accent, who skipped the 3 hours like and came directly to me: “Look, I am not a programmer and I don’t know how to write code, but I want the camera and there is no point for me to wait in line and reserve a station, so can you give me a stamp?”, I replied: “no”, He replied: “But why?”, I replied: “If you wait in line and your turn arrives I’ll personally give you a stamp without the need to finish the lab”, he ran away 🙂 .

Windows Azure Hands-on labs queue

Overall, the experience was awesome and the customers were very interested. Many of the attendees had very good questions and feedback, others were still interesting which led me to write this blog post 🙂 .