Day in the Cloud at IDF Beijing and Building Cloud Computing Foundations

Maybe it’s because I’m in the capital city of a thousands  year old culture, but I found myself being philosophical in viewing the Day  in the Cloud event in Beijing yesterday.  As I walked around  the room looking at partners showcasing their cloud computing solutions developed in partnership with our Cloud  Builders program, I thought back on a quote from Thoreau that I’ve  always liked:

If you have built  castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be.  Now put the foundations under them.

Listening to the cloud zeitgeist over the past couple of  years, one could easily surmise that cloud meant many things to many  people.  Software services, the next wave of virtualization…or web.   The death of the corporate data center perhaps or a one fits all model offered  by a large solutions provider.  To say that the industry has spent a lot  of time talking about cloud would be an understatement, but as you pull back the  curtains on the hype real value is revealed.  We see an ability to deliver  IT resources when and where they’re needed and to empower users the access to  the services they need in a timeframe that is inconceivable in traditional  terms.  With this change we also see the capability of IT organizations to  streamline operations and place their investment in solution innovation and  business value, not the steady stream of money going to oversight of current  assets that bleeds IT budgets today.  And ultimately, if done well, we see  a world where data centers can interconnect to flow compute capacity where  required and provide both individual users and corporations the security of  having the right IT compute capacity without the cost of  over-provisioning.  So perhaps the industry is correct in building our  castles in the air as we know that as an industry that’s where we’ve always  placed them and that’s where the greatest visions of the future can become  reality.

But just as we dream about this bold vision of a new  computing reality, we must reflect on the fact that the data centers of  tomorrow will continue to be run on hardware, and this hardware working  together with software developed to provide the security, efficiency and  automation the cloud requires, will form the foundation of our computing  future.  Intel  Cloud Builders is all about building that foundation in the form of  industry collaboration on focused cloud  computing reference architectures that address unique challenges  facing the evolution of data center computing to cloud models.  These are  the sticky technical requirements that IT is seek…things like trusted compute  pools, data center level automated efficiency…standard approaches to cloud  on-boarding…that will let cloud infrastructure grow from the early deployments  of today to the expected ubiquity of tomorrow’s vision.  And it’s in this  ubiquity that cloud delivers its real value and the wide scale federation of  data centers become a reality. Our second Day in the Cloud event featured eight  of our most recent reference architectures from some of the leading cloud  computing solutions providers in the China market as well as some of  our global partners.  For details on each of the reference architectures check out my teammate Rekha  Raghu’s blog.

What was fascinating about the  event for me as we started with presentations from Intel’s Jason Waxman and  Billy Cox, and as they told the story of Intel’s vision for cloud and the  details of the cloud builders program one editor raised his hand and said “I  have a simple question...why Intel and cloud”.  It’s a question I’ve heard  before (not unique to China), and it’s an understandable one that usually comes  from people who have heard all about the vision of cloud but not reflected on  the technology stacks required to deliver this vision.  Billy described  our deep engagement with leaders in the industry on our collaborative solutions  delivery, but I think the editor still didn’t buy it.

Intel Cloud Builders Day in the Cloud demonstrations to the press.

But then we moved  into the reference architecture room, with leading partners highlighting things like cloud on-boarding, trusted compute pools, and efficient data center  delivery.  There was Lenovo’s solution that provided a client aware  experience based on embedded APIs from Intel running on the hardware.  There were senior executives from Vmware and Microsoft speaking passionately  about how their reference architecture solutions are solving customer  requirements. There were senior technologists talking about the value  reference architecture collaboration with Intel has represented in hardening  their solutions. As groups of editors moved from solution to solution in a  frantic dance that Reuven Cohen CTO of Enomaly called “speed dating for the  cloud”, the rare glow of the results of deep collaboration was in there air,  and I think our guests saw the foundation being poured for broad cloud  deployments. We like to view it that as it has many times in the past, Intel  architecture forms the heart of this foundation with the performance engine to  fuel cloud technology integration and workloads such as Intel Trusted  Compute Technology (pdf) and Intel  Power Node Manager that help deliver the capabilities that will make  cloud evolution something IT can confidently navigate in driving to that vision  of cloud ubiquity.  Why Intel in the cloud? Because we want to continue to  enable the industry to build their castles in the air and provide the industry  the platform foundations to make these dreams a reality.