Thursday, December 05, 2013

Podcast: AWS re:Invent 2013 with Jane Circle

Red Hat's Jane Circle works with our certified cloud provider program and attended AWS re:Invent this year along with a number of other Red Hat folks. This year's event was twice as big as last year's and, among other things, featured an increased enteprise focus. Jane talks about what she heard from customers at the event and shares some observations about cloud security, cloud adoption, and cloud management.

Some relevant links:

Red Hat Storage Data Protection Workshops (tickets still available for Toronto and San Diego)
Amazon re:Invent

Listen to MP3 (0:12:33)
Listen to OGG (0:12:33)


Gordon Haff:  Hi, everyone. This is Gordon Haff, Cloud Evangelist with Red Hat. Today, I'm sitting here with Jane Circle, who heads Red Hat's Certified Cloud Provider Program. Welcome, Jane.
Jane Circle:  Thanks, Gordon. Glad to be here.
Gordon:  The reason we're having this podcast right now is Jane and a bunch of other Red Hat folks just got back from Amazon AWS re:Invent, out in not so lovely Las Vegas.
This is the second year of the show. Tell me, at a high level, what some of your impressions are and how things were different this year from last year.
Jane:  That's a great way to start. First of all, the attendance. We had about twice as many people, this year, at AWS.
They had about 8,500 people in attendance and about, I'd say, 200 sponsors this year, which was about a threefold increase from the sponsors from last year. It was a much bigger show.
From the AWS point of view, they really focused on introducing new services for enterprise customers. We also talked to a lot of our own enterprise customers in our booth and on the show floor.
Gordon:  I didn't make it out there this year, but I was listening to the keynotes over the Internet. I was struck, in Werner Vogels' keynote, how many of the things he announced and talked about were things that are very directly relevant to IT shops.
Jane:  Absolutely. Their focus is on commercial customers moving to the cloud, obviously, and still talking a lot about wholesale movement to the cloud.
What we found, when we talked to customers actually on the floor, is customers are still in the planning stages and just‑getting‑started stages, whether that's a one‑year or a three‑year project.
What they're most interested in, at least in talking to us at Red Hat about, is how they can manage AWS as a public cloud in conjunction with their data center resources. That was a big focus and concern for them.
Gordon:  Amazon even used the "hybrid" word up on stage this time, even though they still, of course, believe everything will be public and the on‑premise data center is a passing fad.
The amount of interest in hybrid out there is striking. It's even pushed Amazon to acknowledge that this is the reality if they want to sell to enterprise businesses.
Jane:  Absolutely. I agree with that. Certainly, our messages with open hybrid cloud resonate very well and worked in nicely with that talk, with Vogels' talk, as well as some of the other services that they're offering.
Gordon:  I was at re:Invent last year. Talking to people over by our booth, I would just say the majority of folks there were "Red Hat, you do Linux." Were things any different this year?
Jane:  They were hugely different. First of all, I didn't have any Microsoft aficionados coming by, saying, "What's Red Hat Enterprise Linux?"
There's a good understanding that Linux, and especially Red Hat Enterprise Linux, is the operating system to power the cloud. We didn't have to have that talk.
What we did find is that customers were very interested in cloud solutions. What can they take today and implement and then take into the future one year and three years out, and how can Red Hat help them plan for that?
When we talked to customers, we talked about our complete cloud stack, which was very important to them, that we don't just have point solutions. We don't have solutions that just, frankly, enable a service, a point service, or a point solution on AWS. We can help them with the breadth of our portfolio.
Gordon:  People often talk about developing applications for "the cloud," whatever they mean by that exactly. The popular image is of this long‑haired developer in sandals doing this DevOps‑y sort of thing, depending on what they mean by that word exactly. Is that a type of developer that you're talking to, or is it really a broader mix?
Jane:  It's a much broader mix. From our standpoint, we love talking to the DevOps guys. They came by, by the droves, to our booth and to talk to us.
We also got a fair number of administrators coming by, wanting to understand how to manage the environment. We had very good demos on CloudForms.
We just released CloudForms 3.0, which will give our customers on AWS much more manageability and flexibility in looking at that as a resource in conjunction with their data center resources as well. I would say it was a good mix between DevOps folks, as well as admins.
Gordon:  Speaking of CloudForms 3, in addition to supporting OpenStack, which we announced out at the OpenStack Summit in Hong Kong, one of the things that really struck me from the AWS support in CloudForms 3 was the support for virtual private clouds.
Which a lot of organizations seem to be really cottoning on to as though "Maybe this is the way we get that additional level of control in a public cloud."
Jane:  We've had customers using VPCs, for years now, on AWS. It works out quite well for them. We're actually working in proof of concepts with one of our large enterprise customers, who is moving much of their production‑level applications to AWS.
They're doing it all through VPCs. That added capability is definitely needed. Again, our support with OpenStack makes a big difference to our customers.
The fact that we're on the forefront of really understanding, whether it's through a proof of concept with our customers or production‑level applications, that we understand what it means to actually build applications on a cloud.
It's not necessarily cloud‑centric. What they're looking at is a global policy for security across their entire organization, and VPCs are one way to achieve that.
Gordon:  Probably being a bit rude to our listeners. We probably ought to explain, for anybody who doesn't already know, what a VPC is. Take it away.
Jane:  [laughs] A VPC, simply within Amazon, stands for virtual private cloud. It's a way that, in layman's terms, a customer or a user can wall off an application or an environment such that it's only accessible via firewall.
It's basically a straight pipe back to their own application environment. It really affords a level of security that, in a multi‑tenant, unmanaged cloud, doesn't exist in other clouds.
Really, enterprises need this level of security for them to feel comfortable moving to the cloud. Even when our customers are using VPCs... AWS will talk about this too... there's still this visceral feeling within security operations groups that it's still not safe.
That's not the case at all. VPCs offer a very high level of security for our customers. We feel comfortable with our customers using it.
Right now, we have actually moved a customer using our own security environment all the way to AWS. We have professional consultants that are very well‑versed in VPCs and how to use them, and so does AWS.
Gordon:  There certainly are some very legitimate reasons why folks will still want to run their own data centers. There are certainly governance issues, compliance issues, and various legal types of restrictions, on where data can be stored, for example. But the "Public clouds are insecure" really seems increasingly naive these days.
Jane:  I don't hear that much anymore. That may still, as I said, be a visceral reaction, but when you actually get down to the planning and the architecture, our security operations people readily embrace them.
We can do a reference architecture that includes VPCs, and our enterprise customers feel comfortable with that.
Gordon:  Let's move on to some other elements of the stack. Data is a big deal with the cloud. We talk about, for instance, having portable applications, portable workloads, that kind of thing, but portable data is, arguably, at least as important.
Jane:  AWS made some announcements around Hadoop at the conference. We actually just released a new version of Red Hat Storage, which supports Hadoop and Big Data applications.
We had the opportunity, at re:Invent, to hold a boot camp, which essentially was a six‑hour, full‑on training session for attendees that wanted to come and learn about how to move data and secure data.
Also, with these Big Data applications, scalability and flexibility is a huge issue. With the new version of Red Hat Storage, we've added features to allow for that, for these Big Data applications.
That was a great opportunity for us to connect with those attendees, hear their use cases, and work with them almost one on one during this training session. That was a really positive experience as part of re:Invent.
Gordon:  That's GlusterFS, for people who are maybe more familiar with the community name of the project. There's also a lot going on with OpenStack, with Gluster and Red Hat Storage Server as well.
Jane:  Absolutely. That's really exciting work that we're doing in the community.
Also, I should just mention that if folks want to know more about Red Hat Storage, they're actually running a roadshow now. I'm not sure all the cities that they're going to be in, but I'm sure we have information, Gordon, that you can provide to them on that.
Gordon:  There will be a link on my blog post, once this podcast is posted. I do have to give a shout‑out to one of our developer evangelists, who got the number one session ranking at re:Invent.
Jane:  Steve Citron‑Pousty. He is an amazing evangelist. If any of you have a chance to see him speak and to hear him, he's just fantastic. He's entertaining. He's energetic as all get‑out.
He conveys an enormous amount of information in a small amount of time. He had one of the main tent sessions at re:Invent. We were just thrilled when he got number one speaker. Some of the comments were fantastic.
He really took everyone through the paces of OpenShift, which is our Platform‑as‑a‑Service offering that comes in three different flavors. He really concentrated on the entire ecosystem and how to build a PaaS and integrate a PaaS on top of an IaaS stack like AWS. It was really fantastic.
Gordon:  It's pretty amazing to see how Amazon Web Services and re:Invent have come along. I was an industry analyst before joining Red Hat. I wrote my first research note about Amazon Web Services just in 2006, which is not all that long ago.
Now, you have a show in Vegas with 8,000 or however many attendees. It really is an important factor in the industry.
Jane:  It is, and it's international as well. Besides AWS having eight regions, the uptick in our customers wanting to understand how they can incorporate AWS and public cloud is across the board, in every region.
In fact, we had a contingent of our Japanese customers who came to AWS, which we thought was fantastic, along with a translator and everything. They were there to learn and to also understand where is AWS going to go for the next year.
We can clearly see that they're going to be adding more services, as they already have. We'll go right along with them.
Not to give short shrift, at all, to the fact that we have millions of customers running Red Hat Enterprise Linux, now on‑demand and also using our Red Hat Cloud Access, which is a bring‑your‑own‑subscription model, to move their subscriptions to AWS and build their applications there.
It's Japanese. It's over in Europe. It's certainly over here in the United States. Their fastest growing region still is in APAC.
Gordon:  Great. Anything else, Jane?

Jane:  No. It was a great experience. We are now getting ready for Red Hat Summit, which we can't wait for, coming up in April.

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