Bill Roth, Ulitzer Editor-at-Large

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Cloud Expo: Way Cool Stuff and Seven Versions of the Same Company

Cloud Expo was a great show and it had great traffic

I have a love/hate relationship with trade shows. On the one hand, I love them. I love meeting customers and prospects, and I love the shameless boosterism that it entails. On the other hand, as someone who has to manage to a budget and deliver ROI, I hate them. The ROI never works out. From a numbers point of view, they are nearly always a waste of money. (Except in Europe. I am still looking into that one).

We recently attended the Cloud Expo/Virtualization Expo in Santa Clara, put on by my old friends at SYS-CON. The traffic was good, and the content was too. In the past, I have railed against the phrase “cloud computing” being “content free”. For folks like CTERA, it means storage on a network, for VMware it means virtualization, and for Amazon it means a deployment platform where the hardware is invisible.

That said, I saw two cool things at Cloud Expo. The first is an innovative attempt to build a cloud eco-system, attempting to bring technology buyers and sellers together. The second is the coolest device since the SunRay, which seeks to do virtualized desktops.

6Fusion
6Fusion
would like to become the middleman in cloud computing. They have a model where they seek to bring both consumers and providers of cloud services together in an eco-system. This eco-systems would allow cloud consumers to buy units of compute time, called a Workload Allocation Cube. Workload Allocation Cube is essentially a blended model of memory, CPU, and disk storage and I/O over time. It also seeks to make it easy for providers to bring their software on line easily so they can offer it to the consumer base.

Now, I know a little about building communities, having worked on J2EE, and OpenOffice.org while at Sun. It is difficult and to be truly successful, you need the wind at your back…you need to be riding a market “wave”, like the Java wave for J2EE. Cloud computing is not so much a wave as a collection of technologies lumped under one sure-to-confuse-and-obscure phrase. The challenge for 6Fusion is to become appealing to a broad model of vendors and consumers so true value can be imparted. While I am bullish on the model, their success is by no means assured.

NComputing
One of my favorite gadgets of the last 10 years was the Timex/Microsoft collaboration on a watch that you could sync with your PC by holding it up to the screen. A news story said it had the larges “NFW” scores the author had seen. NComputing’s new device struck me the same way. The product is so small, I thought it was a USB hub tradeshow product. But no, that’s the product, which is ostensibly a “virtualized” desktop. A “virtualized” desktop, is essentially a PC session that is like a screen sharing session across the internet.

NComputing’s device which has connectors for a keyboard, video and mouse. It apparently has an ARM chip in it which handles processing the network traffic and all the  IO. I have asked the company for a review version, and I’ll write up a review if/when I get one.

Seven Versions of the Same Company
My final observation from Cloud Expo is that I swear I saw seven versions of the same company. It is a company that provides a platform for managing VMs across an array of hardware. This company also provides the ability to manage multiple types of VMs. Not just VMware, but Xen and others as well. They also touted the ability to translate from one VM format to another. CA had an offering for this, as did at least six other companies.

This tells me two things. First, there is a a lot of money going into this field. Second, that there is going to be a shake out, and a bunch of people are going to lose money. But such is the way of things.

Cloud Expo was a great show, and it had great traffic. I loved it. Now all we have to do is find a way to make money off shows like this.

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More Stories By Bill Roth

Bill Roth is a Silicon Valley veteran with over 20 years in the industry. He has played numerous product marketing, product management and engineering roles at companies like BEA, Sun, Morgan Stanley, and EBay Enterprise. He was recently named one of the World's 30 Most Influential Cloud Bloggers.