I spent tuesday at DeployCon, a conference about enterprise platform services. Some of the sessions were great. Most notably, Dave McCrory’s Data Gravity talk, Das Kamhout’s talk about Intel’s PaaS journey, and David Mortman Cover your PaaS talk about PaaS security. Here are a few tweets from the conference.
Those talks were great but there were also several panel sessions that were, to put it politely, very unsatisfying. This problem is nothing specific to DeployCon. Most generic (not focussed on a particular product/service) cloud events that I’ve attended over the past five years have been equally unsatisfying. While the “What is a cloud?” discussion that was prevalent in 2008-2009 has mostly gone away, so much of what is said during the panel discussion consists of vague, high-level generalities. Periodically, I wanted to shout: “I don’t know what you are saying“.
So why is this? Recently I’ve been reading the excellent book To Save Everything, Click Here: The Folly of Technological Solutionism. One interesting point in the book is that “the Internet” is a vague, nebulous concept and that when we talk about it rather than the specific inventions, people, and companies that are utilizing the network, “our technological debates will remain lazy, shallow, and unproductive”.
Perhaps the same is true when it comes to “Cloud” and “PaaS”. Those terms are simply too vague and nebulous and that if you want to have a meaningful discussion then you need to talk about specific products, people and companies in that space. So, for example, if you are organizing a Cloud/PaaS conference then have real users talk about their experiences deploying applications with a specific public PaaS; or describe how they built a private PaaS. Have users describe their failures with PaaS. And instead of talking about PaaS and big data, what about their experiences with NoSQL database X and PaaS Y. Instead of lots of handwaving fill the schedule with one concrete example after another.