Under-the-Hood Cloud Computing: Technical Understanding for Decision-Makers

The two most powerful forces of change in the world of computing at the moment are virtualization (so-called "clouds" driven by software like OpenStack) and containerization (LXC and Docker). In this talk, we focus on clouds, while contrasting them with the container approach. The ultimate goal is to present a realistic view of what "The Cloud" really is, and to emphasize that it's something that you already understand and do not need to view as a black box.

When most people think of "The Cloud", they might think of Amazon's ubiquitous AWS, or of something like Dropbox or GMail--services that are able to scale seemingly without bound. But what's actually going on underneath the hood? And if you've got a Drupal site, how do you make your site handle additional content or a sudden influx of users with the sort of grace and aplomb with which GMail takes care of a few tens of thousands of new messages or new accounts? In this talk, we'll define—and then progressively demystify—what the cloud is and does, and explain how you can build your very own cloud on your desktop or laptop for free. Then we'll take a look at the difference between those sorts of clouds and what a cloud service provider offers, touching on straightforward topics like SANs, as well as arcanery like SDN and dynamic heterogeneous live-migration. We'll finish by looking at differentiation amongst cloud service providers, understanding what trade-offs they've made in the course of building out their infrastructure.

At the end of this session, attendees will be able to clearly define what a cloud is (and is not), be able to stand up a fully-functional, API-driven cloud on their own machines, and have the tools necessary to evaluate cloud service providers, whether virtualization or container-based, on more than just their marketing materials. Throughout the presentation, simple, approachable language will be employed; this is firmly aimed at programmers and business decision-makers, rather than sysops or devops, so come prepared with questions!

Session Track

Business and Strategy

Experience Level


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