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Wrapping up Cloud Expo 2012

June 26, 2012 / Evolve IP

 

We had a great time at the 10th Cloud Expo 2012. It was my first time at a
Cloud Expo show, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. But man, what a blast it turned out to be. Great exhibits, great audience, great floor traffic, great conversations with IT leaders and folks in the channel.

Evolve IP showcased our featured products — virtual desktop, cloud call center, and virtual server — and our people, through presentations, demos, and social media. Now that the smoke has cleared, I’d like to share what I felt were our own highlights, as well as some of the hot topics I heard most on the show floor.

Our VDI demos were a big hit. Our demo of our cloud-based virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) running on the iPad turned out to be the hottest thing going. I would go so far as to say it stole the show. In our demo, we hooked up an iPad (and/or Motorola Xoom) to one of our 26-inch monitors; fired up the Evolved Office: Desktop; and showed the potential of this technology with the Office 2010 suite, and even Photoshop CS6. People were flocking to it like flies to honey.

We were also demonstrating VDI running on a 5+ year old Dell laptop. Since the desktop is running in the cloud, it was behaving like a Quad Core i7 with 8Gb RAM rather than an early Core 2 Duo with 2Gb RAM, which is the actual hardware on the machine. Windows running fast on an iPad is cool, but showing it running so snappy on antiquated hardware is just as powerful.

The performance and user experience were outstanding, and many people were blown away. I’ll admit to having trepidations about our ability to demo this technology due to the, shall we say, minimal, bandwidth available at the Jacob Javits Center during the show. The worrying turned out to be for naught; however, as our VDI demos went smooth as glass.

I took in all of the competitors’ VDI demos, and noticed a lot of issues with lag and disconnections stalling their presentations. Thankfully, our architecture proved up to the challenge, and showed it’s optimal for bandwidth-constrained mobile VDI.

iPad running Windows and Photoshop CS6 via the Evolved Office: Desktop VDI
Photoshop was installed and running on the iPad in minutes. I even created this graphic as part of the demo. Note how the iPad detects the monitor and keyboard and turns itself into a giant trackpad.

Our Windows-on-iPad demo surprised attendees. We spent a lot of time showing people how VDI “doesn’t suck” on a tablet. You’ve seen the other demos, where people struggle to run a Windows desktop app on a tablet via VDI, because Windows isn’t a native touch interface.That’s not the case when running our chosen app, VMView from VMWare. People were amazed that they were able to use Windows on the iPad or Android, and it felt and worked like a real PC with an embedded virtual keyboard and virtual touch pad — but on a tablet!

Once connected to a monitor (via VGA/HDMI adaptor or AirPlay), the iPad itself becomes a split touchpad and keyboard. Hook up a Bluetooth keyboard and the iPad becomes a giant trackpad. These are fun aspects to demo and elicit some genuine “oohs” and “aahs”. One skeptic rolled up to me and asked, “Can you really treat this like your own desktop? And if you can, to what extent?” I asked him what he did for a living.

Turned out he’s a graphic designer. So I offered to install Photoshop CS6 right then and there, using my iPad, over the Javits Center’s aforementioned crummy Internet connection. He laughed and hung around to see me fail. Five minutes later (literally), he was watching CS6 run on the iPad, fast as all get out. He was sold.

And so were lots of other folks who, for the first time in their careers, realized that maybe, just maybe, a tablet can now serve as a true desktop replacement. It used to be that the term “desktop replacement” meant a $1500-$3500 laptop that weighed ten to 15 pounds. Now, thanks to the Evolved Office: Desktop, it’s a thin and light tablet that fits in your briefcase or shoulder bag.

Joe Corvaia’s TCO keynote rocked the house. Joe’s presentation, “Cloud VDI: Leveraging the Full Potential of the Cloud,” was practically standing room only. He gave attendees a useful road map for replacing their costly desktop infrastructure with a cloud-based virtual desktop, saving money without sacrificing functionality. He also shared best practices for measuring TCO of a VDI. That info alone had people’s heads spinning and pens jotting. Apparently this is a topic most VDI vendors can’t answer. Joe can, and did. Check out a video of the TCO component of his presentation here.

TMCNET peered into Evolve’s crystal ball. TMCnet editor Erin Harrison stopped by our booth to get Joe’s take on what’s next for cloud computing. You can hop over to our blog post recapping Joe Corvaia’s TMCNET interview to catch the full conversation.

Hanging out with our partners and some new friends. We synced up with a lot of our partners at Cloud Expo and made some new friends. It was great to see our partners at Fortress ITX, Princeton Hosted Solutions, and Intelisys. We had a great time at Server Central’s networking reception at the Ainsworth and made some new friends with our booth neighbors at GlobalKnowledge and Ricoh. The show had a very collaborative vibe to it and, technology aside, it was the people that made it a memorable experience.

As far as hot topics on the show floor, the big ones were cloud security, cloud performance enhancement, and cloud reliability. The talk was around security was mostly around data encryption and data access. These security discussions were being driven by the folks you would suspect; the vendors, network admins, and top-level IT leaders. What surprised me the most were the amount of application developers in attendance.

Developers are looking for ways to capitalize on the cloud, and are trying to figure how to use, for example, virtual desktops as a delivery mechanism for some of their apps. They were also asking how they can leverage cloud hosting, cloud servers, and cloud architecture not only for their own organizations, but also so they can advise their customers. Development shops are asked all the time about these things, and they need good answers.

And I think a lot of the security, performance, and data management concerns developers and, frankly, others have about the cloud can be traced to a lack of understanding about how the cloud differs from the way we’re used to doing things. It’s a conceptual shift. You used to have your own data center with lots of blinking lights. You knew your data was secure because you were the one controlling the firewall, you were the one setting the policies, you were the one configuring security on the servers.

Now your company, your customers, and the market overall — in other words, your competitors are increasingly there — are applying pressure for your applications and data to be housed in someone else’s data center, in this buzzworthy thing we call the cloud. In truth, “someone else’s data center,” if you’re choosing a good provider such as Evolve IP, is going to be infinitely more secure than any development or small business IT team could ever achieve.

Evolve IP, and any other cloud service provider worth their salt, are running Fortune 100-level best-of-breed equipment, and are staffed with some of the industry’s most experienced networking and security engineers. But fear often trumps facts. There’s still that “out of sight, out of mind” concern.

People are used to being able to walk into their data center, see the blinking lights, touch the consoles, and do the care and feeding they’ve become accustomed to. That’s all becoming abstracted out to the cloud now. And they have to trust the assurances of the cloud providers that, yes, we have all of our SOC certifications, we’re PCI certified, your data is encrypted, your virtual private cloud is actually your private cloud, and so on.

So, I still saw lots of people struggling with that perceptual leap at Cloud Expo. The industry as a whole needs to help them with that understanding. And I’m happy to step up and start. In my next post, I’m going to show you how I have started eating the Evolve IP dog food, and how it is transforming my work life. I decided to dump my laptop for a week and work solely on my iPad, using Evolve IP’s virtual desktop. The experience was mind blowing, even for a guy who promotes and sells this stuff. Keep an eye on the Cloud IQ blog for that.

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