Reviewing 2018 by Conferences
You’re a busy cloud professional, so you might’ve missed some events. To help you stay informed about the cloud industry, here’s what you might want to know from events I went to in 2018. I attended a few more events, but these stood out by providing key insights into the cloud industry.
My top-line cloud business take-away is simple: the industry buzz is about cloud-based AI and accelerating cloud computing instances for faster and more insightful analytics and AI, but savvy IT vendors are talking about how to make more powerful compute instances and AI work for you.
SXSW’s cloud discussion was dominated by artificial intelligence (AI) and blockchain. I enjoyed many sessions and discussions around the cultural and political impacts of AI and look forward to the same next March. The blockchain hype was just ramping up in earnest, I ignored most of it.
There was also strong quantum computing buzz continuing from the Quantum Supremacy race in late 2017, with William Hurley (whurley) launching Strangeworks during the event.
2. International Conference on Quantum Communication, Measurement and Computing (QCMC)
I was one of only a handful of non-physicists at QCMC this year, but it still gave an unparalleled view into the state of quantum computing research. My takeaway is that a lot of people and money are focused on solving the quantum computing challenge, but we are still at least a decade away from useful business applications for quantum in the cloud.
3. IBM Think
In 2018, IBM combined several smaller events into its inaugural Think conference. IBM delivered strong messaging around cloud-based AI and private cloud. While IBM’s Watson brand is getting a bit old, IBM Research is still delivering new AI capabilities at a fast pace. I will be interested to see how IBM’s recent announcement of its intent to acquire Red Hat impacts IBM’s Cloud Private roadmap.
4. Open Compute Project (OCP) US Summit
OCP Summit is where the cloud hardware ecosystem meets to exchange ideas on hyperscale datacenter architecture— the stuff large cloud service providers (CSPs) buy at insane volumes. The vendors all bring their latest gear, and all the cloud buyers show up to shop. This year, storage and AI acceleration gear was hot as was power delivery and water cooling solutions.
5. NVIDIA GPU Technology Conference (GTC)
NVIDIA invested big in AI about 5 years ago, and now dominates the AI training acceleration space. It went really big with the HGX-2 chassis connecting 16 Volta-generation GPUs. However, NVIDIA also started to beef up its AI inferencing product line and messaging, as massive scale inferencing is where most of NVIDIA’s emerging AI acceleration competition is focusing.
6. Big Communications Event (BCE)
A big cloud industry trend is telecommunication companies wanting to become CSPs. In that context, BCE’s strong focus was on datacenter network architecture. Optical interconnects are already in cloud datacenter core networks but are rapidly approaching rack-scale deployments. BCE hosts an OCP telecommunications focused workshop every year. BCE will rename itself the Big 5G Event in 2019 to reflect the importance of mobile.
7. Microsoft Ignite
Like IBM, Microsoft focused on AI and blockchain, but quantum computing was much less visible than Satya Nadella’s keynote introduction in 2017. Microsoft differentiated its overall strategy by emphasizing edge computing and pushing intelligence and AI to the edge of the network as part of its Internet of Things (IoT) initiatives. It also announced a bunch of Azure Box local storage appliances to catch up with AWS and Google Cloud. I wrote more these appliances in my article Microsoft Azure Picks Dell EMC For Edge Compute And Storage.
8. Xilinx Developer Forum (XDF)
XDF hadn’t been a cloud-focused event until 2018, when Xilinx announced its Alveo branded FPGA add-in boards. Xilinx’s Alveo boards will help standardize FPGA deployments between CSPs, creating a larger, more unified market for FPGA software developers. I wrote about Xilinx’s potential challenges in my article Xilinx To Compete With Intel, NVIDIA On Datacenter AI Acceleration.
9. Oracle OpenWorld
Oracle started making the shift to cloud late, at its 2013 OpenWorld event. However, its second-generation Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI), announced at this year’s event, is first-class cloud hardware architecture. Oracle will continue to build-out and expand its second-generation OCI in its public cloud datacenters during 2019. Also noteworthy, Oracle Cloud at Customer uses the same infrastructure as its public cloud, and that will continue for OCI as it upgrades in 2019.
10. The International Conference for High Performance Computing, Networking, Storage and Analysis (SC18)
The tech industry calls this annual event “Supercomputing”, and it is where the high-performance computing (HPC) market goes to shop for the latest datacenter gear. SC18 market trends were very clear: HPC is moving to the cloud, and AI is coopting most of the attention from classic HPC as CSPs increasingly deploy AI acceleration. AI started out by leveraging HPC gear for acceleration, now AI is driving infrastructure evolution.
11. Amazon Web Services (AWS) re:Invent
AWS is trying to pay more attention to mainstream enterprise customers. At re:Invent, AWS talked less about the vast number of its annual microservices and feature roll-outs and more on service-level announcements. It introduced useful services like AWS Control Tower, intended to better manage enterprise cloud-sprawl, bigger Snowball Edge Compute Optimized EC2 instances (some also include GPU compute acceleration) for storage-based edge computing, and S3 Glacier Deep Archive instances, which seem to be going after Iron Mountain’s archival business.
Bonus! 12 & 13
I’ll close-out 2018 next week by attending The Linux Foundation’s collocated KubeCon & CloudNativeCon events in Seattle. All the global CSPs are either Platinum or Gold sponsors. There is no better place to talk about public and private cloud software infrastructure.
These are just some of the events I’m planning to attend in 2019…
* Google Cloud Next San Francisco, CA April 2019
* OpenStack Summit Denver, CO May 2019
* VMware VMworld San Francisco, CA August 2019
* Telcom Infra Project (TIP) Summit Tbd Fall 2019
See you there!