GigaOm Structure Europe reminds us that we know absolutely nothing about “The Cloud”

Sep 23, 2013
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GigaOM StructureEurope: 2013

Last week just across the street from the Tower of London, GigaOm hosted the second edition of Structure Europe, a two-day conference focusing on the next big innovations in Cloud Computing. While last year’s edition featured name-brand speakers like Box COO Dan Levin and Amazon CTO Werner Vogels, this year went head-first deep into the growing pool of “Cloud” companies – that is, not companies built on the cloud, but companies building, streamlining, and improving the cloud.

With sponsors like EMC, Softlayer & Rackspace, I knew very quickly that I wasn’t at another startup conference, I had ventured into an IT conference. I sat in on talks oriented towards cloud startups, which spoke of ‘technical resistance to change,’ the idea that building a new cloud technology will not get adopted by clients just because it is 2x effective, but needs to be 10x effective, and needs to be able to improve over time to continue to be 10x more effective than competitors that will come along.

The startup competition still featured interesting startups – I was quite intrigued with Import.io, a startup that allows users to structure unstructured data on the internet by teaching the advanced scraping mechanism what you’re looking for (the changing price of a product on a given site over time, for example), which Import.io then dumps into an excel sheet for you.

I had the pleasure of running into BIME Analytics CEO Rachel Delacour, whose startup runs Business Intelligence analytics in the cloud (specifically, AWS and a bit of Google’s Compute Engine). As CEO, she has an obligation to be at some of the industry events; however, her reason for attending was ‘inspiration,’ and she seemed particularly satisfied with Facebook’s VP of Infrastructure Frank Frankovsky (a summary of his talk here).

Whereas most conferences will merely skim the surface of rising trends, more or less reiterating ideas expressed in Gartner’s Hype Cycle – Structure Europe chose to take one topic in the Internet Industry, namely its infrastructure, and delve into it deeply, exploring Software-Defined Networks (SDNs), Data Science, noSQL v. MySQL, Open Stack, and so much more.

Conferences like these are great for startups who want to go from being in the ‘startup sector’ to the actual sector of activity that their startup wishes to disrupt. For me, GigaOm Structure Europe served as a crash course in the Cloud, and I’ve got quite a bit of reading to catch up on in order to complete that course.