Why Cloud Camp Hamburg sucked – and how this is a good example why we are lacking behind in Europe

Ok, I either got your attention now or you already put me on ignore in your brain. If you haven’t, keep on reading and I’ll try to explain myself.

Actually there was nothing wrong with Cloud Camp Hamburg as an event. It was perfectly organized with speakers talking about stuff they where well prepared to talk about, lot’s of smart people also in the audience, held at a nice location, completed with awesome catering and all that for free. Yet still Cloud Camp Hamburg sucked and since there was nothing wrong with the event itself the reason has to be something else.

It’s not even a problem with the Cloud Camp Hamburg but more a problem with every Cloud Camp or other Cloud event for that matter I visited so far. It’s a problem with us Europeans not getting the bigger picture because we are busy nitpicking on time consuming details. When I started this blog over two years ago I had no idea what Cloud Computing is. Even today I consider myself rather clueless. Yet still I started this blog and my company because I believe in the huge impact this paradigm shift is about to have. One can’t be into Cloud Computing without thinking big.

Now all the events, I visited all across Germany and Europe, reduced themselves to an event trying to sell inferior products instead of cooperating, discussing and innovating on the topic. As time goes on we are dropping further and further behind the big US companies because we are busy rambling about our oh so important data protection (e.g.). Yeah we are obsessed about data protection and don’t trust companies, and yeah I’m also concerned about keeping private what I consider private. But to innovate in technology, technology has to come first. And this is what we all together failed at yesterday and at every other occasion before.

With time this problem only becomes bigger. We should have stopped trying to fit everything into nice little boxes ages ago. But instead most of the people, including some of the speakers, don’t even understand that it can only be one Cloud. Maybe they do understand but are so stuck in their little competitive worlds that they don’t want to realize we are all in this together.

There are loads of smart people all across Europe. Yet still we are ages behind the US in everything Cloud. A topic that is widely predicted to become the next big paradigm shift in IT. And the main reason for that is that we do not use our potential because we are busy spreading FUD to cover up the fact our own products lack years behind – technology wise. This isn’t going to change if we don’t do anything about it obviously.

So to come back to the title of this post: Cloud Camp Hamburg sucked because it should have been an event to innovate on the topic rather than a event recapping what should already be common knowledge. A good example for this was the keynote. Chris talked about how in the Cloud automation is key and of course he is completely right. But this should be common knowledge for everyone attending a Cloud Camp at this point in time. Sadly it isn’t and that is the problem. (Now to make this extra clear this isn’t in any way Chris’ fault.)

Some other things that should be common knowledge but aren’t and therefore needed to be said and repeated include:

In no particular order.

The reason why we are lacking behind and why we won’t catch up is that despite the fact that there where multiple Cloud Camps in Germany already with basically the same people attending every time we still at best repeat the basics over and over again. Now you don’t take leadership in technology by repeating the status quo over and over again do you?

Please don’t take this as an offensive post against any of the speakers, sponsors or organizers (who did a great job) because I thoroughly include myself in the “we” that failed to live up to it’s full potential yesterday. Can’t we do better?

Picture: openDemocracy cc by sa

About Philipp Strube

Philipp Strube ist Gründer und Geschäftsführer von cloudControl. cloudControl entwickelt eine hochverfügbare und skalierbare Cloud Hosting Lösung für moderne Webapplikationen.
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10 Responses to Why Cloud Camp Hamburg sucked – and how this is a good example why we are lacking behind in Europe

  1. Christoph says:

    You are right! We are way behind the U.S. And yes: we should use these kind of events to go ahead and innovate.
    But we (meaning Germany/Europe) are not there yet! It is my opinion that CloudCamps here in Germany (and other events) need to be used to educate people first. And I think that the CloudCamp Hamburg did a good job about educating people about the different aspects of Cloud Computing.

  2. Ulrich says:

    So true. Not only in the cloud but also on the whole European online soil.

  3. Nice post Philipp, but…

    Sam and you should also understand and appreciate that there are vendors and system integrators in this world, for whom Cloud is a nightmare and very disruptive for their business.

    Microsoft? All they have is Windows OS! Their browser is lost, their Office is end-of-life and very well competed, what do they have left? Nothing
    Vendors like SAP, Oracle – they all make a fortune (http://www.martijnlinssen.com/2010/09/from-profitability-to-extortion-it.html) on selling software and license and locking you in like mad – they don’t want Cloud at all! But they need to buy time to make the transition to Cloud, and the only way they can do that is by inventing Private Cloud

    System Integrators? They make all their (little, see post above) money from implementing expensive vendor software, or tailormaking stuff – that isn’t Cloud at all! But they need to buy time to make the transition to Cloud, and the only way they can do that is by inventing Hybrid Cloud

    If Cloud evangelists keep preaching the pure way, we’ll get stuck in a yes-no debate and arguments will lead to battles will lead to wars and it will all be very destructive, not constructive

    The reason that Private and Hybrid Clouds get pushed is the fact that you guys are pushing back so hard on “the true Cloud”. Meanwhile, nothing is moving. All these events are so highly repetitive because people feel threatened and need to repeat their mantras because apparently they don’t stick

    Do you want that? No you don’t, nobody wants that. The faster we can get to the Cloud, the sooner the better

    Let’s move ahead. Stop whining about pure Cloud, and allow for the legacy to do their best to keep up. You can’t expect 95% of the IT industry to just roll over and die, can you now?

  4. Hmm. Well, on the one hand, yes. Clearly. You’re absolutely right.

    But despite that, I feel the need to make two remarks. One, you’re being too hard on Germany (and giving the US too much credit). And two, you’re not being entirely fair to the audience of this kind of event.

    When I say you’re being too hard on Germany, what I mean is this: I’ve been to lots of these kinds of events, all over the world, including the US. They’re all (pretty much) the same. They’re all (pretty much) talking about the same things, and on the same level. You can see some subtle differences at events like Velocity, for example, where the signal-to-noise ratio is higher (and where there are therefore quite different things to argue about ;) ), but not so much as you seem to think. I don’t see the difference between Germany and the UK, or even the US, to be as dramatic as you’re painting it here. Even more subtly, but vastly more significant, I think you’re missing out on an incredibly important role that Germany is (wittingly or not) currently playing on the global “cloud computing” stage — they are the guinea pig, the Versuchskaninchen, for one end of the spectrum of data privacy questions. I assure you — the big multinational companies and the major cloud providers pay close attention to Germany, because it’s where they test the limits of some of their ideas. Is that a thankless job? Yes. Is it unimportant? No. Does it make living within that part of the “laboratory of ideas” unpleasant for people that just want to get on with it? Sure. Does that mean the Americans are right (about any and all data privacy issues) and the Germans are wrong? Dude, hold on — that would be a huge leap, and I certainly am not prepared to make it. Krishnan’s article, which you cite, is based on data about spending — on where the money is flowing. But if every decision we made was based on where the money is flowing to — on what’s popular — then the only music we would have to listen to would be pretty crappy. Oh, wait… ;D

    When I say you’re not being entirely fair to the audience of this kind of event, what I mean is: if we spoke only to the intermediate and expert level, how would the newbies join in? By it’s very nature (no cost to attend, informal, open to questions and interaction), CloudCamp is particularly appealing to newbies — that’s a feature, not a bug. Where else is a newbie going to get an opportunity to have a beer with Sam Johnston? Or any other such guru? But the consequence of giving newbies an opportunity to join in requires one of the things that you’re griping about here: it requires us to spend a lot of time repeating the same messages, over and over again. For the newbies in the audience, it’s often the first time they hear some of those messages.

    Over the years, event managers have tried all kinds of tactics to deal with this problem: pre-planned “tracks”, or identifying talks or sessions as “beginner”, “intermediate” or “advanced”, and so on. All of these tactics have their advantages and disadvantages, and none results in the “perfect event”, in my experience. But most importantly, none of those tactics seems to me to be a good fit for a *Camp style event. If lots of newbies turn up at a *Camp, then it is compelled by the format to be a “*Camp for newbies”. And I was surprised by the high percentage of (relative) newbies in the audience the other night. When I asked about spot pricing, for example, very few hands went up. Ergo..

    Does it get tiring, repeating those same messages? Sure. My father is a school teacher, and those people are generally insane after 20 years or so in the profession, because they’re so bored of repeating the same message, day in and day out. As I was heading out of #cch to have a drink with unnamed associates, we were chatting about how if going to CloudCamps was our day job (instead of a pleasant hobby) we would go insane for precisely this reason. But reaching out to the newbies is important — it’s the only way the message can spread, and realistically, isn’t that the only way to effect the change you’re ultimately pleading for here?

  5. Wow, I’m honestly thrilled about all those interesting comments.

    I am not trying to say there is no need for education and for crap intermediary solutions like private or hybrid. I just don’t know if we have the resources to educate the newbies and innovate on technology at the same time. Catching up isn’t quite good enough. At least not for me.

    I wonder if leaving the education to the big guys and focusing on getting our shit together technology wise first wouldn’t help us more in the long run.

  6. I think there’s a [mis]perception of Europe with respect to “innovation” – the continent has been rather aggressive in pursuing innovation and pushing the envelope in business models, usage models and technologies in various areas, many of which your example region, North America, has been rather slow to adopt or develop. This leads to me question what is meant by “innovation”, especially since I have great difficulty considering much of what is accepted as Cloud in the press as innovative.

    Rather, I see more innovation that is going on behind the scenes in both Europe and the Americas, that is directly enabling and driving Cloud Computing, yet not part fo the generally accepted definition. At the same time, it is precisely nitpicking on time consuming details that is driving not only this innovation, but essentially all of the usage model and technology innovation that has gone on in the 20th century and the new millenium. Is a iPhone really innovative? When you assess it as a whole rather then the sum of its parts, yes. I argue that the iPhone is 20% innovation and 80% evolution.

    Similarly, “cool” Cloud Computing applications with slick interfaces and lightweight SLAs aren’t innovative. That is simply the swan swimming along the river. Rather, it is all the paddling beneath the surface that is innovative – all the pathfinding work that went into the foundations of RIA, that led to HTML5, Native Client Libraries and context-awareness; MapReduce and Hadoop; etc. It took the marriage of vision with the nitpicking on time consuming details to make these a reality, to truly innovate.

    Read more at my blog post here.

  7. Good morning everyone,

    I am not a technical person but I happen to work in the supercomputing industry.

    Mr. Strube – your comment “Now all the events, I visited all across Germany and Europe, reduced themselves to an event trying to sell inferior products instead of cooperating, discussing and innovating on the topic.” caught my eyes and I thought of letting you know about our Cloud Conference which focuses on “processing massive data and running large application simulations in the Cloud.”

    Please visit our program, look at our speakers and tell me what you think about it.

    The reason why we are organizing “another” cloud conference is to fill in the “lacuna” you mentioned, namely to bring researchers and industry experts to share their hands-on experiences with attendees.
    Therefore, your opinion interests me quite a bit :)

    Your sincerely,

    Nages Sieslack

  8. I appreciate your comment though I am afraid your conference from what I can tell doesn’t look like it’s gonna be any different. Already in your program you have at least three talks about “clouds” note plural. You have a track about “public, pricate and hybrid clouds” with exactly the people one it that I see as the problem hindering cloud innovation in Europe. The old IT guys afraid about their valuable profits from the old days that Martijn described. E.g. Oracle who try to sell 1.000.000 dollard hardware cloud in a box. WTF?

    Now as I said I don’t blame anyone for doing whats best for his business. But don’t expect me to a) not do the same and b) not give you my honest opinion when you ask for it.

    Feel free to prove me wrong though. I’d be thrilled to be wrong on my prediction for your conference. Honestly.

  9. Wolfgang Gentzsch says:


    thanks for sharing your experience on cloud conferences in Europe and in the US. Although I fully agree with your observation in general (Europe lagging behind, most conferences are dealing with basic wisdom, etc), my personal observation is that even in the US many cloud events are still of this kind. Reason imho is that now (finally) the big vendors and the big conference organizers have discovered for them the topic as a new business and money maker, and most of them organize their own (or supported others) events, and they basically start from scratch.

    Now, there are indeed a few cloud event which are more focussed, e.g. on open source cloud technologies, or to specific application areas, or to certain cloud products, and the good news is most of them I visited (or participated in their webcasts) provide(d) concrete and hands-on guidance. A conference along this line is ISC Cloud’10 (mentioned by Nages above) which focusses completely on compute and data intensive HPC (as in Amazon’s new Cluster Compute Instances), with speakers who all have real hands-on experience with clouds, many of then, yes, from the US, and supported by real application use cases. And I hope we will se more of these conferences, where participants share experience, gain concrete insight, get recommendations and lessons learned.

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