Raffi Krikorian Speaker At Structure

DNC Tech Chief Raffi Krikorian Talks Bridging The Silicon Valley, Politics Gap

Raffi Krikorian is speaking at Newsweek Media Group's Cloud Infrastructure Intelligence Structure conference Nov. 14-15 in San Francisco.

The Democratic National Committee’s chief technology officer, Raffi Krikorian, says that changes within the post-2016 political party are as much about the culture as they are about security.

The MIT grad’s time is physically split between his Silicon Valley home and Washington D.C., although he’s looking to bridge the cultural gap between tech and politics. Krikorian previously led Uber’s Advanced Technologies Center, where he was tasked with putting the ride-sharing company’s self-driving cars on the streets of Pittsburgh, Pa. And preceding that, Krikorian was Twitter’s vice president of engineering after successfully managing the social media giant’s application programming interface. Read more

Joyent’s Bryan Cantrill on technology, fear, and the rise of Trump

Joyent CTO Bryan Cantrill has been a welcome presence at Structure events in the past due to his high-energy takes on the state of our technology world. But after the United States elected Donald Trump as president last night, he hastily rewrote his talk to address the impact that cloud computing — and technology in general — is having on the economic challenges that so many people in this country face.

There’s no real way to sum up a Bryan Cantrill keynote: you simply have to watch it in the video embed below (apologies for the low bit-rate version, we wanted to get it up quickly). You can follow along with his slides here. It’s a powerful indictment of the priorities that govern product development in the tech industry, and we’re proud that we were able to showcase it Wednesday at Structure 2016.

Bryan Cantrill Structure 2016 from Structure on Vimeo.

Structure Rewind: Joyent, now a part of Samsung, tells its cloud story

Now Samsung has a reason to come to Structure 2016: last night it acquired Joyent, developers of node.js and a pioneer of many cloud computing technologies.

Joyent was one of the original cloud computing forces, betting early on the promise of distributing computing. It never quite reached the scale of companies like Amazon Web Services or Microsoft Azure, which Joyent CEO Scott Hammond promised Thursday the Samsung acquisition would allow it to pursue. But it developed several important technologies along the way, including Node.js, which is now widely used in app development.

Bryan Cantrill, CTO, Joyent Structure 2015 (Phillip Van Nostrand/Structure)

Bryan Cantrill, CTO, Joyent Structure 2015 (Phillip Van Nostrand/Structure)

The company also has a rich history with Structure, with founder and former CTO Jason Hoffman appearing at many conferences over the years to display his trademark wit and deep insights into the future of cloud computing. Current CTO Bryan Cantrill delivers all of that and more at light speed.

I picked out a few videos from our archives to commemorate the deal: the first one features Jason Hoffman at Structure 2011 talking about the growth of node.js, as interviewed on the sidelines by Stacey Higginbotham, now host of The IoT Podcast.

GigaOM Structure 2011_ Jason Hoffman, Joyent from Structure on Vimeo.

The second is the tour-de-force that was Bryan Cantrill’s talk at Structure 2015 (pictured above), which reviewed the past and future of containers in a very entertaining and informative talk that, if you listen closely, lays the groundwork for the Samsung deal.

Run 'Naked' and Save the Whales: Why It's (Past) Time to Run Containers on Bare Metal from Structure on Vimeo.

Bryan will be back with us for Structure 2016, and we’ll definitely have a lot to talk about as Samsung and Joyent start the integration process this summer. We’ll release more details soon on the plans for Structure 2016, so stay tuned.

The Structure Show: Selling the cloud, Twitter reboots product (again), and AI washing becomes a thing

On this week’s episode of the Structure Show, Derrick Harris of Mesosphere joins me to talk about Microsoft’s growing pains in the cloud, the revolving door that is the product development leadership position at Twitter, and why even as companies like Facebook release true AI-driven breakthroughs like Deep Text, the temptation to slap the “AI” buzzword into marketing copy is growing stronger by the week.

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The Structure Show: AWS earnings, meet Dell Technologies, and OpenAI opens for business

This week, Barb Darrow of Fortune and I talk about the first-quarter performance of Amazon Web Services, the bellweather cloud company that might just be a standard by which to measure the health of the tech industry in general. We’ll also check in on the progress of the world’s biggest merger ever, should it actually happen, and look at the first release from OpenAI, the joint project from Elon Musk and Sam Altman that is trying to compete with the big AI corporate research groups as a mom-and-pop outfit, although those are two very rich parents.

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The Structure Show: IBM’s slow decline, Mesosphere’s open-source future, Magic Leap’s promise

On this week’s episode of The Structure Show, Stacey Higginbotham and I talk about yet another quarter of declining revenue at IBM, Mesosphere’s move to open-source its most fundamental product, and a mysterious company that claims it’s pushing the boundaries of virtual reality with fundamental research into sensors, image processing, and materials science.

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The Structure Show: SecureWorks goes public, Box goes overseas, Facebook goes bot-crazy

On this week’s episode of the Structure Show, Barb Darrow of Fortune and I talk about the inevitability of the Dell-EMC deal as SecureWorks goes public, Box’s dilemma in expanding overseas without cash for data centers, and Facebook’s AI-related pitch to developers at F8.

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The Structure Show: The rise of the bots?

On this long-delayed but back-in-business edition of the Structure Show, Stacey Higginbotham and I talk about Microsoft’s 180-degree turn on open-source software over the last few years, whether or not new leadership can help Intel fix big problems in its PC and internet of things groups, and the rise of the bots: are bots really the future of cloud services, or just Clippy 2.0?

Remember, if you’re interested in more Structure content, sign up for our weekly newsletter here and if you’re interested in more from Stacey, you can sign up for her newsletter here.

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Why Wal-Mart decided to open-source its devops secret sauce

As one of the largest retailers in the world, Wal-Mart requires a tremendous amount of internal technology to run its offline and online stores. One of the keys to its technology strategy is OneOps, which Walmart Labs CTO Jeremy King detailed at Structure 2015.

(L to R): Jonathan Vanian, Fortune; Jeremy King, CTO, Head of Walmart Labs Structure 2015 (Phillip Van Nostrand/Structure)

(L to R): Jonathan Vanian, Fortune; Jeremy King, CTO, Head of Walmart Labs Structure 2015 (Phillip Van Nostrand/Structure)

OneOps, which was built off the work by a startup of the same name that Wal-Mart acquired three years ago, gives developers a tool for managing the infrastructure best suited for their apps, King said. “It allows developers to manage their own system but make a determination of where they want to run (their apps),” he said. That includes internal Wal-Mart private clouds or one of the public clouds that Wal-Mart maintains.

As is customary these days in enterprise tech, Walmart Labs decided to open source this technology and it should be available to external parties very soon, King said.

Check out a video embed of the session below, and check out our event coverage page for more from Structure 2015.

Open Sourcing the Cloud from Structure on Vimeo.

Even in the age of the cloud, the datacenter is alive and well

Somehow it seems right that we wound up a cloud conference with a panel on datacenters: despite all the movement in our industry to cloud services, there is still a vibrant market for datacenter operators.

(L to R): Dave O'Hara, founder, GreenM3; Tamara Budec, VP design and construction, Digital Reality; Bill Dougherty, SVP and CTO, Raging Wire Structure 2014 (Phillip Van Nostrand/Structure)

(L to R): Dave O’Hara, founder, GreenM3; Tamara Budec, VP design and construction, Digital Reality; Bill Dougherty, SVP and CTO, Raging Wire Structure 2014 (Phillip Van Nostrand/Structure)

“People think of a datacenter as an API,” said Bill Dougherty, senior vice president and CTO of Raging Wire. But it’s obviously not quite that simple: “a datacenter is a 20-year building. If you under-build it or over-build it, you have problems,” he said.

Serving these customers, who still need physical infrastructure to run older applications that are serviceable but not worth porting to the cloud, is tricky, said Tamara Budec, vice president of design and construction at Digital Reality. “You can’t even speak of capacity planning. It’s all dynamic.”

Check out a video embed of the session below, and check out our event coverage page for more from Structure 2015.

The Future of the Data Center from Structure on Vimeo.

How Docker made the container user friendly

Coming off a breakout year for Docker, Marianna Tessel thinks that the company’s success is due to its ability to take a technology that was familiar to many in enterprise computing and make it user friendly.

Marianna Tessel, SVP of Engineering, Docker Structure 2015 (Phillip Van Nostrand/Structure)

Marianna Tessel, SVP of Engineering, Docker Structure 2015 (Phillip Van Nostrand/Structure)

“There were clouds that were running with containers, but it wasn’t useful for everyone else,” said Tessel, senior vice president of engineering for Docker, at Structure 2015. “We made it accessible.”

Tessel held forth on several topics related to the modern enterprise computing environment, including DevOps, clustering, and whether or not everything needs to be containerized (spoiler alert: she’s big on containers). An awful lot of Structure 2015 attendees expressed interest in containers as a hedge against cloud lock-in, and Tessel promised Docker would live up to that promise. “In order to move things around you need to have a unit you can move around that everybody understands,” she said. “Docker provides you with this unit.

Check out a video embed of the session below, and check out our event coverage page for more from Structure 2015.

How Does Your Container Strategy Help You? from Structure on Vimeo.

Panel: Watch your cloud costs carefully

Now that cloud computing is the new infrastructure computing plan, pricing is one of the most important and poorly understood variables in the cloud world. Fortunately, at Structure 2015, we convened a panel of experts that have a pretty good idea how companies can understand and plan their cloud computing spending.

(L to R): Jonathan Atkin, Managing Director, RBC Capital Markets; J.R. Storment, co-founder and CCO, Cloudability; Rodrigo Flores, Managing Director, Accenture; Stephanie Tayengco, SVP of Operations, Logicworks Structure 2015 (Phillip Van Nostrand/Structure)

(L to R): Jonathan Atkin, Managing Director, RBC Capital Markets; J.R. Storment, co-founder and CCO, Cloudability; Rodrigo Flores, Managing Director, Accenture; Stephanie Tayengco, SVP of Operations, Logicworks Structure 2015 (Phillip Van Nostrand/Structure)

For most companies that are new to the cloud, “getting rid of surprises” is a big factor, said J.R. Storment, co-founder and CCO of Cloudability. The notion of “rogue IT” with respect to cloud services in the enterprise has been something we’ve been tracking for a while, and one of the first duties of a CIO tasked with getting on top of cloud costs is to figure out where that money is flowing.

And once you’ve figured that out, there’s a simple question: do you need to change the way you’re doing business? Stephanie Tayengco, senior vice president of operations at Logicworks, noted that any enterprise shifting from on-premises IT to cloud-based IT needs to rethink the models they use to evaluable cost-of-ownership models in tandem.

Check out a video embed of the session below, and check out our event coverage roundup page for more from Structure 2015.

Cloud Usage Trends and Pricing from Structure on Vimeo.

20 minutes on the hot seat: Structure panel tackles the big questions

One of my favorite panels at Structure 2015 was probably the punchiest one: the one in which four tech industry veterans held forth on some of the most discussed issues in enterprise technology over the past year.

(L to R): Jerry Chen, Partner, Greylock Partners; Luke Kanies, CEO, Puppet Labs; Bob Muglia, CEO, Snowflake Computing; Jay Rossiter, SVP Product and Engineering, Yahoo Structure 2015 (Phillip Van Nostrand/Structure)

(L to R): Jerry Chen, Partner, Greylock Partners; Luke Kanies, CEO, Puppet Labs; Bob Muglia, CEO, Snowflake Computing; Jay Rossiter, SVP Product and Engineering, Yahoo Structure 2015 (Phillip Van Nostrand/Structure)

Moderated by Jerry Chen of Greylock Partners, the three panelists — Luke Kaines, CEO of Puppet Labs, Bob Muglia, CEO of Snowflake Computing, and Jay Rossiter, senior vice president of product and engineering at Yahoo — discussed the Dell EMC merger, containers, and the hiring of Diane Greene to jump-start Google’s cloud business. It’s a can’t-miss discussion, and I won’t spoil it further.

Check out a video embed of the session below, and check out our event coverage page for more from Structure 2015.

New Technologies: Hot or Not? from Structure on Vimeo.

Mark Shuttleworth’s new tools for a new era of software

Software may be eating the world, but the digestion system needed to accommodate that appetite is still very much in flux, according to Mark Shuttleworth, founder of Canonical and Structure 2015 speaker.

Mark Shuttleworth, founder and chairman, Canonical Structure 2015 (Phillip Van Nostrand/Structure)

Mark Shuttleworth, founder and chairman, Canonical Structure 2015 (Phillip Van Nostrand/Structure)

The runaway growth of cloud and mobile computing has ushered in a “phase change,” for software, Shuttleworth said. Think of it like water: water can be ice, steam, or liquid, and depending on which phase it’s in requires very different handling and packaging requirements.

“It used to be that apps were understandable, today they are sprawling,” he said. In this world, infrastructure is the “mapping” of this world, and Shuttleworth argued that new tools are needed to manage the complexity of this mapping operation.

Check out a video embed of the session below, and check out our event coverage roundup page for more from Structure 2015.

The Future is Charmed: New Approaches to Cloud Management from Structure on Vimeo.

How GE found public cloud religion and closed its datacenters

When you’re a company as big as GE, finding more efficient ways to deploy applications can make a huge difference. Chris Drumgoole of GE has found that a wholesale embrace of the public cloud can make an even bigger difference.

Chris Drumgoole, COO Global Operations CoreTech, GE Corporate Structure 2015 (Phillip Van Nostrand/Structure)

Chris Drumgoole, COO Global Operations CoreTech, GE Corporate Structure 2015 (Phillip Van Nostrand/Structure)

GE had over 30 datacenters just a few years ago, but it is hoping to get that number down into the single digits very soon, Drumgoole told attendees at Structure 2015. As we noted earlier this year, GE basically told its developers that any new applications would have to be deployed on public clouds, and it has been going through everything else in its arsenal with a fine-toothed comb in order to see which apps are appropriate for public clouds.

“We went to the people with the apps and we said, ‘how do you want to move this?'” Drumgoole said. It wasn’t really a question; more a cultural shift that GE had to enforce in order to make this transition, and once developers realized that their apps would run just as well on public clouds, they bought in, he said.

Check out a video embed of the session below, and check out our event coverage page for more from Structure 2015.

Why GE is Committed to Public Clouds from Structure on Vimeo.

The state of the enterprise startup market in 2015

The enterprise software startup market is quite different from the social media or gaming app startup market, according to a panel of venture capitalists speaking at Structure 2015: the exits are smaller and the founders are more trigger-happy because of the risk that big enterprise players could crush a fledgling company.

(L to R): Jason Hoffman, Industrialist, Technology and Operating Executive, Ericsson; Charles Beeler, General Partner, Rally Ventures; Rachel Chalmers, Principal, Ignition Partners; Steve Herrod, Managing Director, General Catalyst Structure 2015 (Phillip Van Nostrand/Structure)

(L to R): Jason Hoffman, Industrialist, Technology and Operating Executive, Ericsson; Charles Beeler, General Partner, Rally Ventures; Rachel Chalmers, Principal, Ignition Partners; Steve Herrod, Managing Director, General Catalyst Structure 2015 (Phillip Van Nostrand/Structure)

Steve Herrod of General Catalyst, Rachel Chalmers of Ignition Partners, and Charles Beeler of Rally Ventures held forth on the state of the enterprise startup, which has changed quite a bit with the rise of the cloud. The primary expense behind such a company used to be equipment, while now it’s people, and that means funding rounds are smaller and guiding voices from experienced hands are more valuable to founders.

However, that also means that a lot of enterprise startups find it hard to resist cashing out when a larger company shows interest, which hurts the venture capitalist’s potential return, said Chalmers. “If you don’t want to spend 10 years building the startup and are happy to take the $30 million … then maybe don’t take venture capital,” she said, as reported by Fortune.

Check out a video embed of the session below, and check out our event coverage page for more from Structure 2015.

What Savvy Investors Are Betting On in the Cloud from Structure on Vimeo.

At Disney, the DevOps movement awakens

Perhaps the best pop culture tie-in we witnessed at Structure 2015 came courtesy of Jeff Wile, VP of hosting and engineering services at Disney, who came equipped with a trailer of the upcoming Star Wars: The Force Awakens movie set to a devops theme.

Jeff Wile, VP of hosting and engineering, Disney, Structure 2015 (Phillip Van Nostrand/Structure)

Jeff Wile, VP of hosting and engineering, Disney, Structure 2015 (Phillip Van Nostrand/Structure)

A long time ago in an IT organization far far away, Wile and his Disney counterparts realized that their far-flung development infrastructure — which was responsible for Disney properties ranging from films to ESPN — was woefully behind the times when it came to its development infrastructure. “We were an operations team: we had all of the silos that everybody had back in the day, dev teams throwing stuff over the wall,” he said.

How did Disney start to change that? The organization had to throw itself behind “the idea and mindset of continuous improvement,” Wile said. Operations people learned to code, while developers learned how to provision infrastructure. “It was fascinating to see once the lightbulb sort of clicked. It went from, ‘hey, this sucks’ to ‘hey, we can fix our own problems and solve these challenges.'”

Check out a video embed of the session below (complete with mock devops “The Force Awakens” trailer), and check out our event coverage page for more from Structure 2015.

How Disney brought DevOps magic to its kingdom from Structure on Vimeo.

RingCentral’s Shmunis: Cloud-based voice apps have to “just work”

One of the earliest successes in convincing enterprises to adopt cloud services came from a technology they loved to hate: their PBX telecom infrastructure. Vlad Shmunis of Ringcentral has enjoyed the fruits of that disdain for the old-school telecommunications wired network, but there’s one hurdle involved in cloud voice communications that other cloud services don’t necessarily have to sweat.

Vlad Shmunis, CEO, RingCentral Structure 2015 (Phillip Van Nostrand/Structure)

Vlad Shmunis, CEO, RingCentral Structure 2015 (Phillip Van Nostrand/Structure)

“People expect business communications systems to just work, no questions asked,” Shmunis said at Structure 2015. While you might put up with a business app that lags a bit as it processes your request across a network, if your make-or-break-the-quarter sales call drops, it’s a different story.

That means Ringcentral is very focused on reliability and clarity when it comes to its cloud-based voice applications, he said. But voice alone doesn’t cut it inside the modern enterprise: “larger enterprises very much expect to have a fully integrated solution with a user friendly interface,” he said.

Check out a video embed of the solution below, and check out our event coverage page for more from Structure 2015.

Hard Facts on Connected Business in the Cloud from Structure on Vimeo.

MongoDB CEO Ittycheria thinks we’ve seen the last of the commercial database companies

Will the world ever see another commercial database provider along the lines of Oracle? MongoDB’s Dev Ittycheria is betting that we won’t.

(L to R): Derrick Harris, Mesosphere; Dev Ittycheria, CEO, MongoDB Structure 2015 (Phillip Van Nostrand/Structure)

(L to R): Derrick Harris, Mesosphere; Dev Ittycheria, CEO, MongoDB Structure 2015 (Phillip Van Nostrand/Structure)

As one of the world’s leading open-source database providers, Ittycheria, CEO of the seven-year-old NoSQL database company, obviously has something vested in that outcome. But the cloud and devops mindsets so prevalent in this decade has shifted the economics of how infrastructure software like databases are purchased and deployed.

“The developer has truly becoming the kingmaker in terms of how decisions and technology gets adopted in the enterprise,” he said. “I believe there will never again be a net-new commercial database provider in the market. It’s too hard to get mindshare among developers, and the open-source alternatives are too good.

Of course, while the market for open-source databases like MongoDBs may be growing, infrastructure software is something that a lot of companies find hard to rip out and start over, as opposed to what they use for application development, Ittycheria said. So Oracle isn’t going anywhere just yet. But he compared the future of the database market to that of the mainframe market: a few big legacy vendors will survive but the main action will be elsewhere.

Check out a video embed of the session below, and check out our event coverage page for more from Structure 2015.

The Future of the Data Driven Enterprise from Structure on Vimeo.

In just five years, Instagram has seen a lot of infrastructure shifts

As demand for Instagram’s unique photo-sharing service skyrocketed a few years ago, the company realized it could no longer afford to take four days to set up a new server. That pushed it to the cloud, said Instagram co-founder Mike Krieger at Structure 2015, and the rest is history.

(L to R): Janko Roettgers, Variety; Mike Krieger, co-founder and CTO, Instagram

(L to R): Janko Roettgers, Variety; Mike Krieger, co-founder and CTO, Instagram

Instagram has gone through three different styles of infrastructure in just five years, Krieger told attendees. As reported by Fortune, Instagram used to run its service on just a single server, adding as needed, until the point where it realized it had to go all-in with Amazon Web Services, which even just four years ago was still a risky transition. Then, following Facebook’s acquisition of the company, Facebook’s engineers gently prodded Instagram to embrace its in-house infrastructure, which took some time to complete but made the service much more efficient in the end, he said.

A fourth version might be looming: as reported by Variety, Instagram is also looking into the virtual reality technology of its corporate sibling Oculus for a future product. Maybe at Structure 2016 we’ll be talking about the unique and growing challenges placed on infrastructure by virtual reality.

Check out a video embed of the session below, and check out our event coverage page for more from Structure 2015.

Five Years of Instagram: What's Next? from Structure on Vimeo.

Bryan Cantrill’s wild ride through the history of the container

Joyent’s Bryan Cantrill woke up the second day of Structure 2015 with an energetic presentation that involved references to containers, hallucinogenic drugs, and quite a few things in between. It was one of those presentations that has to be watched rather than described, so check out the video below, and check out our event coverage page for more from Structure 2015.

Run 'Naked' and Save the Whales: Why It's (Past) Time to Run Containers on Bare Metal from Structure on Vimeo.

One of the best arguments for the cloud? Scaling is easy

Any good internet company worries about scaling: the ability to accommodate growing amounts of new users to your site or service should you hit the product development jackpot. Luckily for companies coming of age in the cloud era, this is much, much easier than it used to be.

(L to R): Derrick Harris, Mesosphere; David Clarke, SVP Technology Development, Workday Structure 2015 (Phillip Van Nostrand/Structure)

(L to R): Derrick Harris, Mesosphere; David Clarke, SVP Technology Development, Workday Structure 2015 (Phillip Van Nostrand/Structure)

Workday, which provides HR and other business-related services to its customers, has been able to scale nicely over its nine-year history because of its reliance on cloud services, said David Clarke of Workday at Structure 2015. Using cloud services allows companies to upgrade their infrastructure as new technologies are developed, rather than buying one generation’s hardware only to find that hardware quite outdated in just a few years.

It has also been easy for a company like Workday to scale because of the horrible enterprise applications that predated it. “One of the interesting things about enterprise applications is that when you go out to talk to users, particularly of the prior generation, people absolutely hate using them,” he said. “It’s a good place to start to get people to use your service if they actually detest the experience they have at the moment.

But that means you have to make sure you choose a cloud vendor that can keep up with demand, and make sure you hold their feet to the fire when your user base starts to grow, he said.

Check out a video embed of the session below, and check out our event coverage roundup page for more from Structure 2015.

Responsible For Your Company's Cloud Apps? Make Sure Your Vendor Can Scale from Structure on Vimeo.

Panel: Europe’s new data transfer laws could restrain cloud startups

Europe’s recent decision to overturn the safe harbor data laws that made it possible for U.S. tech companies to do business in Europe won’t have much of an effect on big tech companies, but will likely hurt innovation by making it much harder for smaller companies to expand into Europe, according to a panel discussion at Structure 2015.

(L to R): Barb Darrow, Fortune; Paula Long, CEO, DataGravity; David Mytton, CEO, Server Density; Ellen Rubin, CEO, ClearSky Data Structure 2015 (Phillip Van Nostrand/Structure)

(L to R): Barb Darrow, Fortune; Paula Long, CEO, DataGravity; David Mytton, CEO, Server Density; Ellen Rubin, CEO, ClearSky Data Structure 2015 (Phillip Van Nostrand/Structure)

“A bunch of young companies are going to have to grow up faster,” said Paula Long, CEO of Data Gravity. They’re going to have to rely on bigger companies — which have built the proper contractual clauses into their customer agreements — in order to reach customers in Europe, noted fellow panelist David Mytton, CEO of Server Density. In October, a European court struck down a law that had governed data transfers between the U.S. and Europe, and although the European Union hopes to have a new agreement in place by January, that move has made for some uncertain times.

This security and privacy issue has dogged U.S. tech companies operating in Europe ever since the extent of U.S. internet surveillance was brought to light in 2013 by Edward Snowden, said Ellen Rubin, CEO of ClearSky Data. She has fielded calls from European customers concerned about their data leaving Germany, and U.S. customers worried about their data winding up in China, and while it’s a bit more complicated than that in practice, it’s still a big issue, she said.

A video embed of the session follows below, and check out our event coverage roundup page for more from Structure 2015.

Everything You Need to Know About Data Security from Structure on Vimeo.

If you’re worried about cloud lock-in, Mesosphere claims it can help

An ongoing theme of Structure 2015 centered around “lock-in,” that delightful classic business practice in which software companies or service providers bait the hook with a compelling product but make it really, really hard to move away from that product or service should your circumstances change. One hope is that the rise of containers in application development can help companies move their workloads around to different providers as needed, and container-management vendor Mesophere thinks this approach will prevail.

Mesosphere CEO Florian Liebert, Structure 2015 (Phillip Van Nostrand/Structure)

Mesosphere CEO Florian Liebert, Structure 2015 (Phillip Van Nostrand/Structure)

Whenever you make a decision to write an application against a particular cloud service provider’s API, you’re basically locked into that API, said Florian Liebert, CEO of Mesosphere, at Structure 2015. “It makes it really hard to be innovative when you’re locked into something,” he said. The idea behind Mesosphere is that it can abstract those different APIs when you develop your apps through its system, meaning that you can launch apps across different cloud providers or in your own datacenters.

But, as one attendee asked Liebert, do such abstractions become limitations? And aren’t people locking themselves into cloud kingpin Amazon Web Services quite happily, given its lead among public cloud providers in terms of the services it offers? Liebert conceded the point that AWS is (for now) a happy place to be for a lot of customers, but predicted that its lead would erode over time. “AWS doesn’t have a monopoly on innovation, the open source community has that monopoly.”

A video embed of the session follows below, and check out our event coverage roundup page for more from Structure 2015.

How to Achieve True Portability Between Clouds and Private Data Centers from Structure on Vimeo.

Beware the rise of “hybrid washing,” warns Virtustream CEO

One thing we definitely noticed at Structure 2015 was the cooling of the rhetoric around public clouds and private clouds, which seems to suit everyone just fine. But over the next couple of years, we’ll have to watch out for vendors eager to apply the term “hybrid” to nearly everything, according to Virtustream CEO Rodney Rogers.

(L to R): Derrick Harris, Mesosphere; Rodney Rodgers, CEO, Virtustream (Phillip Van Nostrand/Structure)

(L to R): Derrick Harris, Mesosphere; Rodney Rodgers, CEO, Virtustream (Phillip Van Nostrand/Structure)

“Hybrid washing is the new cloud washing,” Rodgers declared, and he’s probably right: if there’s one thing enterprise marketing people love, it’s taking a term that resonates and beating it into the ground. At the same time, Rodgers said his company was applying hybrid principles — the notion of helping customers run workloads in either public clouds or on their own hardware, depending on what makes the most sense — before it was cool.

So while the religious wars of public clouds versus private clouds have waned, and while the hype may have now transferred to the hybrid approach, there is still a big role for companies like Virtustream — part of the sprawling EMC federation, and perhaps soon Dell — to play in helping customers decide where their workloads can be most effective: surprisingly few people are taking a data-driven approach to that decision, he said.

Check out a video embed of the session below, and check out our event coverage page for more from Structure 2015.

Cloud Consolidation: A View From the Inside from Structure on Vimeo.

SAP’s Clark: Latency is the new bandwidth

Structure has always been an event that tackles the most important questions in the development of physical infrastructure, despite spending so much time evangelizing the healing powers of dumping your infrastructure. But just because you’ve decided to rent instead of buy doesn’t mean you should ignore how changes in the demands our applications make on hardware require different ways of thinking about infrastructure.

SAP CTO Quentin Clark, Structure 2015 (Phillip Van Nostrand/Structure)

SAP CTO Quentin Clark, Structure 2015 (Phillip Van Nostrand/Structure)

SAP Chief Technical Officer Quentin Clark thinks about these problems constantly, and he joined us on stage at Structure 2015 to discuss an important factor in app performance: latency. As the internet grew, infrastructure providers mostly focused on scale — or bandwidth — but a maturing internet now demands speed — or latency — in equal proportion. “The analogy is how quickly you can get at something (latency) versus how much you can carry (bandwidth),” he said.

Delays of 250 milliseconds, which sound imperceptible, actually have a huge impact on how you perceive application performance, especially in areas like online gaming, Clark said. While enterprise customers might not feel all that bad if their procrastinating employees see a little lag on their gaming activity, they might look at the examples provided by high-speed financial traders, to whom milliseconds can cost mega dollars.

Check out a video embed of the session below, and check out our event coverage page for more from Structure 2015.

Tackling Latency from Structure on Vimeo.

Microsoft’s Sirosh: mass production is coming to machine learning

Right now, the field of machine learning and artificial intelligence is still quite new, although more established than you might think. But for this movement to really get going, app developers who aren’t data scientists on the side will need to be able to tap into this power quickly and easily, said Joseph Sirosh, corporate vice president for Microsoft’s Data group, at Structure 2015.

(L to R): Derrick Harris, Mesosphere; Joseph Sirosh, corporate vice president, information management and machine learning, Microsoft Structure 2015 (Phillip Van Nostrand/Structure)

(L to R): Derrick Harris, Mesosphere; Joseph Sirosh, corporate vice president, information management and machine learning, Microsoft Structure 2015 (Phillip Van Nostrand/Structure)

As reported by IDG News Service, Sirosh outlined a world in which developers could use APIs for machine learning in their apps just as they use other APIs. “In the future, there will be a large, enormous selection of finished, intelligent APIs in the cloud,” he said.

A lot of things need to fall into place in order for that to happen, not the least of which is simplifying machine learning processes into an easily downloadable format. There is not currently an app for that. However, the potential is exciting because it could allow developers to create products and services that we can’t even envision yet.

Check out a video embed of the session below and check out our event coverage page for more from Structure 2015.

Future of Analytics from Structure on Vimeo.

Google’s Eric Brewer and CoreOS’s Alex Polvi plot the future of containers

One of the over-arching themes of Structure 2015 was the adoption of container technology in application development; Structure veteran Adrian Cockcroft actually updated his “state of the cloud” presentation to include “and the state of the container ecosystem.” Google’s Eric Brewer and CoreOS CEO Alex Polvi held forth on the much-hyped technology, which even if it’s something that has been around for a while is clearly hitting its stride in 2015 for a variety of reasons.

(L to R): Eric Brewer, VP Infrastructure, Google; Alex Polvi, CEO, CoreOS Structure 2015 (Phillip Van Nostrand/Structure)

(L to R): Eric Brewer, VP Infrastructure, Google; Alex Polvi, CEO, CoreOS Structure 2015 (Phillip Van Nostrand/Structure)

Brewer, who is in charge of Google’ Kubernetes container-management project, thinks containers have finally hit the mainstream because they offer “an application-level view of an application compared to a machine-level view of an application.” As groundbreaking as they were back in the day, virtual machines still forced you to think about hardware resources, but containers take that away. “Containers enable more magic.”

Polvi compared containers to the iPhone; no, people aren’t going to be lining up around the block for Docker’s next release, but the iPhone enabled all kinds of services and businesses that we could never have anticipated before its release. Container technology does the same thing for infrastructure planning and “squeezes every bit of utilization out of the apps.”

Brewer and Polvi touched on a lot more topics attached to containers, including the hope that container technology will be the answer to the growing worries about cloud vendor lock-in. Check out the video embed below, and check out our event coverage page for more from Structure 2015.

The Future of Containers, Clustering and Distributed Systems from Structure on Vimeo.

Apcera’s Derek Collison on bubbles, development cycles, and standards bodies

Throughout his time in tech, Apcera founder Derek Collison has realized one very simple truth: “software is never going to be simpler than it is right now.” Our relentless march forward has created immense opportunities for businesses and regular people, but sometimes it can be a bit much to digest.

Derek Collison, Apcera, Structure 2015 (Phillip Van Nostrand/Structure)

Derek Collison, Apcera, Structure 2015 (Phillip Van Nostrand/Structure)

Collison held forth on several topics during his appearance at Structure 2015, from the pace of IT innovation outside the Valley to the historic role of standards bodies in advancing technology (or not).

— On life outside the Valley: “Silicon Valley is very much a bubble,” he said, not referring to the state of investment in technology (which might be true either way) but the groupthink and idealism that developers and infrastructure folks at companies outside the tech industry don’t necessarily share. While “there is this notion of innovate or die” at those companies, they’re more pragmatic in how they approach those goals and often seek a blend of existing tech and newer stuff.

— On automation: “Our technology cycles are shortening,” he said. This means that the time between launching a product or application and the feedback received is shrinking to the point where humans can’t keep up with the onslaught of actionable data. We’ll need to outsource some of that processing to the development platforms we use to create these products, he said.

— On standards bodies: “Either you have a ten-headed thing that has no actual direction, or everything grinds to a halt on, do we want a CLA, what do we do on IP…” he said. Collison is like a lot of tech industry folks in that he understands the need for tech standards but has been through so many poorly functioning standards processes to the point of frustration with the brakes on innovation those processes often create. It’s rough, but at least “the ecosystem is still trying; people are learning from the challenges that came before them,” he said.

Check out the video embed of the session below and check out our event coverage page for more from Structure 2015.

Bridging the IT Innovation Gap from Structure on Vimeo.

At Pinterest, being cloud native is in everyone’s interest

Many of our Structure attendees come to Structure to learn how to transition their legacy IT infrastructure to cloud-computing services. They can learn an awful lot from people like Pinterest’s Raj Patel, who is responsible for building and maintaining all of Pinterest’s infrastructure needs without a server to call his own.

(L to R): Tom Krazit, Structure; Raj Patel, Head of Cloud Engineering, Pinterest Structure 2015 (Phillip Van Nostrand/Structure)

(L to R): Tom Krazit, Structure; Raj Patel, Head of Cloud Engineering, Pinterest Structure 2015 (Phillip Van Nostrand/Structure)

Patel, who I interviewed at Structure 2015, practices an IT religion known (half-jokingly) as “infrastructure buddhism.” The idea being that “if you’re able to divest yourself from physical infrastructure, you wind up heightening your other senses.” While enlightenment probably won’t be found at the bottom of an API, Patel’s philosophy at Pinterest ensures that the company’s engineers build resilient apps that aren’t dependent on hardware to bail them out if they get in trouble.

However, when you’re running a consumer web site that depends on active users for revenue (and with compute needs that doubled year-over-year), site reliability is extremely important. Patel walked us through how Pinterest ensure its site is as available as possible, with a “hub and spoke” model of engineers dedicated to making sure the site stays up.

Check out a video embed of the session below, and check out our event coverage page for more from Structure 2015.

Why Everyone at Pinterest is Responsible for Site Reliability from Structure on Vimeo.

Adrian Cockcroft lays out the state of the cloud and containers

There’s little doubt that the shift to cloud computing is one of the most significant revolutions in enterprise computing history. But those types of shifts are often accompanied by an amazing amount of hype, confusion, and genuine breakthroughs, which is why it’s so great that Battery Ventures’ Adrian Cockcroft is around to set everyone straight on the progress of this industry.

Adrian Cockcroft, Battery Ventures, Structure 2015 (Phillip Van Nostrand/Structure)

Adrian Cockcroft, Battery Ventures, Structure 2015 (Phillip Van Nostrand/Structure)

Cockcroft’s presentation at Structure 2015 — which hopefully turns into an annual event — prepared everyone for two days of discussion at the show by sketching out the current state of this industry. In the public cloud, it’s still an Amazon world: even though Microsoft under CEO Satya Nadella is focusing Microsoft on the public cloud and open-source software, Amazon’s revenue growth is still outpacing the rest of this world, Cockcroft said.

The rise of containers, and, specifically, Docker, was one of the most-discussed trends in 2015. Technically, Docker’s break-out year was 2014, but its rapid emergence meant that few companies had containers on their product roadmap in 2014. This year, everyone is at least kicking the tires, Cockcroft said.

Right now, most containers have a very short shelf life, he said, meaning that most companies are probably using them in a testing environment, rather than in production. That’s going to change in 2016.

As we’ve discussed for months in the run-up to Structure, the growth of the public cloud and the container ecosystem poses huge challenges for legacy IT compaines. Cockcroft got a few laughs with some slides laying out (tongue firmly in cheek) the various strategies of those companies, such as Dell’s (“The ship is sinking, let’s re-brand as a submarine!”) EMC’s (The ship is sinking, let’s merge with a submarine!”) and HP’s (Look! We cut our ship in two really quickly!”).

Check out the video of Cockcroft’s presentation below and check out our event coverage page for more from Structure 2015.

State of the Cloud and Container Ecosystems from Structure on Vimeo.

Facebook’s new switch should help it scale with your photos

New Structure, new Facebook switch. For the second consecutive year, Facebook’s Jay Parikh unveiled a new networking switch under the auspices of the Open Compute Project at Structure.

As reported by Fortune’s Stacey Higginbotham, who also interviewed Parikh on stage, the new 100-gigabit switches will help Facebook deal with one of its biggest challenges: serving up the mountains of photos its billion-plus users upload to the site and access constantly. Minutes after Instagram’s Mike Krieger talked about the “Instagration” process that it embarked upon after being acquired by Facebook, Parikh noted that the new switches will help Instragram with the same challenges.

Check out a video embed of the session below, and check out our coverage page for more from Structure 2015.

Facebook's Global Cloud Strategy from Structure on Vimeo.

Google’s Hölzle: We can be an enterprise-focused company

Google is a distinct third in the three-way race for the public cloud market, and some have wondered if a search company can really deliver the kind of enterprise-oriented service that companies outside the tech industry are used to getting. The man in charge of Google’s cloud push says not to worry.

“Our reputation lags reality, but we will catch up,” Urs Hölzle, senior vice president of technical infrastructure told attendees at Structure 2015. As reported by Fortune’s Barb Darrow, Hölzle believes that Google’s years of experience with Google Apps will help the company bridge that gap, and he hinted that some big announcements will be coming soon that could make good on that promise.

Check out a video embed of the session below, and check out our coverage page for more of Structure 2015.

How the Cloud of 2020 Will Be Drastically Different From the Cloud of 2015 from Structure on Vimeo.

Vinod Kholsa is not impressed with legacy IT companies

Vinod Khosla of Khosla Ventures delivered another classic performance at Structure 2015, holding forth on a wide variety of enterprise technology topics before delivering a broadside against the middle-aged companies that helped build the tech industry.

“They’ve not introduced what I consider one new idea over the last 30 years,” Khosla said, referring to Dell, IBM, and EMC, as reported by Business Insider. Believe it or not, as a venture capitalist, Khosla believes that innovation in technology comes from the startup community, and he’s got a lot of evidence to support that view, especially as those legacy companies scramble to deal with the advent of cloud computing.

Check out a video embed of the session below, and check out our coverage page for more from Structure 2015.

What Past Lessons Teach Us About the Cloud's Future from Structure on Vimeo.

Intel’s programmable Xeon chip on tap for early 2016

First announced over a year ago at Structure, Intel’s Diane Bryant confirmed that the chip company’s first field-programmable Xeon processor will ship next year, allowing Intel’s datacenter customers to customize that chip for disparate workloads in ways never before available from Intel.

Bryant, speaking at Structure 2015, confirmed that the chips are on track for the first quarter of 2016. As Fortune’s Barb Darrow details, these chips are coveted by the so-called “Super 7” chip customers (Amazon, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Alibaba, Baidu, and Tencent) for specialized workloads in their datacenters.

Check out a video of the session below, and check out our coverage page for more from Structure 2015.

Acquiring, Partnering and Building – How Intel Sees the Cloud from Structure on Vimeo.

The FBI wants cloud companies to be more transparent about security

As they say, you’re not paranoid if they really are out to get you. As Chief Information Security Officer for the FBI, Arlette Hart is responsible for protecting the nation’s premier law enforcement organization from the reams of attackers that would like a look at its data, and she believes that if the cloud industry wants the federal government’s business, it has to be very clear about how it secures that data.

Arlette joined us on stage at Structure 2015 to talk about cloud security at the FBI, and as Fortune’s Stacey Higginbotham details, she held forth on a number of security-related topics. First and foremost for this crowd, however, was the notion that transparency is paramount (which is kind of a funny thing for the FBI to say, but…).

Check out a video of the session below, and check out our coverage page for more reports from Structure 2015.

If the FBI Can't Secure It, Who Can? from Structure on Vimeo.

Structure 2015 event coverage

Structure is back. Our friends in the tech industry made it very clear after the untimely demise of Gigaom that a non-vendor-orchestrated cloud-computing conference was something much desired by the community, and we’re quite pleased to bring that to you Wednesday and Thursday from downtown San Francisco.

Here you’ll find links to coverage of all the sessions scheduled for Structure 2015. We don’t have quite the manpower we used to have in the old days, so bear with us, but rest assured: everything that happened at Structure will be captured on this page before you sit down to Thanksgiving dinner.

In the interim, please enjoy a livestream of Structure 2015 here. We thank you for your support of our new company, and look forward to presenting additional events as compelling and fruitful as Structure 2015 in the coming year.

Day One:

Intel’s programmable Xeon chip on tap for early 2016
Adrian Cockcroft lays out the state of the cloud and containers
The FBI wants cloud companies to be more transparent about security
At Pinterest, being cloud native is in everyone’s interest
Apcera’s Derek Collison on bubbles, development cycles, and standards bodies
Vinod Khosla is not impressed with legacy IT companies
Google’s Eric Brewer and CoreOS’s Alex Polvi plot the future of containers
Microsoft’s Sirosh: mass production is coming to machine learning
Why Wal-Mart decided to open-source its devops secret sauce
Google’s Hölzle: We can be an enterprise-focused company
SAP’s Clark: Latency is the new bandwidth
Beware the rise of “hybrid washing,” warns Virtustream CEO
If you’re worried about cloud lock-in, Mesosphere claims it can help
Panel: Europe’s new data transfer laws could restrain cloud startups
One of the best arguments for the cloud? Scaling is easy

Day Two:
Bryan Cantrill’s wild ride through the history of the container
In just five years, Instagram has seen a lot of infrastructure shifts
Facebook’s new switch should help it scale with your photos
MongoDB CEO Ittycheria thinks we’ve seen the last of the commercial database companies
RingCentral’s Shmunis: Cloud-based voice apps have to “just work”
At Disney, the DevOps movement awakens
The state of the enterprise startup market in 2015
How GE found public cloud religion and closed its datacenters
Mark Shuttleworth’s new tools for a new era of software
20 minutes on the hot seat: Structure panel tackles the big questions
Panel: Watch your cloud costs carefully
How Docker made the container user friendly
Even in the age of the cloud, the datacenter is alive and well

A look back at the State of the Cloud, and a few new predictions for 2015

I’m pleased to present a contributed post from guest author and Structure 2015 speaker Adrian Cockcroft of Battery Ventures, who took a look back at his predictions from last year’s State of the Cloud presentation at Structure 2014 before he presents an update in just over a week on the first day of the show, Nov. 18th. Everything that follows was written by him.

In June 2014 I presented “Cloud Trends,” a presentation on the state of the cloud computing industry at the Gigaom Structure conference. At that time I tried to show both the current state of the cloud computing ecosystem as well as provide my predictions for how the industry would evolve over the new few years.

Now, a year and some months later, I’m revisiting those points to see if they stand up to scrutiny. And as cloud computing continues to accelerate the pace of innovation, I also have a few new predictions to share.

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Two cloud trends that could kill vendor lock-in once and for all

Ever since somebody first punched a card, customers of enterprise technology products and services have had a love/hate relationship with their vendors. The productivity gains enabled by modern information technology have transformed our economy, but that technology often saddles companies with complicated and expensive hardware and software that, once it becomes indispensible to a business model, becomes almost impossible to ditch when something better comes along down the road.

It’s called lock-in, and it has been frustrating tech customers for a very long time. But now a new generation of enterprise software and services companies promises to break that lock-in cycle by delivering their products over the internet, theoretically making it easy to switch between different providers. And the rise of containers as the building blocks of an application development strategy could further enable the promise of interoperability.

In practice, breaking the lock is probably going to be way more complicated than that. But these are issues we plan to unpack in just two weeks at Structure 2015. Scheduled for November 18th and 19th at the Julia Morgan Ballroom in downtown San Francisco, Structure is our annual conversation on the trends that are shaping the cloud computing industry, and in talking to speakers and attendees over the last month, the promise of cloud interoperability to avoid vendor lock-in is something that this community is following very closely.

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The cloud needs hardware. Learn about its future at Structure

One of my favorite parts of Structure has always been the yearly updates our speakers provide on the most cutting-edge infrastructure tools available to the world.

Sure, it’s a conference about the cloud, and the wonderful feeling that results from not having to deal with setting up and maintaining server racks and networking gear. But the advances that are made each year in chips, infrastructure strategy, and storage are the foundation of public cloud services, and knowing what might be possible in a few years provides an advantage.

We’ve assembled another great roster of those speakers for Structure 2015, just four weeks away. On November 18th and 19th in downtown San Francisco, some of the most prominent people in enterprise infrastructure technology will be speaking about their latest developments and future plans.

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Structure 2015

Are public clouds really safer than private data centers?

We’re a little less than one month away from Structure 2015! After laying out some key themes a couple of months ago, and expanding on one of them last month, the nice people at Fortune were kind enough to let me write a guest post for them on another one of our key topics: security.

Security is always a hot-button issue, and it’s a funny one in the cloud. Cloud computing skeptics have long raised security concerns about public clouds, but the real-world experience has been mostly the opposite: you’re at greater risk running your own datacenters. I explore a couple of these issues and highlight some key speakers in the post over at Fortune, so please check that out.

Structure Rewind: Twitter on automation and scaling

It has been a rough day for Twitter. New (and former) CEO Jack Dorsey’s first major decision since returning to an official leadership position last week was to cut 336 people, or about 8 percent of its staff. The engineering group took the brunt of those layoffs, according to an internal memo from Dorsey shared with the public, and a lot of people who follow Twitter closely were of the opinion that the company was a little engineer-heavy over the past few years.

Part of the reason for that feeling might have been the work Twitter has done over the past few years automating its infrastructure to avoid the infamous “fail whale” of the service’s early years, and the scaling it has put into place to handle spikes in Twitter activity when big events happen. In this week’s edition of Structure Rewind, check out this Structure 2014 interview with Twitter’s Raffi Krikorian (who has actually moved on to Uber) on some of the work Twitter has done to make its engineering operation more efficient.

It’s of no consolation to the people affected by the layoffs, of course. But perhaps worth noting that Structure 2014 speaker Vinod Khosla (who will be back this year) predicted a wave of automation, and the associated job losses, in his talk last year.

Structure 2015 will be held November 18th and 19th at the Julia Morgan Ballroom in downtown San Francisco. You can find a few interviews with key speakers here, a schedule of events here, and a handy link to buy tickets here.

Check out the video of Krikorian’s interview below:

Photo Credit: ed and eddie via Compfight cc

Structure Rewind: Amazon CTO Werner Vogels

It’s that time of year once again, when the cloud world travels to Vegas for Amazon’s big Re:Invent conference. If you’re waiting in line for your conference badge, or stuck at some airport bar waiting for a delayed flight, check out this video of Amazon CTO Werner Vogels last year at Structure.

Gigaom founder Om Malik and Vogels had an interesting conversation about topics that still ring true a year later: data and computing services across international borders in the post-Snowden era, how legacy IT operations strike a balance between legacy apps running in datacenters and cloud-first apps, and the technologies Amazon is eyeing for its own datacenters. I’m looking forward to hearing from Vogels later this week on the progress Amazon has made.

Just as a reminder, Structure 2015 will take place November 18th and 19th at the Julia Morgan Ballroom in San Francisco. You can find out more information about the show here, and you can buy your tickets here.

Check out Werner and Om’s conversation below:

Structure 2014: Masters of the public cloud from Structure on Vimeo.

structureconf eric brewer

Containers, containers everywhere! Learn why that is at Structure

When I interviewed Google Vice President of Infrastructure, and CAP theorem deviser, Eric Brewer in May about the future of distributed computing, he said that the mainstream adoption of application containers “[is] going to end up being at least as big a change as the ability to use a server in the cloud.

That’s a pretty big claim, but it’s not without merit and evidence to back it up. Linux containers have been around for far longer than Docker—the company and packaging format that made them famous—and they’re the technology that underpins Google’s entire infrastructure, as well as hot new technologies such as Apache Mesos. One could safely argue that, at this point, a high percentage of services from our favorite websites and services, including Twitter, Netflix and Apple, are running inside containers.

There a few big reasons why containers are so useful, but really it boils down to efficiency. Containers can slice a server (or even a virtual machine) into much smaller pieces than simply using a hypervisor. This means applications get only the resources they need, thus saving more room for more applications or servers. A smaller footprint overall means they can launch quickly and move across the network a lot easier.

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How GE is closing datacenters and moving to the public cloud

GE’s Chris Drumgoole caused quite a stir in cloud computing circles last year when he vowed that the industrial giant was going to move everything in its arsenal to the public cloud. While it’s definitely hard to turn a 123-year-old company with over 300,000 employees on a dime, GE is making more progress than you might expect.

“One hundred percent public cloud is still our goal,” Drumgoole said in an interview last week ahead of his upcoming appearance at Structure 2015 in November. “We’re on or slightly ahead of schedule with that march. It hasn’t been without pain, but almost none of the pain has been technical.”

structure conf chris drumgoole

As we discussed with Pinterest’s Raj Patel a few weeks back, even cloud-native companies have to build a culture around the use of cloud computing services. At GE, the engineers got on board (after a little grumbling), but getting legal to buy into the plan was much harder, especially given GE’s multinational customer base.

So how is GE pulling this off?

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Why Ellen Rubin and ClearSky Data are betting on the hybrid cloud

While the largest companies in the world are starting to figure out what Silicon Valley startups have known for years?—?it’s way easier and cheaper to use cloud computing services?—?cloud storage has required a bit more convincing. After all, it’s one thing to run a few apps on Amazon Web Services, but it’s quite another for conservative CIOs to warm up to the idea of storing their extremely sensitive corporate data outside of their control.

Fortunately for Ellen Rubin, co-founder and CEO of newly launched ClearSky Data, that’s starting to change. Rubin, who will be speaking at Structure 2015 in November, thinks that the combination of breakthroughs in storage caching technology (thanks to her co-founder, CTO Laz Vekiarides) and lots of spare Metro Ethernet capacity means the time is right for enterprises to consider a hybrid approach to cloud storage. But Rubin also sees a cultural shift in the way cloud services are being evaluated that’s making it easier for companies like ClearSky to emerge.

Rubin and Vekiarides raised the money for ClearSky Data last year, but kept quiet while working on their idea. Last month at VMworld, the company emerged from stealth mode with its take on a modern approach to storage needs: a hybrid combination of a storage appliance in the customer’s data center, cached storage within a metropolitan area, and cold storage on Amazon’s S3 service.

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How Pinterest is preparing for its future in the cloud – or on its own

Pinterest tends to fly under the radar of the tech industry, likely because the male-dominated tech sector doesn’t spend a whole lot of time pinning. But an awful lot of people – just over 76 million monthly users in July, according to Comscore – send roughly 120,000 requests per second to Pinterest’s infrastructure and have pinned over 50 billion things on the site, which even if you’re a unicorn is a pretty big undertaking.

Raj Patel is the man responsible for keeping Pinterest up and running, although he insists that’s really everybody’s job in the infrastructure engineering department at the five-year-old company. Patel, head of cloud engineering for Pinterest, is someone we’re really excited about having on stage at Structure 2015 this November in San Francisco.

Structure conference Speaker - Raj patel

I recently got a chance to sit down with him for a wide-ranging interview on how a modern consumer web startup plans, builds, and scales its computing needs. Patel has been through a few generations of infrastructure evolution while working for tech giants such as Yahoo and Cisco, and is now taking on a new challenge in the form of a consumer-facing social networking company run entirely on the public cloud. That experience provided some unique perspective on scale and engineering focus that, assuming Pinterest continues to grow, could mean a move into owning and operating its own infrastructure.

Here are a few topics we explored in our conversation, but expect to hear much more at Structure:

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structureconf derrick harris

I hope you’re ready for an amazing year of Structure shows

Helping plan the Structure series of conferences has been an integral part of my professional life, so I am beyond thrilled to be back doing it again with the new incarnation of Structure.

For those who don’t know me, I was a writer with Gigaom since 2009 and served as editorial chair for numerous Structure events. While I focused on Structure Data for the past few years, I also led the Structure and Structure Europe conferences in years past, and was always at least involved in planning them all. It was hard work, but it was always worth it.

It was worth it because Structure is such a unique brand in the world of tech conferences. I was an attendee at the first Structure show in 2008, and was blown away by the level and vision of the speakers there. While the rest of the tech world was questioning the viability of cloud computing, these folks were busy laying out its future.

Year after year, conference after conference, it was the same story for Hadoop, software-defined networks, NoSQL databases, the Internet of Things and the list goes on. Structure, Structure Data and Structure Connect were always on the cutting edge, looking to the future while so many other shows were focused on the past and the present.

So now Structure is back and, I believe, will be better than ever. We have a great team in place, a great new home and great speakers already lined up for the first show in November. Up next is Structure Data in March, so if you’re interested in speaking, please do fill out our online application or contact me directly: derrick@structureconf.com.

See you in November!

New for Structure 2015: Workday’s David Clarke

At so many of our events over the years, one of the most persistent topics has involved the complications of scaling technology companies once it becomes clear your business has legs: how do I grow efficiently? How do I set things up from Day One to avoid problems in the future? How do I blow up the creaky architecture set up by that one hungover contract employee who was cousins with the founder and start over?

David Clarke, senior vice president of technology development at Workday, has a lot of experience dealing with these problems (except for that last one, probably). We’re pleased to announce that Clarke will be joining us at Structure 2015, coming in November to downtown San Francisco. One of the pioneering cloud software companies, Workday has grown substantially over the last several years providing business-management software over the internet to startups and big companies alike: it announced Wednesday that it has crossed “the 1,000-customer milestone” in a press release that also reported a 51 percent jump in revenue for its second quarter.

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Structure 2015: Check out the schedule

Six weeks after we kicked off this little adventure, we’re three months away from Structure 2015, and it’s time to share the schedule for the two-day event in San Francisco.

We’ve already announced several speakers for our cloud-computing event, such as Urs Hölzle of Google and Diane Bryant of Intel. But we’ve now got the full roster available for you to check out what’s going to be happening November 18th and 19th in the Julia Morgan Ballroom at the Merchants Exchange Building in downtown San Francisco.

In addition to the speakers and themes we’ve already announced, I’m looking forward to hearing from Joseph Sirosh of Microsoft, who will be interviewed by Derrick Harris on the always-fascinating subject of machine learning. I’m going to be talking to Raj Patel of Pinterest later that day about the unique challenges that Pinterest faces in maintaining site reliability and its cloud strategy, which Pinterest doesn’t often discuss in public. Florian Leibert, CEO of red-hot startup Mesosphere, will also appear on Day 1.

Day 2 should feature two very interesting talks from two very interesting founders: Mike Krieger, co-founder of Instagram, will talk about the engineering challenges of the five-year-old app (hard to believe it’s only been five years) and what he’s planning for over the next five years as part of Facebook. And Mark Shuttleworth, founder and chairman of Canonical, is scheduled to talk about how containers are changing the way companies think about cloud management, and the tools that can help make sense of it all.

The complete schedule is here. We’re really excited about how this is all coming together, and we can’t wait to see everybody back at Structure. You can find more information and purchase tickets here.

structureconf marianna tessel

A new addition for Structure 2015: Docker engineering head Marianna Tessel

In just a few years, Docker has gone from a little-known startup to one of the hottest companies on the planet, influencing the future of software development in a fashion that has made the big players sit up and pay attention. We’re proud to announce that Marianna Tessel, senior vice president of engineering, will be joining us at Structure 2015.

Tessel runs engineering for Docker, which has dominated much of the conversation over the last year around containers. It’s kind of hard to believe that Docker 1.0 was released only last June: since then, Amazon, Microsoft, Google, VMware (Tessel’s former employer), IBM, and a host of other companies have partnered with Docker, and it’s probably a safe bet that more than a few have thought long and hard about buying the company, which has raised $160 million and is said to be a member of the “unicorn” club.

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structure conference alex polvi

New at Structure 2015: Alex Polvi of CoreOS and Eric Brewer of Google

The rise of containers and associated need for container management strategies are among our top themes for Structure 2015. So we thought we’d tackle both of those topics in one session.

We’re pleased to announce that CoreOS CEO Alex Polvi (pictured above) and Eric Brewer, vice president of infrastructure for Google and a Kubernetes evangelist (pictured below), will join us at Structure 2015 this November. A moderator-to-be-named-later will host a session involving the two gentlemen that should be quite interesting after all the movement toward container standards in 2015.

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structure michelle mckenna

NFL CIO Michelle McKenna-Doyle will make her Structure debut this November

Just as training camps kick into full swing across the country, we’re pleased to announce that Michelle McKenna-Doyle, CIO for the National Football League, is coming to Structure this November.

McKenna-Doyle, a first-time Structure speaker, oversees the technology used by NFL teams on the sidelines as well as the league’s overall technology strategy. The NFL signed a high-profile deal with Microsoft a few years ago to allow (and encourage) coaches to use Surface tablets as one of their in-game tools instead of those huge floppy laminated poster things. And given football’s fetish for statistics and data, as well as the increased scrutiny around player health, the league is investing in modern IT infrastructure.

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Diane Bryant Intel

Intel’s Diane Bryant is back to talk datacenter chips at Structure 2015

The cloud revolution has upended the server market, but Intel is determined to remain the power behind the massive datacenters that enable the cloud. That means we’re looking forward to an update from Diane Bryant, senior vice president and general manager of Intel’s Datacenter Group, at Structure 2015.

Despite the fact that the rise of cloud computing means fewer companies are actually buying their own off-the-shelf servers, Bryant leads a division of Intel that’s growing at a healthy clip. Massive cloud providers like Amazon are building their own infrastructure designed around their own needs, which means Intel has had to get flexible in order to accommodate the new buyers of server processors.

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Jay Parikh, Facebook

Facebook’s Jay Parikh is coming back to Structure this November

In just over ten years, Facebook has become a powerhouse company in the tech industry. And that’s not just because it lets you see which of your former high school classmates have turned into weirdos; it has unique infrastructure needs and has developed pioneering strategies to deal with those challenges. The man responsible for keeping Facebook going, Jay Parikh, is coming back to Structure 2015.

Last year at Structure Parikh unveiled Facebook’s top-of-rack Wedge switch, the latest installment in the Open Compute Project it kicked off years ago. And after it unveiled the modular “6-pack” switch in Februrary, it’s definitely time for an update on how Facebook’s networking strategy has evolved to make sure those baby pictures load quickly.

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Structure 2015

Five hot topics you can expect to hear about at Structure 2015

Acquiring the computing power you need to run your business has probably never been easier in the history of the information technology industry, yet it remains quite complicated in practice to make everything flow smoothly. Cloud computing has allowed thousands of companies big and small to get off the ground without having to put together their own infrastructure, but there are many ways to slice (and price) the cloud.

These are some of the things we’re thinking about as everything starts coming together for Structure 2015, the new-yet-quite-familiar tech conference that we’re bringing back after the demise of Gigaom earlier this year. Structure is scheduled for November 18th and 19th at the Julia Morgan Ballroom in San Francisco, and several familiar faces — such as Adrian Cockcroft, Urs Hölzle, and Vinod Khosla — are confirmed as speakers, with more to come.

Here are five major themes we plan to cover at Structure 2015:

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Vinod Khosla of Khosla Ventures will speak at Structure 2015

Never shy and always thought-provoking, Khosla Ventures founder and longtime enterprise technology investor Vinod Khosla will be back for Structure 2015 this November in San Francisco.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Khosla last year at Structure when he caused a bit of a stir by assuring attendees focused on IT (no small number) that automation was coming for their jobs. “It’s ridiculous to have humans manage the level of complexity that they do. People are a big cost in IT. Let’s take that out,” he said, and I’m very curious to hear an update on how that’s going.

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Urs Hölzle, Google’s legendary engineer, will join us at Structure 2015

It’s pretty safe to say that there would be no Google without Urs Hölzle, the man who figured out how to take Larry Page and Sergey Brin’s concept for a search engine and design the computing infrastructure that launched Google to prominence and is still the envy of the tech industry more than a decade later.

We’re proud to have Urs back for Structure 2015, set to take place this November in San Francisco. We have a lot of questions for Urs about the progress of Google Cloud Platform and its progress facing up against the deep-pocketed competitors — Amazon and Microsoft — that are also racing to build the public cloud infrastructure of the future.

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Structure veteran Adrian Cockcroft will be back for 2015, talking the state of clouds and containers

Structure 2015 has only been live for a few days, but we’re ready to announce the first of our confirmed speakers for November: Adrian Cockcroft, technology fellow at Battery Ventures and alumnus of Silicon Valley tech stalwarts Netflix, eBay, and Sun Microsystems, will join us on stage at the Julia Morgan Ballroom to reprise his talk from last year on cloud trends, but with a very 2015 twist.

After roaring into the picture in 2014, container technology is maturing quite rapidly in 2015, and Cockcroft plans to update his talk to include discussion of the container ecosystem coming off the announcements at DockerCon in June. We hope to have other container-related discussions on tap for the event, so make sure to check back as we roll out more speakers.

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Structure 2015

Introducing Structure, a new tech events company

We’re getting (some of) the band back together.

When Gigaom abruptly shut down last March, the world lost not just a storied tech blog but a vibrant and growing series of tech events, a forum based on editorial integrity in which some of the most important issues of our world were hashed out and where visionaries and startups could mix, mingle, and learn from each other.

As several of us wondered what to do next, we realized pretty quickly in talking to our contacts in the tech industry that the demise of the Structure Series — Structure, Structure Data, and Structure Connect — left quite a void in the yearly calendar. So over the past several months, a series of quiet conversations began in hopes of bringing back this one-of-a-kind event portfolio.
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