So, away from the proclamations and wider tech industry discussions, what hard facts can the travel industry discover when it comes to understanding and adopting cloud computing?
As I expected in my lead-in article for HITEC, cloud computing was among the most discussed topics at this year’s show and the subject of one of the better attended educational sessions.
The cloud computing "supersession" was moderated by Horseshoe Bay Resort CIO, Lyle Worthington and featured a diverse group of panelists, including Rackspace CTO John Engates, Infor’s SVP of R&D Javier Buzzalino, PAR Springer-Miller President and CEO Larry Hall, and Charles Henderson, Trustwave’s director of application security services.
The presentations were pretty wide ranging in scope and depth, providing a little something for everyone. Rackspace’s Engates did a nice job of setting the context with a "Cloud 101" presentation.
As fast as cloud computing adoption is growing - Rackspace’s cloud business was roughly $50 million in 2010 with a base of 60,000 customers – Engates predicted that enterprise adoption will reach 50% of all computing infrastructure by 2015.
Even as we’re near the top of the cloud hype cycle, that seemed high, until Engates clarified (over Twitter, from the podium) that the prediction included private and hybrid cloud implementations.
PAR’s participation was pretty timely given that it launched its cloud based next generation hospitality management system, called ATRIO Guest Experience Management, a few days before the start of the show.
ATRIO, developed for PAR Springer-Miller by a third party, was a ground-up development effort built on Microsoft’s Azure cloud computing platform.
The effort began in Q4 2008, taking more than 2.5 years. It was a big bet by PAR at a time of great financial uncertainty in the economy, but they hope it pays off. Initially PAR expected that 80%-85% of new deployments would be cloud based, but today believe that virtually all new implementations (98%-99%) will be based on ATRIO.
For me the pièce de résistance was the presentation by Infor’s Buzzalino who leads Infor’s 600-person R&D organization.
He didn’t just go deep, he went Jules-Verne-Journey-to-the-Center-of-the-Earth deep into application architecture for the cloud.
Buzzalino discussed the benefits of multi-tiered architectures, the impact of multi-tenancy on scalability, the benefits of the NoSQL movement has for the cloud (traditional SQL databases were not designed for the cloud and horizontal partitioning only gets you so far), and many other topics.
One angle that he discussed, which I thought was particularly intriguing, was the role of "governors" in a multi-tenant environment.
These governors put restrictions on what one tenant can do to ensure that they don’t consume so many computing resources that it crushes the application performance for other customers.
For me, Buzzalino’s presentation was outstanding not only in its technical depth, but that he was able to make the concepts accessible to the members of the audience who were not architects (that means all of us).
And even though some of the content may have went over the heads of parts of the audience, you couldn’t help but leave the presentation feeling impressed by the technical leadership of the Infor team and confident that they’re providing a true enterprise-class solution.