A tale of 2 tech conferences: Google I/O and Red Hat Summit


There were two big tech events at opposite ends of the country this week. One was staid and featured integration of existing technologies into new(ish) products. Attending were IT  folks from stock exchanges, big insurance companies, and railroads. It was in Boston. The other catered to young developers and flaunted augmented reality glasses and people skydiving from a blimp onto the Moscone Center roof in San Francisco. Twice.

One was the Red Hat Summit. The other was Google I/O. Guess which was which.

The two shows spotlighted the dichotomy of the tech between stolid-if-productive companies that furnish technologies (or at least support and service of technologies) that businesses pay for. The other represents dot.com-era consumer-oriented ventures with gobs of dough, but not much of it deriving from actual product sales. (Online advertising is a whole other matter.)

Google I/O day one was marked by a bit of chaos — the keynote kicked off with half the attendees still milling around outside . No such snafus for the orderly Red Hat crowd. Google had lots of virtual reality fun and games after hours. Red Hat had cocktails at Fenway Park. Neither is good or bad, just different.

Red Hat brought out Red Hat Storage, as expected. It brings acquired Gluster technology firmly into the fold to form another layer of the Red Hat stack. And it updated its OpenShift PaaS roadmap. Google showed off slick new tablets and Google Glasses and debuted its  infrastructure as a service which, arguably will end up competing with Red Hat but more importantly represents a full-on assault on Amazon’s EC2 public cloud monolith. In fact, Amazon, with its public cloud might, may be one thing these two companies have in common — Amazon’s coming after both of them.

Contending with Amazon’s cloud

Paul Cormier,  Red Hat’s president of worldwide products and technologies addressed the Amazon-as-threat issue in an interview this week but said it will be hard for Amazon to lure enterprise applications into its cloud.

“If I’m a three-person startup and want to get online fast, great, I’ll do AWS. I’d be crazy to buy hardware and software to do that. But as an enterprise spread across multiple sites, I have to worry about security, reliability — all the ‘ilities,'” he said. “The risk with the public cloud stuff is you get locked in the same way you used to get locked into the Suns, the DECs, the HPs of the world.”

Still, I have to note, that other enterprise tech players, including HP, are painfully aware of Amazon. Folks who say Amazon won’t target — and win — some enterprise workloads — should remember that most people never foresaw that an online book seller would become one of the biggest tech powers on the planet.

Amazon won’t ever be an enterprise tech supplier? Never say never.

Feature photo courtesy of Flickr user Red Hat’s official stream

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