Wednesday 14 May 2014

MomoLondon: Cloud Computing & Mobile

A new venue tonight — up on the 9th floor of Google’s Central St Giles office. They even provided good food for the hungry mobile mondayers…

The evening’s focus was on Cloud Computing and Mobile, and the questions seemed to focus mainly on the cloud with not much discussion about how it related to mobile. The chair, Camille, kept the discussion moving along briskly, but we didn’t really get into any depth on any of the subjects. Maybe the audience could smell the food!

The panel

  • Chair: Camille Mendler @cmendler
    • Principal Analyst at Informa
  • Rob Easton @Cloud_Easton
    • Head of Google Cloud Platform UK & Ireland
    • Eurovision app used App Engine for back-end
  • Dr Janko Mrsic-Flogel
    • CEO of Private Planet — personal cloud
    • 7 out of 10 carriers are providing a personal cloud solution
  • Caroline Van Den Bergh @GoldenGekko
    • Golden Gekko mobile agency
    • 85% of apps we build are based on Google App Engine
  • Jonathan Raper @MadProf

outages & availability

  • JR: best service providers are those that communicate well when things go wrong
    • one provider went down and didn’t tell us anything for an hour

looking forward

  • RE: google datacentres include a new one in Taiwan at 15 hectares
    • green computing
    • Google can provide very low latency
    • enables reaching out to new business areas such as the film industry
  • JR: still talking quite aggregated performance measures
    • can’t ask for X many transactions for Y pounds
    • not that detailed
    • next step may be platform products
  • CVDB: mobile enterprise software saving two days a week
    • managing remote teams
  • JR: sometimes blame is shifted between telcos & cloud
    • would like to have better tracing
  • JMF: Private Planet have a totally green datacentre in Telecity in Holland for T-Mobile

internet of things

  • JR: the problem is trading information
    • automatically discovering different feeds & blending them
    • spend 3 weeks integrating code and 3 months arguing over terms & conditions
  • CVDB: best successes have been smaller ones
  • CM: find my yak in nepal
    • the yak’s don’t talk back — so there’s no privacy issues!
  • RE: getting electricity usage feeds every 10 minutes
  • CVDB: there has been scaremongering around Google capturing data
  • JR: all our data is royalty-free downstream
    • makes it much easier to deal with
  • CM: Copenhagen have bike devices to share traffic information
    • provide individual exercise info
    • but also shared with municipality
  • JR: Waze has lots of complicated terms & conditions
    • data is available but locked up

the next generation

  • CM: has been proved conclusively that 3D gaming improves your cognitive ability
  • JR: …minecraft
  • JR: it’s still a bit like early 2000 — mobile operator walled gardens
    • want to take down the barriers and bring the data silos together
  • CVDB: working with Saga
    • older people have more time, want to delve deeper
    • tablets more popular than mobile phones

data scientists

  • CM: shouldn’t we moving towards everyone manipulating their own data
  • JR: digital literacy is very shallow, especially in highest decision-making tiers

security issue — data protection

  • safe harbour in tatters
  • can’t use the cloud at all if we have any secure data
  • JMF: Private Planet always has data centre in the specific country
    • but are governments the biggest problem? what about the corporates?
  • JR: if you need to do it, in-country encrypted solutions are available
  • RE: sure, there are some workloads that Google can’t take on
    • e.g. we won’t let you audit our data centre
    • so can’t work under FCA regulations
    • over time, some of these regulations are going to change
  • JR: all have to do as much as we can to help the government make the right decisions
  • JR: sometimes the safest place to do something is in the cloud — e.g. running Windows
    • we don’t allow it on any of our machines
    • but it’s great in the cloud!

what if cloud provider company goes bankrupt?

  • JR: escrow
  • JMF: most agreements done via a channel partner — so that partner will continue the service
    • single party relationship is much more complicated
  • RE: cloud business could be bigger than ads for Google
    • SLA penalties are often a percentage of what you pay
    • but if you pay less and less, the SLA means less and less…

is it becoming like supermarket wars?

  • RE: Google reduced prices — and if you use an instance more than 25% per month then get a discount
    • terabyte of storage is $26/month
  • CM: just like a loyalty card…
    • who will be Lidl and who will be Waitrose?

will we still be waiting in several years?

  • JR: overestimate change in the short term and underestimate in the long term — change is stepped
    • sometimes have to wait for the step change in technology or regulation
  • CVDB: business are going to grow up quickly
    • first digital generation CEOs will be around in the next few years

third party dependencies

  • JR: Apple reviews can be capricious
    • if Apple fall out of love with Dropbox, then that could cause a problem for lots of apps
  • JMF: was a huge debate on mobile medical health a while ago
    • then suddenly there was an app that just works
    • and the issues can just disappear
    • gadget-led terms and conditions…?

speed & access?

  • RE: check out server density review
    • blog by someone who reviewed lots of providers and switched to Google
  • CVDB: Golden Gekko mandate that all backends must be on Google App Engine
    • mainly so that clients can scale

new innovations in infrastructure?

  • RE: Google build our own servers
    • apparently they would be the 3rd biggest manufacturers in the world
    • they value new innovation

where is the next growth to make it easier?

  • RE: focused on the developer
  • JMF: If This Then That
    • making cloud development open to the consumer
    • certain mobile operators are understanding this and joining up devices in the home
  • CVDB: finding that doesn’t suit
    • one size doesn’t quite fit all
    • prefer google’s flexibility

inviting consumers to get more involved

  • CVDB: user testing
    • avoiding ivory tower
    • developed O2 Priority Moments
    • built packaged solutions based on it
    • incentivized behaviour also used in enterprise apps
  • JR: designed a first location bank
    • your own location storage — that you can choose to share
    • (Ed. see also fireeagle)
    • next generation have a different approach to privacy
  • RE: snapchat is a massive google customer
  • audience: teenagers using technology completely differently
    • using snapchat to have a whole conversation
  • RE: snapchat consumes more IT than any banking industry
    • JDI has 10 petabytes on Google cloud
    • consumers of IT will be well away from the enterprise
    • can have failure at a much cheaper cost — can learn more

what financial services are possible in the cloud?

  • RE: restricted by FCA regulations, but other options possible
    • e.g. datasift to search across twitter
    • big challenge to attract IT talent in financial services as there are so many restrictions


  • JR: right now it’s hard to hire — ruby on rails developers are hard to find
    • constraint on development right now
  • CVDB: couldn’t agree more — mobile skills are in short supply

tools for analytics & loyalty/crm

  • looking at how data can be analysed
  • wanting to drive revenue per user
  • wanting to get the right tools in place to complete the feedback loop
  • CVDB: iris solutions company
  • JR: “build it in the cloud, but just don’t tell IT”
  • RE: tableau, BIME, etc. working on top of Google Big Query
    • now a lot cheaper

After the panel discussion

As often happens with Mobile Monday, the discussion after the panel was richer than the panel itself. Some discussion points that came up when I was talking to people afterwards included:

  • How do you balance keeping data on the device and in the cloud, to deal with intermittent network availability?
  • Will the banks get clobbered by more agile personal finance companies that don’t have to worry about so many regulations?
  • Why has it taken Google since 2008 to move from basic App Engine web apps to a full cloud platform?
  • How will Google make more money from Cloud Computing than from Ads? There’s a big market, but the price is dropping…
  • …and on a completely different note, several people were interested in setting up Code Clubs in their local primary schools, but were stretched for time — perhaps they could work together and contribute part-time?

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