Cloud Connect 2013 – Report from the Expo Hall

lync server 2010, Lync Server 2013, Microsoft Lync, Unified Communications

Yesterday I spent the afternoon at the Cloud Connect event in Santa Clara. They hold an Expo for 2 days (basic registration is free), workshops & conferences.Cloud Connect 2013

Now wait a second. Why would a Lync expert go to a Cloud Computing expo?

  • I like to learn about the latest cloud services. Since Lync can run entirely on virtualized servers, hosting it in the cloud is a great way for companies to start using Lync without paying for lots of on-site hardware. (We’re already doing this via our own Private Cloud Service!) So it makes sense to be aware of the major players (and the upstarts) in the cloud arena. What they’re offering now, and what’s coming.
  • Networking. Always good to meet up with fellow IT pros. Hear some stories, discuss trends. Sometimes I meet good partners for us, or I can point people in a useful direction (like here!).
  • Prizes! Last year I won an iPad 2 from the OpSource booth (now Dimension Data). I figure that increases my odds of winning something this year too!

Results of Wandering in the Cloud (Connect)

Expos like Cloud Connect are prime example of sharing information via ALL channels. Lot of people are on twitter while moving through the expo (hashtag #cloudconnect). Networking took place in the lobby & the halls as well as the expo hall. There’s printed datasheets and transferred files aplenty.

This year, they had more discussion about PaaS and IaaS. Cloud providers have solidified their offerings in replacing on-site servers. With just a few of the exhibitors’ solutions, you could build an entire business network from email to desktop.

I went in with two main questions to answer:
“Where is Cloud going?” and
“How is the Lync Server awareness among the cloud crowd?”

These are the answers I came away with.

Where is cloud going?
Cloud is expanding its presence like crazy. The number of major players – Rackspace, VMWare, Citrix, OnApp – is only growing. What’s more, cloud providers are sharpening their focus. No longer is it just, “We host a cloud.”

Now it’s, “This is how our clouds are built, with your chosen elements in place. These options are customizable, we can host software in a hybrid deployment, and here’s some examples of how it’s done.”

Some of the exhibits had very specific software: Racemi, for example, offered software to automate migrations of server software into the cloud.

How was the general Lync Server awareness?
Actually quite low. Many of the exhibitors offered solutions for higher (OS, network routing) or lower (data storage) IT systems. Many of the solutions will accommodate Lync Server nicely – smart infrastructure management hardware from OpenGear, carrier-neutral data centers run by TelecityGroup in Europe.

The biggest issue was that many of these cloud providers didn’t support the necessary Microsoft software to host Lync!

In a way, I like that. It means many of these big cloud players are catering to one area of demand – non-Microsoft systems. Less competition for us! And there’s still plenty of solid development for cloud overall.

Big thanks to all the exhibitors with whom I spoke, and to Cloud Connect for putting this event on! Hmmm, wonder what I’ll win this year…
That’s all for this week, folks! Check back next time for more Lync how-to. I have a few write-ups in the works on issues with VoIP phones and Web App Server.

Did you go to Cloud Connect? What did you want to see there?

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