Werner Vogels of Amazon on the Future of the Cloud—Quick Hits from OVP Tech Summit

There was a lot of discussion about the top trends in energy, biotech, and computing at last week’s technology summit in Seattle hosted by OVP Venture Partners. The afternoon breakout session on information technology, attended by a few dozen IT leaders, focused on the theme of “big data.” This was all about the opportunities and challenges faced by companies, research organizations, and IT departments who need to handle very large amounts of complex data, or sell software and services to do the same.

OVP managing director Mark Ashida kicked things off by talking about how managing data in the Internet cloud fits into OVP’s investment themes. “It has become much easier to link data together at a higher level, and get higher value,” Ashida said. “We’re very excited because big data and biology are converging. Lots of startups are dealing with huge amounts of data.” (By “huge amounts,” think terabytes of data per day, which is roughly the amount of information in a human genome.)

A lively panel discussion ensued, with presentations from a half-dozen tech companies from around the country that are trying to solve different parts of this problem. The list of firms—most of which are not in OVP’s investment portfolio—included Specific Media, Complete Genomics, Cloudera, Vertica Systems, and Aster Data Systems.

Then it was the godfather of cloud services’ turn to speak. Werner Vogels, Amazon’s chief technology officer, gave an overview of where the industry is headed, and what kinds of new problems will be solved. Vogels came to Amazon in 2004 after 10 years as a research scientist in the field of distributed computing at Cornell University, and has led Amazon’s considerable efforts in Web services, among other things.

Vogels first defined “cloud computing” as he sees it—a term that didn’t exist when his company launched Amazon Web Services in 2006. “There is a definition I actually like: cloud computing is a style of computing where you have massively scalable IT-related capabilities that are available as a service, over the Internet, to multiple customers.” He added that the storage and computing resources also … Next Page »

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