Interview Series: Four Questions With … Brent Stineman

Greetings and welcome to the 25th interview in my series of chats with thought leaders in connected systems.  This month, I’ve wrangled Brent Stineman who works for consulting company Sogeti as a manager and lead for their Cloud Services practice,  is one of the first MVPs for Windows Azure, a blogger, and borderline excessive Tweeter.  I wanted to talk with Brent to get his thoughts on the recently wrapped up mini-PDC and the cloud announcements that came forth.  Let’s jump in.

Q: Like me, you were watching some of the live PDC 2010 feeds and keeping track of key announcements.  Of all the news we heard, what do you think was the most significant announcement? Also, which breakout session did you find the most enlightening and why?

A: I’ll take the second part first. “Inside Windows Azure” by Mark Russinovich was the session I found the most value in. it removed much of the mystery of what goes on inside the black box of windows Azure. And IMHO, having a good understanding of that will go a long way towards helping people build better Azure services. However, the most significant announcement to me was from Clemens Vasters’ future of Azure AppFabric presentation. I’ve long been a supporter of the Azure AppFabric and its nice to see they’re taking steps to give us broader uses as well as possibly making its service bus component more financially viable.

Q: Most of my cloud-related blog posts get less traffic than other topics.  Either my writing inexplicably deteriorates on those posts, or many readers just aren’t dealing with cloud on a day-to-day basis.  Where do you see the technology community when it comes to awareness of cloud technologies, and, actually doing production deployments using SaaS, PaaS or IaaS technology?  What do you think the tipping point will be for mass adoption?

A: There’s still many concerns as well as confusion about cloud computing. I am amazed by the amount of mis-information I encounter when talking with clients. But admittedly, we’re still early in the birth and subsequent adoption of this platform. While some are investing heavily in production usage, I see more folks simply testing the waters. To that end, I’m encouraging them to consider initial implementations outside of just production systems. Just like we did with virtualization, we can start exploring the cloud with development and testing solutions and once we grow more comfortable, move to production. Unfortunately, there won’t be a single tipping point. Each organization will have to find their own equilibrium between on-premises and cloud hosted resources.

Q: Let’s say that in five years, many of the current, lingering fears about cloud (e.g. security, reliability, performance) dim and cloud platforms simply become another viable choice for most new solutions.  What do you see the role of on-premises software playing?  When will organizations still choose on-premise software/infrastructure over the cloud, even when cloud options exist?

A: The holy grail for me is that eventually applications can move seamlessly between on-premises and the cloud. I believe we’re already seeing the foundation blocks for this being laid today. However, even when that happens, we’ll see times when performance or data protection needs will require applications to remain on-premises. Issues around bandwidth and network latency will unfortunately be with us for some time to come.

Q [stupid question]: I recently initiated a game at the office where we share something about ourselves that other may find shocking, or at least mildly surprising.  My “fact” was that I’ve never actually drank a cup of coffee.  One of my co-workers shared the fact that he was a childhood acquaintance with two central figures in presidential assassinations (Hinkley and Jack Ruby).  He’s the current winner.  Brent, tell us something about you that may shock or surprise us.

A: I have never watched a full episode of either “Seinfeld”  or “Friends”. 10 minutes of either show was about all I could handle. I’m deathly allergic to anything that is “in fashion”. This also likely explains why I break out in a rash whenever I handle an Apple product. 🙂

Thanks Brent. The cloud is really a critical area to understand for today’s architect and developer. Keep an eye on Brent’s blog for more on the topic.

Author: Richard Seroter

Richard Seroter is Director of Developer Relations and Outbound Product Management at Google Cloud. He’s also an instructor at Pluralsight, a frequent public speaker, the author of multiple books on software design and development, and a former editor plus former 12-time Microsoft MVP for cloud. As Director of Developer Relations and Outbound Product Management, Richard leads an organization of Google Cloud developer advocates, engineers, platform builders, and outbound product managers that help customers find success in their cloud journey. Richard maintains a regularly updated blog on topics of architecture and solution design and can be found on Twitter as @rseroter.

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