9 min read
March 27, 2021

The Roundup: Key Takeaways From CloudFest 2021


Susnigdha Tripathy

The biggest cloud networking event went all digital this year. Read our key takeaways from CloudFest 2021.

With a seventeen-year history of bringing cloud aficionados together, CloudFest provides an opportunity for cloud leaders, ISP providers, partners and peers to come together and make great things happen. There was a lot covered over the three-day event, the takeaways from CloudFest included a ton of opportunities to grow by connecting with other cloud experts.

Let's review the highlights.


The Trusted Foundation of the Cloud

Rebecca Weekly, VP at Intel, spoke of how Intel can help get most from your workloads running in cloud infrastructure and instances. Emphasizing the need to “optimize at the data center level warehouse of data-centric compute,” she said, “we have to be able to allow customers to optimize their TCO in their footprint, and in a hybrid footprint, flexing into the public cloud as needed.”

Powered by the Intel technology portfolio, its partners are delivering innovative solutions and services. By choosing Intel Xeon scalable processors and Intel SSDs (high quality, reliability, and performance), cloud service providers can deliver an impressive performance to their customers at cost-effective price points.

Software Performance and Efficiency in the Cloud

With expertise in AI, cloud enterprise HPC, and networking, Intel’s software engineers help make the most effective use of their customer’s servers. The Intel system health inspector, the Intel telemetry collector and the Intel skew emulator are just a few of the tools they use.  

Intel’s Director of Software Engineering, George Chaltas, said, “In addition to working directly with our customers, Intel invests in optimizing components across the entire software stack. One of the easiest ways to improve performance is to select software components that are already optimized for your platform.”

Intel has developed an API to respond to the challenges of specialized hardware architectures that limit code reuse. Of that, Chatlas said, “based on standards with an open specification that includes a unified language and libraries that deliver full native code performance that delivers native code performance across a range of hardware, including CPUs, GPUs, FPGAs, and AI accelerators.”

Moving beyond Encrypted Data to Confidential Computing

Confidential computing isolates data and stores it in the trusted execution environment (TEE), where applications can run without being compromised. Intel SGX plays a crucial role in making this capability a reality.

Dr. Markus Leberecht, the Senior Cloud Solutions Architect at Intel, opined Intel SGX “is constructed to have the smallest potential attack surface within the system, enabling applications to communicate directly with the CPU and encrypted memory, bypassing operating system and hypervisor layers.”

SGX will be added to Intel’s third-generation Xeon scalable processors. It will also include up to 1TB of available protected enclave space to accommodate huge workloads and datasets. “This comes with capabilities for protected offload directly from enclaves to hardware accelerators such as FPGAs and GPUs.”


How to store exabytes of machine-created data?

With data produced at an unprecedented scale, where do we store it? Toshiba has experience storing petabytes of random, unstructured data generated by organizations such as the Nuclear Research Institute in Geneva, where HDDs store terabytes of the data created every hour. These implementations provide a glimpse of the ways data is stored.

Rainer Kaese of Toshiba said the company had built the 18TB MG09 Series HDD, the world’s first microwave-assisted magnetic recording. As data grows exponentially, this advanced HDD 18TB MG09 with FC-MAMR technology will help CSPs achieve higher storage densities. Kaese said this would be done with “the microwave assisted magnetic recording have a potential to bring us 20, 30, or 40 terabyte drives.”

Dell Technologies

Cloud Strategy

Dell Technologies sees a bright future for the edge core cloud. Matt Baker, Senior VP at Dell Technologies, said, “the world is shifting towards decentralization and with that, we’re coming to a point where we need to manage hundreds of systems in hundreds of thousands, or maybe even millions of locations.” This shift is why Dell is building solutions like the Dell Technologies cloud platform. It leverages VMware, VCF, and Tanzu to help customers capture the full potential of the edge.  

Dell Technologies Protected Cloud Strategy

As enterprises adopt multi-cloud, it is critical to consider a data-first approach. In a multi-cloud scenario, it’s hard to build a solution that protects critical data from cyberattacks. Luc Esprit, VP Sales Data Protection Solutions at Dell, said Dell EMC Power Protect Data Manager delivers next-generation data protection. The capabilities allow users to protect and recover data in on-premises, virtualized, or cloud deployments.

Another way to put critical data out of reach of bad actors is to put it into a vault isolated from the network. “We have artificial intelligence, machine learning based technology that shows over time, what’s good inside the vault and detects any deviations from that.”


Understanding cloud growth using domain names

The talk with Andy Simpson of Verisign highlighted how the domain name industry has grown. Domain names have helped web professionals attract new customers - only 57% of internet users identifying as digital buyers. This growth presents an excellent opportunity for pros to source new customers and help them establish their online presence.

A significant trend in the domain name industry is the shift toward drag-and-drop website solutions that empower end-users to build their own content. Another observable trend is that many customers who register a domain name don’t immediately put up a website. Instead, they start using it for email to make them appear more professional. Simpson added, “on average in a year, we see more than 800,000 domain names that start off with email and don’t develop a website for at least three months after that.”


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State of the Web Pro industry

CTO and Co-Founder Amir Glatt of Duda, a leading website builder, shared insights from a survey of hundreds of web professionals. Web pros are using various tools to serve their customers--three out of four web pros use more than one content management tool for building websites. They need solutions that can help them scale and build projects quickly without sacrificing quality.

They also need to go into new business models like recurring subscriptions that will allow them to grow their businesses better. A tip of note is that web pros should start optimizing for Google Core Web Vitals, which is due to launch in May 2021.


The Rise of Domains Through the Pandemic and Beyond

Radix is the largest domain registry with over 6 million domains under management. Neha Naik, Director Channel Partnerships at Radix, shared insights on the domain registry market trends.

Last year, businesses building e-commerce websites was a strong trend. 41% of those e-commerce websites launched before 2020. Naik says these existing customers are adding e-commerce in response to the pandemic. “So, this presents a pretty large opportunity for all of us within the cloud in the hosting space to provide these tools and support to allow businesses to become more e-commerce.”

cPanel and Plesk

Now is the Time to Build

Plesk is a leading WebOps hosting platform that provides application developers access to a secure web infrastructure managed by hosting companies. Jens Meggers, CEO at cPanel and Plesk, said developers have become a scarce resource and need better tools. He announced a new addition, a complete server monitoring solution that makes it easier for developers to operate and monitor their servers.

The extremely powerful monitoring solution was designed specifically for developers and is easy to use. “Always keep in mind the right platform is the key for any developer success,” said Meggers, “And that’s what we have to focus on, we have to make our developer successful.”


SSD Technologies Central to the Accelerated Digital Transformation

Paul Rowan is the VP at KIOXIA Europe, a leading provider of NVMe SSDs, technology and data center software. He talked about the impact of COVID on the SSD market. KIOXIA can support these changes with flash and SSD technologies.

SATA has been the preferred flash-based SSDs. Eventually, the industry will move towards new form factors like EDS FF, E1.L, E3.L, and E3.S. Rowan said, “these new form factors will allow us to really drive the capabilities and the evolution of flash technology.” He also mentioned the next evolution of storage management. For example, KumoScale software is a high-performance block storage software suite based on the mobile fabric software solution.

“The software solution integrates seamlessly in data center infrastructures and reflash storage volumes via virtual storage layer between clients and flash devices.”


Combating Modern Malware in Hosting Environments

Jeremy Warren, CEO at Monarx, says the biggest problem with signature-based malware detection is that they are reactive in nature. For example, they can identify only known threats, not unknown ones. Further, signature-based methods involve human expertise, which takes time and introduces the possibility of error.

A better approach to malware detection is analyzing the code and understanding what it is doing in real-time. By doing this, “you can identify malware the moment that it gets dropped, as opposed to waiting months or years.” Automating the entire process, opting for dynamic detection patterns, and choosing advanced tooling measures can help organizations address their security challenges in a better way.


Tomorrow’s Edge: Building the Future of Trust and Security

Cloudflare is an HTTP caching edge network with data centers spread in over 200 places worldwide. Also, it is a cybersecurity company that protects websites from malicious activity like DDoS attacks, bots, and other intrusions. They also offer a free DNS service that provides a fast and private way to browse the internet.

Nick Sullivan, Head of research at CloudFlare, shared how the company has built a robust platform called CloudFlare Workers, “which is a service that allows customers, owners and operators of websites and web services to run code at our edge.” Workers uses “Isolates” technology, which enables faster execution of code—resulting in code that can be deployed worldwide in a matter of seconds. Darktrace

Threat Hunting in the Cloud with Autonomous Cyber AI

While organizations understand what a traditional cyber-attack looks like, most people have no idea about attacks against cloud systems. Max HeineMeyer, a cybersecurity expert at Darktrace, says it can be “incredibly hard for traditional tools, non-AI tools to stop these attacks, and this is exactly where we think AI comes into play.”

The Darktrace Immune System is an AI-native platform that shares AI insights across workflows and seamlessly integrates with a wide range of tools via an open architecture to neutralize cyber-attacks in the shortest possible time effectively.