At first glance, the two most recent large-scale industry gatherings I've attended have little in common. OSCON is a celebration of the open source ethos, full of guys in shorts and sandals staying comfortable in the August heat in counter-cultural Portland, Oregon.
While it was still plenty hot in Las Vegas, the preferred uniform for the cloud-computing devotees at Amazon's much larger AWS re:Invent conference last week in Las Vegas tended more to pressed jeans, Italian loafers, and sport jackets, and there were plenty of full-bore suits in attendance as well. The exhibit hall was just as packed, as the sessions and the party was far more extravagant than anything OSCON would ever try.
Open source and the cloud = winners
But, as a first-time attendee at both conferences, I couldn't help but notice some important similarities. Both events champion once-marginal technologies and concepts that are now considered mainstream. And, this year at least, both events held a bit of a celebratory air, as hosts, sponsors, and attendees enjoyed the singular thrill of being part of a movement that triumphs over nay-sayers to become the popular choice.
Increasingly, both open source and cloud computing are the default option for new projects. Instead of having to convince enterprise leaders to rely on an open source product or run your apps in the cloud or use Software-as-a-Service, you now have to explain why you're not using one of those alternatives.
Rip and replace?
That's a huge step, of course, but Amazon used AWS re:Invent to push for something even bigger. The slew of announcements in Amazon Web Services SVP Andy Jassy's opening keynote (and to a lesser extent in the second keynote from Amazon CTO Werner Vogels) were largely devoted to making it easier for enterprises to rely on the cloud not just for new projects, but to actively replace on-premise solutions already in place. Products and services like the Kineses Firehose streaming input, the Snowball data migration appliance, the Database Migration Service and Schema Conversion Tool, and even the Accenture AWS Business Group don't necessarily make AWS more powerful, they make it easier to get on board.
Similarly, the customers Amazon trotted out in the keynotes, from GE to Capital One, told stories of moving significant parts of their business to the cloud.
The right side of history
That transition is a much harder sell, of course, and won't happen overnight. Heck, it will likely never happen completely. Inertia is a major factor, and there will always be some workloads that companies want to keep in their own data centers for one reason or another.
But I believe the evidence shows that AWS—and its competitors like Google and Microsoft, and others of course—are on the right side of history here. The future is clear – more and more workloads are moving to the cloud, and that trend is likely to continue for a long while.