Three Takeaways from Rackspace Solve Chicago

Rackspace Solve

A few of us from Alert Logic made the trip from Houston to Chicago earlier this week for Rackspace::Solve, a full-day event hosted by Rackspace in which customers, partners, analysts and Rackers discussed solutions for interesting technology and business challenges. Others at Alert Logic attended previous Rackspace events in San Francisco and New York, but Chicago was my first.

With more than a dozen speakers and lots of side conversation, I gathered a lot of useful takeaways from the day. Here are three from an IT and security perspective:

1. From one perspective, IT is getting much simpler. There were great examples of how organizations are partnering with Rackspace to share IT and development workloads and improve efficiency all around. For example, Tria Foster from Kendra Scott talked about supporting a growth rate of more than 200% per year on their e-commerce website with a support team of just nine people. Glenn Selle from Zipline Labs talked about leveraging Rackspace’s DevOps Automation Service to augment their internal development team and ship quality new releases, fast. Multiple speakers talked about the simplicity of spinning up servers and having new processing power available within hours instead of the weeks and months required to order and deploy those same assets even a decade ago.

2. From another perspective, IT is more complex than ever before. Organizations have even more choices to make with the arrival of new opportunities for hosting and managing IT assets in different environments. Dr. Paul Brenner from the University of Notre Dame gave an interesting talk about the decision of where to host and manage their more than 1,500 servers to achieve maximum performance for both internal users and external collaborators. Paul de Forno from Razorfish talked about complexity from a different angle. He discussed how to prepare applications and interfaces for new forms of interaction, such as digital and touch, without impacting performance. He shared the example that on Walmart.com, for every 1 second performance improvement, they see a 2% conversion improvement.

3. Security needs haven’t changed, but how they’re met needs to. Michelle Bailey from 451 Research talked about how “the cloud changes everything, except security.” Regardless of where you deploy your IT assets, you’ll need the same set of services to ensure these assets are protected. But because the deployment environments differ, how security needs are met will change. For example, some of the security areas that you were responsible for managing in your on-premises datacenter (like physical security) will become the responsibility of your provider if and when you move to the cloud. From both Michelle’s presentation, as well as James Staten’s from Forrester Research, a key to security in the cloud is awareness — knowing what you are responsible for, what your cloud provider is responsible for, and finding other partners to help if you’re not comfortable with the split. Certainly we believe that finding the right security partner that can grow with you through all of these types of situations is important too.

I’m not really doing any of the speakers justice with these brief overviews. You can watch full videos at http://www.rackspacesolve.com/chicago.html. Suffice to say though, it was a thought-provoking day in Chicago and a wonderful opportunity to spend time with industry leaders from Rackspace and other organizations.