Monday Dec 01, 2008

Learnings from Lyon at ICT2008

I have spent this morning looking at the leaflets and notes I took at ICT 2008 in Lyon last week. I have bookmarked many of them at delicious with the "myict2008" tag. These cover mainly grids, distributed computing and knowledge management, there are a couple of consultancy sites as well.

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I hope you'll find them useful. I have posted them here, using their link roll gadget since you can't enter on a date and this blog entry has both a date URL and a permalink. The lack of a date query is probably one of the reasons that people post links to their blogs. This is the first time I have done it, although the linkroll is in my sidebar on this page and on my archive page.

I hope to write up my notes in a more narrative form, which I'll back date to last week, which is when the conference took place.


Tuesday Nov 25, 2008

Managing Torrow's Cloud

An off agenda session on Cloud Computing, kicked off by William Fellows of the 451 Group. I quite like his stacks both of functionality, illustrating what needs to be done and the evolution of the cloud from its partly failed predecessors. The discussion then moved to management, with contributions from IRMOS and the Autonomic Internet project, which sounds a bit IBM'ish but isn't. There's obviously some thinking going on about Service Management for Clouds and networks, looking at life cycle issues (is this just job management, probably not because of birth and death), self functioning, SLAs and QoS issues. It seems to me that Robert Holt's experimentation with SMF is exactly the right thing to do. The features that Sun's Systems Management Facilty add to the operating system are a foundation on which a number of features can be built which meet the need of Cloud managers. The BREIN project which says about itself,

"BREIN takes the e-business concept developed in recent Grid research projects, namely the concept of so-called "dynamic virtual organisations" towards a more business-centric model, by enhancing the system with methods from artificial intelligence, intelligent systems, semantic web etc."

I love the etc. It always makes you think people know exactly what they're doing. They have published a white paper here.... Despite this, these projects and this approach might well enable the automated SLA negociation. Can we create a semweb for SLAs? It always been the fact that sustaining and management science comes after the invention stage, but this was a jolly interesting session, and addressing issues identified by both myself and colleagues at Sun and leading industry commentators as crucial. If we don't/can't automate this stuff, we are going to run out of people.


Impressions of the Citie International

Among the things to do better should Sun come to ICT again, is that the hotel should be booked in advance. Its a real pain being so far from my hotel room; I can't return to my room for either power or privacy. The commute is a time consuming pain; I am staying in Vienne which is about 30 minutes away, although the journey takes much longer. The journey in both directions was made harder by a strike on the trains, it was just like old time in England being picketed by the CGT. I hope it's easier today.

The Lyon convention centre is enormous and very good. If we could justify a Sun global training event in Europe, it'd be excellent, I wonder if they rent parts of it?

International Conference Centre, Lyon

Even at this conference, they 'ushhered' people to sit below the main walkways when using the main auditorium for break out sessions. Having said it'd be excellent, are there enough hotel rooms in Lyon, as I said I booked late and AMEX couldn't get me in (to Lyon), but it could always be AMEX's fault. The number of breakout rooms might be a constraint and the wireless was poor in a number of rooms and unlike Palau de Congressos de Catlunya in Barcelona, there is no power available in the conference rooms and halls. They claimed 4500 delegates at ICT 2008.


Can Europe keep up?

I then attended a panel discussion on R&D in Europe, which given the attendees was pretty self congratulatory. HP's VP for Labs is a Brit, and was on the panel. The reason I mention this is that he was the only employee of a global IT company i.e. one not quoted in Europe, who spoke in a plenary session. They sort of said "Great Research, no IT manufacturing" , but why? We do have ICT manufacturers in Telco, including Alcatel, Ericsson, Nokia and Seimens.

Can the European NEP's maintain their leadership? What does Europe's computing hardware poverty mean? Can it compensate with a single market, a vibrant software industry and a well educated work force?

It was also shown that not all these advantages are enough. SAP does very little development in Europe these days, and it was said that innovation rate in Europe is too low, despite a world leading position in many areas.


Monday Nov 24, 2008

Visions of Future Computing

After lunch, with wine, it is in France after all, I attended a session called "Visions of Future Computing and Communication Paradigms". Frustratingly this was not video'd and nor can I find the slides on the USB stick they gave us. So you'll have to rely on my memory; I didn't take any notes. The first two speakers, although their presentations weren't designed to show the difference between IT people and computer scientists. Prof. John McCaskill, of BioMIP, the Biomolecular Information Processing Research Group presented on 'Constructive IT', which as far as I can tell starts from chemistry and is looking at new ways of building computers...beyond Silicon. I have to ask what sort of timescales they expect to do anything substantial. The need to change programming models because of large scale multi-threading is one thing, the abolition of silicon is quite another. This stuff just amazed me. He was followed by Micheal Wolf, who illustrated the insights that quantum physics offer to mainly software design. He was followed by Illka Tuomi also at Wikipedia, who presented on "Intellectual Property Processing After the End of Semiconductor Scaling", and his slides are available on his personal web page at He illustrates some interesting changes in system design after the end of Semiconductor scaling. The session was brought to end by Wendy Hall, who illustrated the holistic nature of ICT futures arguing for a 'Web Science' approach borrowing from many separate disciplines to build an understanding of the technical and social networks that are being built today.


ICT 2008, Lyon

I got into the conference in time to hear the words of welcome from the Mayor of Lyon, and the opening panel discussion. The panel was chaired by Viviane Reding, European Commissioner for Information Society and Media, and its participants were Luc Chatel, Secrétaire d'Etat chargé de l'Industrie et de la Consommation, France, Esko Aho, Executive Vice President, Nokia Corporation, and Former President of the Finnish Innovation Fund (SITRA), former Prime Minister of Finland and one of the key commentators on FP6, he chaired the group that produced "Information Society Research and Innovation: Delivering results with sustained impact", which was published in September. Also on the panel were Ben Verwaayen, CEO, Alcatel-Lucent, previously of BT, Harold Goddijn, CEO, TomTom and Michel Cosnard, CEO and Chairman, INRIA, representing a research view. The conference has a video link on its site for this session. The panel was called "Setting the ICT Agenda for the Next Decade" , has its own page. The panelists said little of controversy, with Verwaayen arguing that trust and security were keys with Aho arguing for a global dimension, starting from a green perspective to invest in productive knowledge. He also interestingly argued that US leadership was based on entrepreneurialism and commercial innovation. I was surprised, I am not yet convinced that european basic science research is yet competitive with the US. For instance, while researching NESSI's contribution to the EU's Software Industrial policy, I was pointed at China's Shanghai Jiao Tong University's study of Academic Ranking of World Universities. I, and others, have considered the methodology and anomalies, but it illustrates a world domination of scientific excellence in the universities by the USA. However Goddijn, who was there to tell the startup story, stated that his biggest problems in building Tom Tom were not technological, but regulatory compliance, specifically, VAT and patent registration. These comments got a round of applause, and Verwaayen weighed in specifically asking when it might become possible to register patents in the EU in one language. There were further discussions on the public policy dimensions of how innovation enters the economy, discussing public/private partnerships, educational/innovation clusters with much agreement about the short term changes in ICT.

In between the opening sessions and the panel discussion, some video's from Futuris were shown. This focused on the use of ICT in health care delivery. I have argued previously that the UK's investment in i-health care has been too focused on record keepting and NHS cost control, so it was good to see a couple of case studies showing the innovative use technology in improving the ill and injured's lives. I can't find the specific video on the Futuris site, but Futuris is an EU sponsored TV show broadcast on the Euronews channel. Leave me a comment if you find it.



I am in staying in Vienne to attend the EU's ICT 2008 conference, to be held in Lyon which is a biennial conference of Europe's top IT researchers in commerce and academia, convened by the Commission of the European Union.





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