Cloud Developer Days takeaways

The first conference Cloud Developer Days has ended two weeks ago. It took place 28 – 29 May 2018 @ Cracow, Poland. I haven’t come across a similar conference in my country before, i.e. the one that would be focused on cloud in general and not on a specific technology.

The main focus was on Cloud Security,  Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence, Serverless and Blockchain.

AI Time

The conference started with a session about what is the current state of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning in the cloud, how is this currently being used and what is the future. Image analysis of pictures taken by drones, helping humans to detect damages to bridges or buildings, chat bots, oncology assistance in cancer treatment and many others. Retail was at the top of the list, i.e. finding the right offer for the right person seems to be today’s most common use case of AI and ML.

There was a clear message that AI is not a panacea. It has it’s limitations and used incorrectly can have serious implications – for example someone might have been arrested, because AI engine suggested so (there is a genuine example of such a situation – google it if you like). In general, AI used in a bad way with bad data can lead to bad applications with bad results, hence it is very important to use it responsibly.

There are organisations that focus primarily on AI culture, ethics and education. Some of them are AAAI, UNICRI or PARTNERSHIP ON AI.

All the big players on the cloud market invest in AI and ML. Azure has Cognitive Services and Custom Vision, AWS Machine Learning services, Google machine learning. Last but not least IMB’s Watson.

Not only companies offer services, but also tools to develop and deploy applications quickly. Some examples are Microsoft’s Machine Learning Studio or AWS SageMaker.

Blockchain

There was a clear message that there is a growing need for so called Enterprise Blockchain. The difference between public and enterprise Blockchain is described here for example. Presentations given showed Microsoft’s Blockchain Workbench and IBM’s Blockchain Platform based on Hyperledger Fabric.

Cloud Security

Even though Cloud isn’t new (apparently there is no cloud only someone else’s computer), there is still a number of bad habits that cloud users tend to have. Sometimes it’s just a lack of awareness that something is being done incorrectly.

If you are in the cloud, please remember that there is always a shared responsibility – look at the AWS model for example. Security is also your responsibility.

Common vulnerability is insufficient protection of API keys. These usually leak to code repositories and can be looked up even when deleted from it. One answer to this could be to use Vault by HashiCorp, a tool that can help you with keys generation, encryption and storage.

Public buckets, where someone not aware of the fact that the bucket is publicly accessible, could store data backups for example. Avoid public buckets!

Do not use root accounts for daily tasks. This is a common rule for all cloud providers and a good practice.

I personally would suggest pen testing your solution. Also find out what are the good practices for code development with your cloud provider, how to effectively do CI and CD in order to limit human errors.

DevOps == Collaboration

A couple of presentations given by Seth Vargo around how to collaborate using code and what does DevOps culture mean, which I thought deserve their own section in this post.

Seth gave a great introduction to collaboration and what does it mean. He showed by examples how to use Terraform to collaborate writing infrastructure as code.

Next presentation was DevOps itself and what are its origins. It was great to see that what people are referring to as actual positions in companies is actually more of a lifestyle based on collaboration between developers, operations and business.

Serverless

Finally, cloud taken to the next level. If you have ever dreamed of just writing code and not worrying about the actual hardware it will run on, or even will automatically scale up or down when there is a need for it, then Serverless is for you! This is without a doubt a great simplification.

The best way to start with Serverless technology, would be to try out either AWS Lambda or Azure Functions.

Future plans

It’s great to see Cloud community from various providers in one place sharing how they are doing things. It would be good to see some workshops, however it is not easy to develop against cloud, since there needs to be a valid subscription.

I’m looking forward to the next Cloud Developer Days conference and currently planning to be there. The organisers promised the event will be even bigger, with more content and more conference rooms – fingers crossed!

 

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